Beginning in the summer of 2015, counties throughout Florida will be providing access to their court documents online. Once the documents are published, members of the public will be able to review records of most criminal and civil cases anonymously, without the need to make a trip to the courthouse.
Some counties – like Duval County, where The Law Office of Timothy Armstrong, P.A. is located – have already put their systems online. The rest have up to four months to finish the transition from providing paper-only access at the clerk’s office to providing worldwide access on the Internet. However, some of the larger counties have already stated that their records likely will not be available until the fall, and Hamilton, Levy, Monroe, Seminole, Suwannee, and Taylor counties have indicated that they may not participate in the online migration at this time.
Who Has Access to My Case?
This news is no doubt troubling to individuals with criminal records or who have been involved in civil lawsuits that they would prefer not be publicized to their friends, family members, coworkers, and potential employers. While these records have always been available at the clerk’s office, the need to make a trip to the courthouse has generally served as a deterrent to those without a strict need to know your courtroom history. News reports indicate that a handful of counties intend to charge a subscription fee, but the majority of criminal and civil court records in Florida will soon be available online free of charge.
Sealed and expunged records will not be available; but, otherwise, you can expect your records to be published online. The legislature has established guidelines around who has access to what:
- Criminal and civil court records: All anonymous members of the public.
- Family law and probate records: Members of the public who submit an application and sign an agreement to not share their login information.
- All records, with limited exceptions for protected information (such as juvenile delinquency records): Law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and employees of the Department of Children and Families who submit an application and sign an agreement.
Judges and attorneys will have access to online records as well.
Getting Your Criminal Case Sealed or Expunged
If you are concerned about your court case being published on the Internet, you may be able to get your record sealed or expunged. The ability to have your criminal record sealed or expunged will depend upon the outcome of your case, and both require compliance with a strict set of rules and procedures. If you would like to remove your records from the online database, you should speak with a lawyer experienced in Florida criminal law right away.
Tim Armstrong Can Help Protect Your Record
Attorney Tim Armstrong has represented clients in more than 1,500 cases in Jacksonville and throughout Northeast Florida. If you have questions about your case or are interested in having your records sealed or expunged, contact us today at 904.356.8618.