If you have been arrested for a crime, that arrest stays on your criminal record for life. However, you can apply for expungement or removal of the conviction from your criminal record. The expungement process involves destroying or sealing a state or federal record, treating the criminal arrest as if it never occurred. An expungement removes also removes the arrest from any public record.
However, expungement is not a “forgiveness” or pardon of a crime. Pardons can only be ordered by public officials, like the president or state governors. Expungements are ordered by a judge or the court.
What is Record Sealing?
Record sealing is similar to expungement, although there are some key differences to note. While expungement removes the arrest from a criminal record entirely, record sealing seals the records so they are no longer accessible to the public. However, sealed records can still be accessed by a court order.
Who is Eligible for Expungement or Record Sealing?
Unfortunately, not everyone with a criminal record is eligible for expungement or record sealing. If you’d like to expunge or seal your records, take a look at the criteria below:
The charges against you were ultimately dropped, or you were acquitted. Unfortunately, guilty convictions cannot be expunged or sealed in Florida.
You have never been arrested for any other comparable crime.
You have no prior sealed or expunged cases.
You have no other pending sealed or expunged cases.
Some charges are automatically ineligible for expungement and record sealing. Typically, if you were ever charged with a felony that was violent or sexual in nature, you would not be eligible for expungement or record sealing. If you are unsure whether your charges qualify, contact our office today for more information.
What Are the Benefits of Record Sealing and Expungement?
Expungement and record sealing both remove your criminal record from the public record. You are then legally allowed to attest that you have never been charged with a criminal offense in most scenarios.
Because criminal records can bar individuals from getting a job or securing housing, many find that they can get employment or rent a home much more easily. College applications and background checks will also not show your criminal record, making applying for education and jobs easier.
Similarly, getting your records sealed or expunged means that members of the public can no longer access information about your criminal record. This gives you more privacy and lets you keep your reputation intact.
What Are the Exceptions to Record Sealing and Expungement?
While expunging or sealing your records keeps your criminal record hidden in most scenarios, there are exceptions to this rule. There may be situations in which you are required to disclose your criminal history.
Those scenarios include:
Applying for a job in law enforcement
Applying for a job with the Department of Children and Family Services or a related department
Becoming a defendant in a criminal prosecution
Applying for a job or license with the Department of Education or any school-related entity
Attempting to purchase a firearm
Seeking to be appointed as a guardian
Seeking authorization from a Florida seaport
Seeking a concealed carry license
Seeking admission to The Florida Bar
Can You Expunge Multiple Records?
In Florida, you can only expunge or seal one criminal history within your lifetime. If you have multiple arrests or cases on your record, only one of the records is eligible for expungement or sealing. However, there are exceptions to this rule.
Under Florida law, the court may seal a criminal record with multiple arrests as long as the additional arrests pertain to the original one. For this exception to apply, all offenses or cases must stem from one incident. If you’d like more information, call our law office today.
How Can a Defense Attorney Help Me?
Getting a criminal record sealed or expunged can open up many opportunities. Employment, housing, and education applications will be easier, not to mention the effect it can have on your reputation. A defense attorney on our team can review your criminal record and help you navigate the expungement or record sealing process to get your life back in order. Don’t hesitate to reach out. Call The Defense Group today at 407-743-8430.