If you have an arrest in your past and want to keep it private, or if you are seeking a new job or educational opportunities, you may want to have your criminal record sealed or expunged. In Florida, expunging or sealing a criminal record is the process by which a former defendant, upon meeting specified eligibility requirements, destroys their criminal history record (expunction) or eliminates access to the record (sealing) by way of court order.
Remember: Anyone with an internet connection in Florida can retrieve your criminal history, as Florida provides open access to public data.
Don’t let a mistake in your past prevent you from pursuing the job and educational opportunities you need in order to build a better life for you and your family.
Benefits of Sealing or Expunging your Records
Having your criminal history sealed can give you a second chance at life. Your criminal charge will no longer be available as a public record. Furthermore, with your criminal record sealed or expunged, you may be legally permitted to deny or choose not to acknowledge any prior arrests you may have when applying for certain jobs, housing, or educations.There are many practical and legal benefits to expunging or sealing your criminal history record.
- Preventing discrimination in workplace policies that prevent advancement for those with criminal histories;
- Avoiding discovery of past criminal incident by college or employer;
- Protection of your reputation in the community;
- Peace of Mind;
- Preventing disclosure of criminal history on background checks
The Difference Between Sealing and Expunging your Records
SEALING YOUR RECORD (FLORIDA STATUTES § 943.059):
When a criminal record is sealed, the public does not have access to it. The data is removed from the Criminal Information Justice System, and the record will not show up on a background check. However, specified governmental entities will still have access to it, including law enforcement agencies. After your criminal record has been sealed for 10 years, you may ask the Court to expunge (destroy) the record.
EXPUNGING YOUR RECORD (FLORIDA STATUTES § 943.0585):
When a criminal record is expunged, it is destroyed, except the Florida Department of Law Enforcement does keep one copy of the record. However, no one else is able to view it without a court order. Those entities who have access to a sealed record will receive a statement indicating criminal information has been expunged from this record, but they will have no access to the record itself.
Note that there are requirements for eligibility for sealing and expunging, and certain offenses are not eligible for sealing or expunging.
Call The DUNN Law Firm, PA today at 941-866-4352 to discuss your case and determine how we can help you or a loved one in this matter.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Seal and Expunge Process – This governmental website has information about how to apply for a petition to seal or expunge your record, application status, and reasons for denial. The FDLE is located at:
Florida Department of Law Enforcement
P.O. Box 1489
Tallahassee, Florida 32302
Phone: (850) 410-7870
Florida Statutes Online – this website contains all of the Florida Statutes governing Florida’s rules for sealing and expunging your criminal record, including crimes not eligible to be sealed or expunged and governmental agencies to which you must disclose your sealed or expunged criminal record.