Violation of Probation
Expungement and Sealing of Criminal records in Florida
If you have ever been arrested, your criminal records are public records. In other words, anybody
including your family and friends, your employer or future employers, school, landlord, neighbors can see your criminal record. Even if you pled no contest or were found not guilty of the crime(s), you still have a record. Having a record makes it difficult to obtain employment, get admitted in graduate programs, get school loans, obtain professional licenses and obtain housing assistance, etc.
Depending on the charge, under Florida law you may qualify for expungement or sealing of your record. The main difference between expungement and sealing is that an expungemnt completely wipes away your criminal record, whereas a sealing makes the existing record confidential. Depending on the crime and the disposition of your case, you may qualify for either expungement or sealing. You can have multiple charges sealed or expunged if they are all related or originate out of the same event.
Sealing is available if you have never pled guilty to or have been found guilty of any crime either as adult or juvenile, must not be on probation and must not have had an expungement or sealing in another jurisdiction. Additionally, you must not have pled guilty or have been found guilty of the crime that you are trying to have sealed. If the court has withheld adjudication of your crime, you may still qualify for sealing. Contact the The Orlando Law Firm, P.L. for more information on the qualifying category of crimes. Even if your record is sealed, you may be required to reveal if you are applying for employment or a professional license to certain institutions.
What are the steps to have my record sealed or expunged?
1. You must apply and be approved for a certificate of eligibility by the Department of Law Enforcement
2. You must file a petition for approval with the court. The court can either approve your petition
without a hearing or can request a hearing. Note that if you use a non-lawyer in this process, they
cannot represent you in court in arguing your case.
3. When the judge has approved and signed the order, you must then send it to the institutions that have your criminal records.
Upon successful completion of the expungement process, criminal background checks will not reveal the presence of your expunged record. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement still retains a copy of your record, but they are not allowed to divulge it.
Expungement, on the other hand, is the physical destruction of your criminal record by the institutions that keep it. You are eligible for expungement if your case has been dismissed, or you were never charged after being arrested or you were found not guilty in a jury or bench trial.
In Florida, the court has sole discretion in its decision to either order or deny the expungement of your criminal record. It is therefore important to hire a criminal defense attorney that can represent you in this process from the beginning until the end. Do not risk a denial of your expungement or sealing of your Florida criminal record if you attempt to do it yourself. At the The Orlando Law Firm P.L., we will handle all the paperwork for you as well as represent you at any necessary hearings.