Everyone makes mistakes. A criminal history can be a constant reminder of your mistakes long after you have reformed. Many things people take for granted can be much more stressful if your worried about background checks. It can make you think twice about where to live, what jobs to apply for and even attempting to get a student or mortgage loan. To expunge a record in Florida means the records are restricted. They will still exist but won’t hamper your efforts to establish a law abiding life.
What does this mean to Florida citizens?
In Florida, it means information regarding a criminal charge or conviction has been taken out of reach of the public. Employers, civic groups, schools, private citizens and credit bureaus would not have access to the information. Government agencies like police, military, I.R.S., licensing offices ( hunting/fishing) would know the record had been amended but would need a court order to see what was in the files themselves.
This is different from having the record simply “sealed”. The contents of your criminal history would still be fully available to all government entities but the general public would not have access. Defense lawyers or yourself could still get the contents, but would need a court order. For more information on this, refer to Florida laws s943.0581 and s.943.582.
This procedure reduces stress if you are trying to lead a normal life by giving you the option of denying an arrest was ever made. If you are applying for general employment or for a loan you do not need to give information about the arrest covered by a judge’s order. This does not keep others from keeping unsealed records. Private companies and groups may still give out information about your arrest if asked for references. This includes former employers, landlords and out of state databases.
Can you qualify?
If you are found guilty of a crime as a juvenile and are not tried as an adult, the charges will be sealed automatically by age 26. This depends on the defendant maintaining a clean record after the original arrest. Traffic violations, civil disturbances resulting in restraining orders, or criminal offenses of any tier, can inhibit your records from being reviewed for changes as an adult. Having your juvenile records automatically changed will not prevent you from requesting an arrest on your adult record sealed, but only one time.
If you have had an expungment in another state that was by your own actions you may not request one in Florida. If it was initiated by a judge, not you, then you can file a petition for yourself once in your lifetime in Florida. You may qualify if you were arrested by mistake or as the result of an officer misinterpreting a law or ” contrary to law” in legal terms.
Expunge misdemeanor Florida?
To start expunging a misdemeanor in Florida, go to the local Clerk of Court to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility. This is a form that states to the courts that your offense is eligible for expungment. It does not censor your record in itself, it only says the courts are allowed to do so. If you want to have a conviction in Florida sealed after you move out of state you can call or write to have one mailed to you. You must wait ten years after the offense to apply. Expungement can be immediate, if the charges are dropped before the case goes to trial.
Before filling out the form request your criminal records from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to check for accuracy. This is not a requirement but it can help avoid delays. Dates,charges, pleas and the court’s final verdict all effect if the charge could be eligible or not. If you do find inaccurate information or the arrest of someone else in your information, contact FDLE to confirm the record is wrong. You may need to provide fingerprints to remove the wrong charges.
After the Certificate is filed, a judge will look at the charges and the circumstances to determine if the court will grant your request. If the decision is favorable a certified order to seal or expunge is sent to the FDLE. If the decision is not favorable one may request a review. If the judge refuses it is possible to appeal.
Under most circumstances the following crimes are ineligible for an adult.
- Sexual offenses involving a child or in the presence of a child
- Assault on an elderly or disabled person
- Domestic violence
- Assault and battery
- Arson or destruction of property
- Child abuse or attempted child abuse
- Producing or possessing pornography involving a minor
- performing or promoting prostitution of a minor
- Illegal use of explosives
- Auto theft
- Drug sells or distribution
These crimes can be eligible.
- traffic violations
- minor drug possession
- public disturbances
- alcohol charges not involving minors
- resisting arrest
- some types of probation violations
This is not all inclusive. You should consult an attorney for up to date information and take a test to see if you qualify to get your records expunged.