Anytime a person is arrested and fingerprinted in Florida, a criminal history record is created. Having an arrest record can negatively impact your ability to get a job, secure housing, or qualify for financial aid, even if you were never convicted of a crime.
If you have been arrested for or charged with a crime, you may have the option of sealing or expunging your criminal record. Plantation expungement lawyers may have in-depth knowledge of the expungement and sealing process in Florida. Consult a skilled criminal defense attorney that can be dedicated to providing experienced legal guidance.
Florida’s Expungement and Sealing Law
Florida makes adult criminal history records accessible to the general public unless the record has been sealed or expunged. Criminal history record includes any arrest, charges, and case dispositions resulting from the arrest (e.g. conviction, dismissal, acquittal).
Juvenile criminal history records are not available to the public but can be sealed and expunged if the person is eligible. Expungement is the process by which a criminal record is physically destroyed by all criminal justice agencies with custody of it and removed from record systems or files.
However, one copy must be retained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE)). When a criminal record is expunged, governmental entities cannot access the contents of the record without a court order.
Sealing Criminal Records
Sealing a criminal record means that the public will not have access to it, but certain local, state and federal governmental entities (e.g. police and military) are still able to access the criminal history information in its entirety.
The advantage of sealing or expungement is that it allows people to avoid having to disclose their criminal history record during the hiring process. However, there are certain job applications and circumstances that will require disclosure of a criminal record even if it has been sealed or expunged.
For example, seeking admission to the Florida Bar would require disclosure, as would being a defendant in a criminal case.
Expungement and Sealing of Criminal Records in Florida
In order to have a criminal record expunged or sealed, the applicant must first obtain a Certificate of Eligibility from the FDLE. The eligibility requirements apply equally to sealing and expungement. An applicant will be disqualified if they are:
- Been adjudicated guilty (i.e. convicted as an adult) of a criminal offense
- Been adjudicated delinquent as a juvenile for the offense that they are seeking to expunge or seal
- Ever had a prior record sealed or expunged
- A sealing or expungement petition pending in another jurisdiction
- Not completed probation or some other type of court supervision
- Entered a plea of guilty or no contest to an ineligible offense listed in Florida Statutes Section 907.041 (e.g. robbery, aggravated, assault, sexual battery, trafficking in controlled substances)
If the FDLE issues a Certificate of Eligibility, the applicant and their Plantation expungement lawyer can then petition the court to have the record sealed or expunged. If an application for Certificate of Eligibility is denied, the applicant has the right to appeal the FDLE’s decision.
Contact a Plantation Expungement Attorney
An individual may only have one criminal record sealed or expunged, so it is important to choose wisely and obtain the assistance of an experienced expungement lawyer.
If you are wondering whether you qualify to have your criminal record sealed or expunged, or have questions about the process, contact our firm today to learn how a Plantation expungement lawyer can help.