The legal processes of getting criminal records expunged or sealed are complicated. Certain individuals do not qualify, and the steps required in the judicial system must be carefully followed.
If you need to know how to get your record expunged in Florida, it’s important to understand the terms, the benefits, and the limitations involved.
What’s the Difference Between Expungement and Sealing
Even though a lot of people use the terms interchangeably, there is a difference. A “sealed” record denies access to the information to the public from government databases. What this means is that the majority of people (employers) will not be able to see it. However, representatives of city, county, state, and federal government agencies would still be able to view them, including the military and the police.
If a criminal record is “expunged,” government agencies could still see that there are sealed records but would have to get a court order to view the information inside the files. The qualifications for obtaining a record expunged include if the case was dropped or if the case was dismissed prior to the trial. If the charges were not dropped or dismissed, the criminal record would not be eligible for expungements in Florida. But — it may still qualify to be sealed.
The Limitations of Expungement
An expunged record in Florida does not cover every situation, though. These primarily deal with employment matters. It is important to know the limitations. You can’t deny your prior arrest, even with an expungement when:
- You are looking for/applying/interviewing for a job that would entail the direct contact with children, the developmentally disabled, or the elderly
- You are looking for/applying/interviewing for a job in any schools, universities, any local governmental entity which licenses child care facilities, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Education, or the Department of Children and Family Services
- You are looking for/applying/interviewing for a job with access to a seaport
- You are looking for/applying/interviewing for a job with a criminal justice agency
Who Can Qualify to Get Their Criminal Records Expunged?
As mentioned above, not everyone qualifies for getting expungements in Florida. Qualifying factors include:
- No previous obtainment of an expungement or sealing
- Not currently on probation, house arrest, pretrial release, or have current charges
- Not been adjudicated of a criminal offense or adjudicated delinquent as a juvenile
- Not pleaded “guilty” or “no contest” to an offense that is ineligible for expungement
If these situations apply to you, you may qualify for expunction in Florida. Here are more details about the charges that may qualify for expunction:
- A charge resulting in an acquittal (not-guilty) — after it has been sealed for at least ten years
- A charge dismissed before trial — as long as related charged were disposed of
- A charge where you were arrested, but no formal charging document filed by the State Attorney’s Office
Ineligible Criminal Offenses
However, there are certain crimes that if you were arrested or charged with that may disqualify you. The criminal offenses which are ineligible include:
- Terrorism, Aircraft Piracy, Illegal Use of Explosives
- Aggravated Assault, Aggravated Battery, Sexual Misconduct
- Arson, Carjacking, Home Burglary, Robbery & Home Invasion
- Sexual Battery, Manslaughter, Murder, any type of Domestic Violence that results in an injury
- Child Abuse, Child Sexual Abuse, Kidnapping
- Drug Trafficking, Obscenity, Abuse of the Elderly, and similar offenses
These offenses do not immediately disqualify you. If you were only charged or arrested, you may still be able to pursue expungements in Florida if found not guilty or charged not formally filed.
Seek Expert Legal Help
The complexities of the legal system when it comes to sealed or expunged criminal records can be daunting. The application is comprehensive, and if you miss anything, your application will not be processed and returned back to you. If you make a mistake, you could add a lot of time to the entire process or get a denial. Other questions or issues may come up surrounding juvenile offenses or eligibility too.
These guidelines on how to get your record expunged in Florida serve as a useful tool to get started, but know you are not alone— an expert criminal defense attorney can help.
Contact the office of Dean G. Tsourakis today to set up a free, confidential consultation. Dean is dedicated to helping people and committed to your case each step of the way.on Jun 11, 2018