All adult criminal cases are public records. Having a criminal history can impact many aspects of your life, including your future employment, housing, and social activities. Applying to have your criminal record cleared will open up better opportunities for your future. Below, we discuss the process of having your criminal record sealed or expunged in Florida.
What does it mean to have a criminal record sealed or expunged?
If your record is sealed, it stays out of the public record but could be accessed in its entirety by government agencies. An expunged record is destroyed from public and government records. The only way to access an expunged record is to request a court order to view it.
The process of clearing a criminal record
The steps to sealing or expunging your record varies depending on the type of record clearance you desire. Talk with an experienced criminal attorney like Alison M. Lopes to help you navigate the steps:
Review criminal record
Work with your attorney to determine which, if any, of your criminal charges are eligible to be expunged or sealed. Sections 943.0585 and 943.059 of the Florida Statutes define the eligible charges that can be cleared. The following charges are not eligible to be expunged or sealed:
● Assault and battery
● Unlawful firearm possession
● Use of destructive devices
Submit Certificate of Eligibility
If your charges are eligible to be cleared, you may submit a Certificate of Eligibility in the location the arrest occurred to get your record cleared. You’ll also need to submit a certified copy of the disposition of the charge.
It can take up to 12 weeks after you apply for the court to review the charge and determine whether to grant clearance.
Types of criminal record clearance
There are several situations where your criminal record may be expunged or sealed. Here are some of the most common reasons:
A court-ordered clearance happens when the person charged with the crime applies to have the record cleared. This is the most common way a criminal record is sealed or expunged.
An administrative record sealing of a record occurs if someone is arrested falsely or by mistake. This type of record sealing benefits the law enforcement agencies and the private citizen.
There are several ways a juvenile criminal record may be sealed or expunged. If a minor was charged with a misdemeanor and completed an eligible diversion program, they could have their record sealed. A juvenile’s record will be automatically expunged at 21 or 26 (if the person served time in a juvenile detention facility). They may be eligible for early expungement if they are between 18 and 21 and have not had any criminal charges in the last five years.
If your charges were dismissed due to lawful self-defense, your record is eligible to be sealed. You must apply to have the record cleared—it is not an automatic process.
If you were a victim of human trafficking and were arrested for prostitution or another criminal act as part of the ruse, you can apply to get your criminal record cleared.
Central Florida criminal attorney – Alison M. Lopes
Alison M. Lopes will help you discover what charges may be eligible for sealing or expungement and assist you through the process of clearing your name. Call our office at 407-442-2724 for a free consultation.