Florida Expungement Lawyer

Florida allows certain individuals to expunge or seal their criminal records. The records become eligible for expungement if their criminal record doesn’t contain an unsealed conviction. The records are sealable if there have been no prior guilty criminal offenses in Florida for the defendant. To learn more, speak with a knowledgeable Florida expungement lawyer. A seasoned criminal defense attorney could review your eligibility and help you get the paperwork started.

Arrest Records

Many people mistakenly believe that arrest records do not matter. After all, the U.S. criminal justice system promises that people are innocent until proven guilty. While that may be true for criminal convictions, it is not for other purposes. Many people may look at criminal records before making decisions about employment or loans. 

A history of arrests can negatively impact all areas of an individual’s life. Anyone may be able to search arrest records online, look at mugshots, and find out details about arrests. This can effect judgments made about that information, even without a conviction. 

An expungement can clear out negative information from public all sources. So, if someone runs an official background check afterward, they will not find evidence of an arrest record. However, it does not impact private sources. Many sources gather information about local arrests, including mugshots. With an expungement, a Florida attorney can request that those sites remove that information. 

Sealing or Expunging

Florida offers two ways to clean a criminal record either sealing or expunging. The two processes are similar, but still have substantial differences. In addition, they have different requirements. 

Expunging a record leads to the court and local law enforcement agencies destroying the record. However, it does not entirely erase the history—the Florida Department of Law Enforcement still retains a copy. If the police search for the record, they will see that the record was expunged, but cannot access its contents. However, a court order can grant them access. 

Sealing a record also does not destroy it. However, it does keep the record confidential. While law enforcement can access it, the public will not. 

Most employers will not have access to the record whether a person chooses sealing or expunging. Furthermore, people do not have to acknowledge sealed or expunged arrests under most circumstances. An experienced Florida expungement attorney can explain when a person must recognize those charges. 

The Steps to Take to Seal or Expunge a Record

The first step to take to clean a record is to apply for a Certification of Eligibility to the state attorney’s office. They will then determine if a person is eligible for sealing or expunction. If so, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will provide a certificate to the defendant. Then, the person presents that certificate and their request for expunction to the court that initially had jurisdiction over the offense. 

The court may grant the request, require a hearing, or deny the request. In the case of a denial, a person may appeal that decision. The court’s decision is not based on eligibility, instead, it looks at the surrounding facts and determines whether they support the expunction or not. A well-practiced Florida lawyer who handles expungements can provide advice on compelling arguments to get a criminal record expunged. 

Requirements to Seal or Expunge a Record

In order for you to apply for a certificate of eligibility you must meet specific criteria. In regards to an expungement, your case must have been resolved by a court dropping, dismissing, or acquitting you of the charges and you haven’t been convicted of a criminal offense in Florida or you have never sealed or expunged another arrest record (unless the request is expunging an arrest that has been sealed for 10 years).

In regards to qualifying to seal criminal records, you must have a case withhold the adjudication of guilt and you haven’t been convicted of another criminal offense in Florida.

Get Your Life Back With the Help of a Florida Expungement Attorney

The rules surrounding expungement can become complicated. Generally, they require that a case be resolved without a plea. Getting a record sealed is somewhat more accessible since it allows people to request it after a period of withheld adjudication for many offenses. Sealing can be critical since a person can request an expunction of a sealed record after ten years. 

The law does not require a person to hire an attorney to pursue an expunction. However, an attorney can advise you on the proper paperwork and how to present a compelling case to the judge. To find out more, schedule a meeting with a Florida expungement lawyer.