Initial Steps In Sealing Or Expunging Criminal Record

Having a criminal record might significantly limit your opportunities. In Florida, a criminal defense attorney may be able to help you have your record sealed or expunged. Florida law establishes criteria to be met to have a record sealed or expunged. If you are eligible and having your criminal records sealed or expunged will benefit you because your files will then be confidential and will not be disclosed during a routine background check, often carried out by prospective employers and creditors. You should be aware, however, that there are several limitations on the confidentiality of documents sealed or removed. For example, although your criminal record is sealed or expunged, you can not deny or fail to recognize criminal conviction in any criminal proceedings in the future, or if you will apply for employment with federal or state agencies. Also, a copy of your registration will still be kept and subject to review by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).

If you were arrested, but charges against you were later dropped, the fact of your detention and the nature of the charges are also part of the public domain, even if you were not convicted at trial. If you qualify, all records of this type can be sealed or canceled.

A sealed document is not available for public government agencies, but some still have access to information. If a record is deleted, the file access is further limited, and entities who wish access to a sealed record would need to secure a court order to access the registry.

A person seeking to have a record of criminal record sealed or deleted in Florida should apply to the FDLE Certificate of Eligibility. You can get a package for this application from the Clerk of Courts in your county. Before doing this, you may want to get a copy of your criminal record to check the accuracy. You can dispute any information in your file that is inaccurate or incomplete. FDLE will then review your application and determine if you meet the criteria established by law. FDLE determines if registration is eligible to be sealed or expunged, you will receive a letter of approval from the FDLE.

NOTE: This authorization does not seal or expunge your record. It"s just proof that the record meets the criteria established by law. You still have to file a petition in court in the county where you were arrested, and the court must grant the request.

What would keep my record of being sealed or expunged?

As a general starting point, you are eligible if you have never been convicted of a crime as an adult and have not previously had the record sealed or expunged. Additional rules governing the records of minors. You should not currently be under any form of court supervision (probation, parole). Several other circumstances can cause you to lose the right. For example, Florida law states that there are some offenses are not eligible for sealing or deletion. You should discuss the particular details of your case with an attorney experienced in criminal defense to determine if your case is eligible.

Find out the basic drug laws in Florida in this article.