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Guidance on Expunging & Sealing Your Record in Florida
If a past indiscretion or an arrest for an offense of which you were innocent is affecting your life, expungement may be a solution in your case. Find out if you qualify by consulting a Tampa expungement attorney with our firm. Having successfully handled numerous expungements over the years, we have the know-how and the resources to satisfy the numerous requirements to get the appropriate documentation gathered and prepared to file in a speedy and efficient manner.
Many individuals find they run into restrictions when applying for bank loans, employment, home loans, licenses, and more. Criminal records can be accessed when a background check is done on an individual. Even an arrest where no charges were ever brought will turn up and may result in an application being denied. An experienced Tampa expungement lawyer with our firm is skilled in meeting the requirements of expungement and record sealing efficiently.
Sealing vs. Expungement in Florida
There is a difference between a sealing and an expungement:
- When a record is sealed the information is retained but access is restricted to a very few agencies.
- When a record is expunged, the entire record is destroyed and only a few agencies will be informed that there was a record which was expunged.
Understanding Expungements in Florida
Expungement is often part of a sentencing agreement or plea agreement for juveniles or first time offenders and requires a formal procedure. Once a record has been expunged or sealed Florida law provides that you can lawfully fail to acknowledge any arrest contained in the expunged record with only a few exceptions and only a judge under certain circumstances can provide your information to an entity.
What are the Requirements for an Expunction of My Record?
In the state of Florida, expungement laws are detailed in § 943.0585 of the Florida Statutes. While in some states expungement or “expunction” is available to those who have been convicted of a criminal offense, Florida only allows those who have not been adjudicated guilty of a crime to apply for expunction. A person also only has one opportunity to expunge their criminal record in the state of Florida.
Before petitioning for expunction, a person must apply for a certificate of eligibility for expunction according to subsection 2 of the Florida expunction statutes. Once this certificate is obtained, a person has 12 months within which they can petition to expunge their criminal record.
The Florida Statutes list approximately ten qualification standards (§ 943.0585(2)):
- You must obtain a written and certified statement from a state attorney or prosecutor stating that an indictment or other charging document was not issued in the case you are trying to expunge.
- You must obtain a written and certified statement stating that an indictment, if filed, was dismissed and that no trial resulted from the charges.
- You must obtain a written and certified statement stating that the criminal history you are trying to expunge does not involve sexual predator crimes.
- You must pay a $75 processing fee, unless otherwise waived.
- You must submit a certified copy of the nature of your charges that you are trying to have expunged.
- You must never have been declared guilty of a crime, felony or misdemeanor.
- You must never have been declared guilty of any criminal activity that led to your arrest.
- You will not qualify for expunction if you have previously had your criminal record sealed… “unless expunction is sought of a criminal history record previously sealed for 10 years (§ 943.0585(2)(f).”
- You may not currently be under the court’s supervision if you are applying for expungement.
- You may not have previously obtained an expunction for § 893.14, § 901.33 or § 943.058.
Am I Eligible for Expungement in Florida?
In Florida, you are eligible for an Expungement so long as you have not plead to or been found guilty of a criminal charge. Therefore, if your case was dismissed or you entered an intervention program through the State Attorney’s Office, you are eligible. On the other hand, a sealing is available where you were found guilty or entered a plea, but the Court withheld adjudication.
Expungement Process in Florida
The State of Florida permits one expungement during your lifetime. An expungement is only available for a charge that you were not adjudicated guilty for. It is important to remember that you may or may not be eligible based on your record. The first step in this process – determining eligibility – can be accomplished simply by contacting a Tampa expungement lawyer at Taracks & Associates. Once it is determined that you are eligible, you must complete the following steps:
- Have your finger prints taken at your local police station.
- Fill out the Expungement application and have it notarized
- Send your Expungement application to the State Attorney’s Office for approval.
- After you are approved, a packet with the appropriate documentation and filing fee will be prepared and submitted to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE.)
- If FDLE approves your application, they will send back a certificate of eligibility.
- The last step is petitioning the Court and going before the Judge from your original case where you will respectfully request that he grant your request to expunge your record.
Legal Help in the Florida Expungement Process
This process can take several months and can be very stressful. Having the right Tampa expungement attorney can make things much easier. Having your record expunged can make life much easier. Employers are very critical in today’s market and expect you to have a clean record. This process costs very little compared to the benefit you receive.
If you have questions regarding expungement or having your record sealed call Taracks & Associates. A knowledgeable Tampa expungement lawyer will review your record with you to determine what can be done in your case.