Florida expungement laws have the potential to help you protect your digital privacy. Learn all about these laws with our complete guide.
More than 70 million individuals within the U.S. have criminal records. Due to these records, many Floridians are subject to laws and regulations that limit their rights. Are you able to keep away from the worst consequences of getting a criminal record?
Among the consequences of getting a criminal record are unreasonable, arbitrary, and completely unrelated to any crime or criminal conviction. Even a misdemeanor conviction for a non-violent crime might proceed to appear on background checks for the rest of your life.
As you know, the web allows anybody to conduct a criminal records background check with merely the clicking of a mouse. If employers are rejecting you, or if you’re turned down whenever you try to find housing, something in your criminal history record could be the reason.
However, in Florida, many criminal records might be sealed or expunged. Not everybody will qualify for sealing or expungement, the process isn’t simple, and you’ll want a defense lawyer’s advice and companies.
What’s Expungement? What’s “Sealing” a Criminal Record?
First, some definitions. “Expungement” is the deletion of a criminal history record, whereas “sealing” restricts access to criminal history records. In some circumstances, if expunging criminal records can’t be expunged, you might at least be capable to have your criminal record sealed.
Sealing your record implies that the court will keep that record inaccessible to most of the people, together with employers and landlords. However, the existence of your criminal record, but not the details, could nevertheless be disclosed if:
- You seek to purchase a firearm.
- You might be charged with a subsequent crime.
- You seek a position with or in proximity to a Florida seaport.
- You must apply for a job in law enforcement or a license from the Florida Bar before practicing law in this state.
- You seek a job, license, or contract with the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Education, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, or the Agency for Health Care Administration.
- You apply for a job or a contract with a public or private college or a childcare facility.
What Happens When a Criminal Record is Expunged?
Expungement is more comprehensive. When your criminal historical past is expunged, the records are physically destroyed and due to this fact unavailable to anyone, with one exception.
One copy might be retained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) for disclosure, if deemed needed, to law enforcement companies.
Nevertheless, sealing or expunging your criminal historical past helps you to legally tell landlords and most potential future employers that you haven’t been convicted of against the law.
What is the First Step?
Whether you might be sealing or expunging a criminal history record, the process begins by requesting, together with your lawyer’s help, a Certificate of Eligibility to Seal or Expunge from the FDLE.
You have to receive the Certificate of Eligibility before the sealing or expungement process can proceed. Before a Certificate of Eligibility will be issued, the FDLE determines if an applicant is legally eligible to petition the courtroom for sealing or expungement.
However, that eligibility alone isn’t any guarantee that you will be able to seal or expunge your criminal history record. In case your record includes a violent felony, a domestic violence conviction, a number of arrests, or multiple convictions, sealing or expunging your record could also be tougher.
How is a Record Sealed or Expunged?
How will a defense lawyer assist you to expunge or seal your criminal record? In case you have obtained a Certificate of Eligibility and meet certain other requirements, Florida law gives for several different sealing and expungement procedures.
For example, the arrest of a juvenile or a grownup, if that arrest was wrongful or made by mistake, possibly expunged “administratively” (with no judicial hearing) by applying to the FDLE together with your lawyer’s assistance.
Florida’s state court system has authority over its judicial records. Upon receiving a Certificate of Eligibility, your lawyer can request a hearing to have your criminal record sealed or expunged.
What Does Court Take Into Account?
Submitting a petition to seal or expunge entitles you to a formal hearing to determine whether the facts, circumstances, and public interests justify the request to seal or expunge a criminal record. The denial of a petition requires a written order spelling out the reasons for the courtroom’s decision.
The court must keep in mind all the facts and circumstances of the original case. Within the absence of a great reason for the denial of a petition for sealing or expungement, the petitioner is, within the words of Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeals, “entitled to relief.”
As a result young individuals often make mistakes, be taught their lessons, and turn into law-abiding adults, most juvenile records within the State of Florida might be expunged, and the process is normally simpler than expunging an adult criminal record.
How Are Juvenile Records Sealed or Expunged?
In case you have a criminal record as a juvenile, you could qualify for one among these expungement procedures:
- Juvenile diversion expungement.
