Sealing/Expunging Criminal Records in Florida

Expungement and sealing of criminal records are very different things. If a judge orders an individual’s records sealed, they are just that – sealed, meaning that the public does not have access to them. Only certain governmental agencies – including law enforcement and the courts – will have access to the records. Expungement, on the other hand, means your records will be physically destroyed.

If you have been charged with a crime and are looking to have that criminal charge either sealed or expunged, you need a knowledgeable and experienced attorney to guide you through the process.  The Berman Law Group has built a reputation as fearless and indefatigable defenders of their client’s rights. With decades of experience, we have the knowledge and skill to help you fight to clear your name.

If you need an experienced defense attorney, call The Berman Law Group right now at (800) 375-5555 for a free consultation, where you’ll receive an honest and thorough evaluation of your case from a member of our knowledgeable team.

What is Sealing?

When a criminal record is sealed in the State of Florida, this means that any law enforcement or judicial record can only be accessed in very limited circumstances. Sealed records may be eligible for expungement after 10 years. One of the benefits of sealing a criminal record is that the individual who has had the record sealed can deny the existence of that record, except to the following agencies and bodies:

  • Law enforcement
  • Department of Children and Family
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Juvenile Justice
  • Any school – private or public
  • Any licensee dealing with children
  • The Florida Bar Association
  • Or, after they have been prosecuted for subsequent crimes

In addition, there are a number of crimes that an individual cannot have sealed if they receive a “withhold of adjudication.” These charges may be expunged, however, if the charges were dropped, dismissed, or they were found not guilty. These charges include:

  • Crimes involving children, including enticing, luring, or lewd-behavior in front of a child
  • Sexual crimes, including assault, battery, and voyeurism
  • Violent crimes, including assault, battery, and domestic violence
  • Homicide and manslaughter
  • Kidnapping, carjacking, robbery, and terrorism
  • Any offense by public employees

Who Is Eligible for Sealing Records?

Under Florida legal statutes, an individual may qualify for sealing records if they meet the following criteria:

  • They have never been convicted of, or plead guilty to, any criminal charge
  • The individual has not been convicted of or entered a guilty plea to, the charge for which they are applying to seal.
  • They are not currently on probation
  • They previously have not had a criminal record sealed or expunged in any other jurisdiction.

What is Expungement?

When a court orders an individual’s records to be expunged, the criminal records must be physically destroyed. Only the Florida Department of Law Enforcement may hold a copy of the files, though the contents are kept confidential and may only be viewed with a court order. Once expungement of the record has occurred, any entity which accesses to sealed records would have would only see the following response to an individual’s criminal record, in accordance with Florida statutes § 943.0585: “Criminal History Record Expunged Pursuant to Florida Statutes 943.”

Who Is Eligible for Expungement?

While record sealing is available to those who were not convicted, or judgment of guilt was withheld, expungement is usually only available in cases in which no charges were filed, were dismissed or when the relevant criminal record has been sealed for ten years. Florida law dictates that certain serious crimes do not qualify for expungement. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Crimes involving children, including enticing, luring, or lewd-behavior in front of a child
  • Sexual crimes, including assault, battery, and voyeurism
  • Violent crimes, including assault, battery, and domestic violence
  • Homicide and manslaughter
  • Kidnapping, carjacking, robbery, and terrorism
  • Any offense by public employees

Current Florida law states that one expungement only is allowed per lifetime per individual. This applies only to Florida criminal records and not other states. There are certain exemptions, which will not count towards your one expungement of a criminal record in Florida. These exceptions are:

  • You had a qualified juvenile expungement in the past
  • You are the victim of human trafficking
  • Your charges were dropped due to lawful self-defense

If you are considering sealing or expunging a criminal record, you should seek legal counsel immediately. Make sure you get a trusted and experienced defense attorney who is willing to fight for your rights. Call The Berman Law Group right now at (800) 375-5555 for your free consultation.

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