If you were charged with a crime in the past, then you may wish to have it expunged after some time. After all, criminal charges can affect your job, career or education, where you live, and your overall reputation.
But expunging a record is easier said than done. There is a specific procedure that must be followed. According to Florida law, you may apply for a certificate of eligibility of expunction from the criminal justice agency that brought the charges against you.
Once you apply for and receive that certificate, which can take time and strict adherence to procedure, then you may be able to petition the court to expunge your charges…but not without the help of a criminal defense attorney…
The First Steps…
As stated above, prior to petitioning the court to expunge a criminal history record, you must apply for a certificate of eligibility for expunction. A criminal defense attorney can help with this process. Applying for this particular certificate can include:
- Processing fee
- Set of fingerprints
- Certified copy of the disposition of the charge(s)
Once your application packet is complete, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will review the submitted information and your criminal history record to determine if the criminal record meets the requirements for expungement.
However, every case is different. Not everyone who has been charged with a crime can request that the charge be expunged. For example, if you were convicted of the charge against you, then you may not be able to expunge that particular charge. Also, you cannot have any other petition to expunge pending before the court.
Moreover, if you have ever requested that a charge be expunged in the past, then seeking another record sealing or expungement is probably unlikely.
Remember…Sealing and Expungement Are NOT the Same…
What confuses most clients is that there is a HUGE difference between a sealed and expunged record. A sealed record means that it cannot be opened or seen by inquiring employers or any others, but the case information is still available to law enforcement should they decide to pull your record for any reason…including after committing another crime.
Expunged means the charge is permanently deleted and no one can see it – including police officers.
You may qualify for record sealing or expungement if:
You have never been convicted –your record could be sealed. You were arrested but the state dropped the case –you could expunge your record. You were sentenced but the formal adjudication was withheld –you could have the case sealed.
To learn more about the difference between record sealing and expungement, read more here.
If you have a criminal record that you'd like to seal or to see if you can have your record expunged altogether, an experienced criminal defense attorney might be able to help.