Our West Palm Beach criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert know that a momentary lapse in judgment that resulted in criminal charges may not have to ruin your reputation for life. For certain offenses, state law allows individuals to have their records sealed or expunged. In order for you to be eligible for sealing or expunging, your criminal record has to be free of any prior convictions. Further, you can use this privilege afforded to you by the State only once in your lifetime. En Español.
Many people do not know the difference between having your record sealed versus having your record expunged. Our West Palm Beach expungement lawyers understand these key distinctions and could implement either process depending on your case.
Having a record sealed means that the court may order a criminal record to be sealed and therefore confidential from the public, future employers, or a public background search. However, the existence (but not the specific contents) of a criminal record may still be disclosed if:
- You are seeking employment with a criminal justice agency;
- You are the subject of future criminal prosecution;
- You are seeking to be licensed by the Florida Bar to practice law in the state of Florida;
- You are seeking to be employed, licensed, or to contract with the Department of Children and Families, Agency for Health Care Administration, Agency for Persons with Disabilities, or Department of Juvenile Justice;
- You are seeking to be employed or licensed by the Department of Education, certain types of public schools, private schools or child care facilities;
- You are seeking employment or access to one of Florida’s seaports; and/or
- You are seeking to purchase a firearm.
What is Expungement?
Expungement is a process by which your criminal records will be physically destroyed and therefore kept confidential from the public, future employers, and public background searches. However, this process does allow for one copy of the record to be kept by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). This record can only be disclosed to law enforcement. When a record is expunged, the applicable above entities (criminal justice agencies, the Florida Bar, etc.) will be informed that the record has been expunged but they will not have access to the actual record.
In both cases of sealing and cases of expunging, a person is not dealing with any of the above entities, they may lawfully deny or fail to acknowledge the events covered by the sealing or expungement. Essentially, aside from situations involving the above entities, when your record is sealed or expunged, your record returns to the way it was before the criminal incident ever occurred. A lawyer in West Palm Beach could help someone with the expungement process if wish to erase their criminal record.
Eligibility for Expungement
To qualify for expungement in Florida, a case must meet all of the following requirements:
- The charges were dropped, dismissed, or acquitted
- The petitioner has no previous criminal convictions
- The petitioner has not expunged or sealed another arrest record in Florida, with the exception of a criminal record that has already been sealed for ten years.
Additionally, there may be some charges that will never be eligible for expungement. Most of the offenses that are ineligible to be expunged are crimes involving illicit sexual behavior, domestic abuse, crimes against children, any violent offenses such as assault and battery, and the trafficking of controlled substances. To begin to process of expungement a petitioner must receive a Certificate of Eligibility from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. A West Palm Beach lawyer could determine if someone’s charges meet the eligibility requirements for expungements.
Hiring a West Palm Beach Expungement Lawyer
With nearly 5 decades of combined criminal defense experience, our West Palm Beach expungement attorneys at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert offer skilled, aggressive representation to individuals seeking to seal or expunge their criminal records in Broward County, Palm Beach County and Miami-Dade County. Our West Palm Beach record sealing lawyers are former prosecutors who have successfully handled many record sealing and expungement cases, as well as a wide variety of Florida criminal defense cases.
If you are interested in sealing or expunging your criminal record, or if you have questions about the process, or if you have been arrested for or charged with a crime in Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade County, please contact the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert today.