Florida law does allow you to expunge your criminal record, but there are specific requirements that must be met. Not all crimes or cases are eligible for expungement, and a specific process must be followed to successfully expunge your criminal record.
What is an Expungement?
An expungement proceeding is a type of lawsuit where a first-time offender of a past crime seeks for their earlier criminal record to be sealed, making the records unavailable through government repositories. Expungement does not eliminate the record entirely; instead, it makes the record move from public to non-public. The FDLE and FBI will still have access to all criminal databases – including expunged records.
When a record is successfully expunged, it means that:
- Your record is removed from government offices – including the County Clerk’s Office and local law enforcement, as well as the State Attorney’s office.
- Your record is no longer considered a public record under Florida law.
- The state of Florida cannot use the expunged record in future criminal proceedings.
- You can legally deny the arrest exists – such as when filling out a job application.
Starting the Process
Before starting, you must first decide the type of expungement you need. There are three main types of record expungement:
- Correction of a Criminal Record – If you have not been arrested for a crime, but a criminal arrest appears on a background check by mistake or due to inaccurate case information, then you can petition to have your criminal record corrected.
- Administrative Expungement – If your arrest was a mistake – such as being arrested on a warrant for a person with the same name – you can request an Administrative Expungement. Administrative Expungements are only acceptable if the arrest was a legitimate mistake, not because you feel it was a mistake.
- Juvenile Seal or Expungement – As a juvenile (under the age of 18), you can seal or expunge your record as long as you are in or have completed a pretrial diversion program.
Florida Statutes §943.058 and §943.059 state specific criteria that must be met in order to successfully expunge a record. These statutes also state that you must make an application to the FDLE for a Certificate of Eligibility before you can have your criminal history sealed or expunged. Even with a Certificate of Eligibility you may not qualify for an expungement – it simply implicates that you are eligible for the type of relief you are requesting.
Certain crimes may not be sealed regardless of whether or not adjudication has been withheld. These include crimes in the categories of:
- Sexual misconduct
- Sexual crimes with a minor or child
- Drug trafficking
- Aggravated assault or battery
- Human trafficking
- Child abuse
- Elder abuse
- Manslaughter or homicide
Also, an individual cannot receive an expungement if they have been convicted of a criminal offense or have already had a criminal record expunged in the state of Florida.
Consult With a Criminal Defense Attorney Regarding Your Expungement
Florida has strict rules regarding record expungement. It is important to speak with a criminal attorney that has experience in this area to ensure that your case not only qualifies, but that your expungement is successful. The Law Office of Timothy Armstrong, P.A. can answer your questions and assist you with your record expungement. Call 904-356-8618 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.