Expunging or Sealing your Criminal Record
No one wants a criminal record following them for the rest of their lives. Whether you can expunge a criminal record or not is often misunderstood. Expunging a criminal record is different, and requires a different process, than sealing a criminal record. At the Lake City and Gainesville law firm of Koberlein Law Offices ("KLO") we can do BOTH and we can do BOTH in ALL 67 COUNTIES IN FLORIDA.
In Florida, you must be able to prove that you are eligible to have your records expunged or sealed. Your ability to do so will depend on whether you were adjudicated as guilty of the crime, whether, after your arrest, the charges were dropped and to a large degree, what charges were brought against you.
Understanding the Difference between Sealing and Expunging
When your record is expunged, it is no longer shown by the Clerk of the Court or the arresting law enforcement agency. The only record of your arrest will be held by the FDLE, all others will be destroyed. In essence, it is as though the charge never happened.
When a record is sealed, it is still on file but is not available to or viewable by the public, unless the court orders it to be unsealed.
Valid Grounds for Having a Criminal Record Sealed or Expunged
Your record may be expunged if the charges against you were dismissed and if you have never been adjudicated, meaning found guilty, of another crime.
Your records may be sealed if you plead guilty or no contest, you have never been found guilty of another crime, and if you received a withhold of adjudication, meaning that you were not adjudicated or found guilty of the offense.
Crimes Which are Not Eligible for Sealing or Expunging
If you have been charged and convicted with any of the following, you are ineligible for expungement or having your record sealed:
- Homicide or manslaughter
- Home invasion robbery
- Aggravated assault
- Sexual battery
- Child abuse
- Burglary or robbery
- Computer pornography
- Abuse of an elderly or disabled adult
- Trafficking of controlled substances
- Acts of terrorism
- Luring or enticing a child
How Long Should You Expect Before Your Record(s) are Sealed or Expunged?
Your record may be sealed or expunged after you obtain an Order from the sentencing Court ordering the various agencies that have your records in their possession to either seal or expunge the records. To obtain an Order you must complete the following steps:
- First, apply to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) for a Certificate of Eligibility.
- Second, prepare and file a formal petition with the Clerk of Court.
- Third, obtain hearing dates from the interested parties.
- Fourth, issue a notice of the hearing.
- Fifth, attend the hearing and persuade the sentencing Court to enter an Order.
- Finally, ensure that the Order is served on each agency that possesses your records.
This is just a partial list. For more detailed information, contact your Lake City and Gainesville criminal defense attorney at KLO by contacting the law firm online or by calling 386.269.9802 for Lake City or 352.519.4357 for Gainesville.