Your reputation is important.
Please read through the sections below to find out who is eligible to have their record sealed or expunged, the forms that must be filled out, the process, as well as the costs involved.
How do I get my record sealed or expunged?
You may qualify to have your criminal record sealed or expunged in Florida if you meet certain criteria set forth in Florida statutes. You cannot seal or expunge some crimes such as a felony or DUI conviction.
To begin the process of record sealing or expungement, you must first obtain a certificate of eligibility by applying through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
What’s the difference between a sealed record and expungement?
Sealing a criminal record means the general public cannot see it. The record is only accessible by certain government agencies and will not appear on a background check by a potential private employer or landlord.
Expunging a record is much rarer and results from the prosecution agreeing to drop the charges, or if the record has been sealed for at least 10 years. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will retain a copy of the expunged record, but it can only be viewed by a court order.
Can I have multiple arrests sealed or expunged?
According to Florida statute Section 943.059, only one arrest record may be sealed or expunged in one proceeding. However, you can attempt to expunge more than one arrest in a proceeding if you can convince the court that the other incident(s) are directly related.
Do I need a lawyer to expunge or seal my record?
You are not required to have an attorney to request a record seal or expungement. However, the process can involve complex legal issues, and having an attorney’s assistance and knowledge would likely be helpful for your case.
Step One: Sealing vs. Expunging
Many people think that sealing and expunging are really the same thing, but there are important differences between the two. Here are the differences between sealing and expunging a criminal record:
Sealing means that the criminal record still exists, it is just placed under seal where the general public can’t view it.
There is a catch—certain governmental agencies can still access your record if you apply for a job or a professional license with them or are accused of a new crime. Here’s a quick list of some of the important ones:
- Any Florida law enforcement agency: if you apply for a job with them or are accused of a new crime.
- The Florida Bar: if you apply for admission.
- The Florida Department of Education: if you are applying for a job with a school.
- The Department of Insurance: if you apply for a license to sell insurance.
- The Florida Department of Agriculture: if you apply for a concealed carry permit.
Expunging means that the criminal record is erased. Most potential employers will not be able to see that you have any kind of record at all.
There’s a catch, though—any Florida government agencies that would normally be able to see a sealed record would see a notation that you have a record that has been expunged if they ever looked you up. This means that if you apply for a job with that agency or a professional license, they could ask you questions about what charges you had expunged.
Step Two: Who is Eligible?
You can apply to have a criminal record sealed as long as you have not been adjudicated guilty of any offense prior to the record you are looking to seal. This even includes criminal traffic offenses, which means that if you were convicted of driving with a suspended license back in 1996, you are ineligible for sealing a new criminal record.
As you can imagine, there are criminal offenses which can’t be sealed. they include any sexual crimes, trafficking, or crimes of violence such as homicide, arson, kidnapping, aggravated assault or battery.
You can expunge a criminal record if the prosecution agrees to drop the charges, or if the record has been sealed for at least 10 years.