Having a permanent criminal record can be daunting, disheartening and worrisome. It could potentially affect future employment opportunities, create issues when applying for housing, and lead to others casting judgment. You have learned from your mistakes and don’t want them to define you, your life and your future. Fortunately, the state of Florida allows people to expunge their criminal record under certain circumstances and qualifications. The Berman Law Group has all the information you need to know about the eligibility to expunge criminal records. Keep reading to learn more.
Difference Between Sealing and Expunging
An expunged record only applies to charges that were dismissed either by the prosecutor or by the judge. When a record is sealed, there is no available public access to them through government databases. Because of this, most employers will not be able to see any trace of your former criminal record.
However, governmental agencies and workers – such as law enforcement – have the ability to access sealed criminal records. But governmental agencies trying to access a record with expunged information need a court order to see the information. In order to expunge and seal a criminal record, you cannot have been convicted of any crimes.
Am I Eligible to Expunge My Criminal Record?
To be eligible for expunging your criminal records, there are multiple things that must be true/have occurred:
- No charges were filed.
- You are not currently on probation, house arrest or pretrial release.
- Your charges were dismissed, or
- Your criminal record has been sealed for at least ten years.
There are also crimes not eligible for expungement or sealing if you were found guilty, or if you pleaded either nolo contendere or guilty to them. Some of these crimes include, but are not limited to:
- Being convicted of a felony
- Child abuse
- Drug trafficking
- Sexual misconduct
- Aggravated or sexual misconduct
- Domestic violence resulting in injury
- Lewd or lascivious acts on children or the elderly
How to File for Expungement
You must first fill out a certificate of eligibility application through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement if you are trying to get your criminal record expunged. You have to submit several things in this application. This includes a full set of fingerprints and a certified copy of the final disposition of the case that you are applying to have expunged.
The Department of Law Enforcement will look over your application and decide whether or not to grant you the certificate of eligibility. You must also file a petition to expunge your record with the court that took care of your case if you are granted one. You must also give a copy of your certificate to the state attorney or prosecutor.
After you complete these steps, your record will be expunged if your if your petition is granted. Afterward, you will not have to legally disclose your former criminal record if you are applying for a job, trying to attend a university, applying for housing, or in most instances. This does not include when you are applying to work for a state department in which you will work with the elderly, children or the disabled.
Seeking a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are trying to better yourself and your life by expunging a criminal record, trust in an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you accomplish this goal. The Berman Law Group’s Florida criminal defense attorneys will fight to make sure that your criminal record is expunged based on your eligibility. Call us today at (800) 375-5555 for a free consultation.