- Automatic juvenile expungement.
- Early juvenile expungement.
Anybody who has successfully accomplished an authorized juvenile diversion program for a misdemeanor might apply for a juvenile diversion expungement.
The criminal record of a minor will automatically be expunged at age 21 (or age 26 if the minor was ordered to a juvenile correctional facility or prison) offered that certain conditions are met, including having no “forcible” felony charges or convictions as an adult.
Somebody between the ages of 18 and 21 might qualify for early juvenile expungement if she or he has not been charged with or convicted of any criminal offense throughout the previous 5 years.
A Lawyer’s Guidance is Important
In case you search to seal or expunge an arrest, criminal charge, or criminal conviction in Florida, you will need to have the best lawyer’s assistance and law firm from the start. The authorized paperwork required for sealing or expungement from the criminal justice agency is extensive, and it should be complete and correct.
Any misunderstandings or mistakes might delay the process and even cause the rejection of your petition by the court.
In Florida, in case you qualify, it’s your right to have your criminal record sealed or expunged, and there’s no reason why you should not exercise that right – as quickly as possible.
Frequent Questions on Sealing or Expungement
Below are frequent questions regarding sealing or expunging a criminal record in Florida.
What Crimes Can Be Expunged in Florida?
No indictment, Info, or other charging document was filed in the case that’s the subject of the expunction, or the case was later dismissed or the subject of a nolle pros. No prior adjudications of guilt for any criminal offense or comparable ordinance violation, and no prior adjudications of delinquency (juvenile cases) for any criminal act outlined in Florida Statutes Section 943.051(3)(b). No adjudication of guilt or delinquency within the case is the subject of the expunction. No prior sealed or expunged cases have been pursued under Florida law. No other seal or expunge petitions are pending before any court.
How Long Does Expungement Take in Florida?
It takes an average of six months to complete the process of sealing or expunging a criminal record.
How Much Does it Cost to Expunge Your Record in Florida?
Relying on the nature of the underlying offense, you can be charged a flat fee of $1,500 which includes all court prices and associated bills. If the case is outside of the Central Florida area and a hearing is required there may be an extra $500 travel charge.
Can I Expunge My Own Record in Florida?
The process of expunging a criminal arrest record may be very troublesome if you’re not familiar with the process and legal terminology. Most individuals don’t notice that once you understand the legal language the process then turns to understanding what to send where and to who to send what. That is why many individuals resort to hiring a lawyer to deal with the expungement.
Some individuals have the time and patience to finish the expungement on their very own and it’s completely possible to do. For pennies on the dollar of what you pay a lawyer, you’ll be able to process your application and file your motion with the court and expunge your own record.
You’re most likely considering that this might be too tough or that you simply don’t have time for this. That is simply not true. The process usually takes 4-6 months from beginning to end. Throughout this time you need to dedicate your time to stay focused and complete the process.
Under are the ten things required complete the expungement process:
- Application for Certificate of Eligibility.
- Fingerprint card.
- Money Order made payable to FDLE for $75.00.
- Certified Copy of the final disposition of your case (proof the case was dropped).
- Notice of Hearing.
- Petition to Expunge.
- Order to Expunge.
- Certificate of Eligibility.
- Filing Fee to the Clerk of the Circuit Court.
If You Have Multiple Arrests, Can You Seal or Expunge the Entire Record?
No, you’ll be able to only seal the criminal history associated with one criminal episode. So in case you have been arrested multiple times, you’ll only be capable to seal or expunge the criminal history associated with one of those arrests.
One exception to this does exist. In case you plead guilty or no contest to multiple offenses and the court withheld adjudication of guilt on all the offenses, then you could seek to have only one of the convictions sealed or expunged. If this applies to you, you need to seek to have the more serious charges removed.
Do You Have to Appear in Court?
No, your appearance in the courtroom isn’t needed until required by the presiding judge. Nevertheless, if a formal hearing is scheduled, it is requested clients make every attempt to attend the hearing. It demonstrates to the court that you just value this opportunity to clear your criminal record and that it is very important to you.
Need more help removing your records from the public eye? Contact us now!