Florida law allows you to seal or expunge one criminal incident during your lifetime. If your charges were dropped, the process is called an expungement (or expunction). If you pled ‘guilty’ or ‘no contest’ and adjudication was withheld, the process is called a sealing. Both processes remove all information relating to your arrest from public record. Call the O’Brien law firm so that we can:
- Review your criminal history;
- Determine if you are eligible for a sealing or expungement, and
- Start the process of clearing your record.
Should I Expunge or Seal My Arrest Record?
Expungement is the slightly better option if you are eligible. If your charges were completely dropped or dismissed prior to trial then you would want to pursue an expungement.
Expungement is a six to nine month process to obtain a court order requiring the clerk to destroy your court file and remove all information relating to your criminal charges from the clerk’s website. Additionally, the clerk would mail a certified copy of the judges expungement order to all interested parties such as the jail, arresting agency, state attorney’s office, etc. ordering each agency to destroy all public records relating to your arrest.
Am I Eligible for an Expungement?
You are eligible to expunge your record if:
- Your charges were dropped or dismissed prior to trial;
- You have never been previously adjudicated guilty of a criminal offense, and
- You have not previously sealed or expunged your record
If you entered a plea and were sentenced, you may be eligible to seal your record. Sealing is virtually identical to an expungement as both processes remove all information relating to your arrest and prosecution from public record. The sealing process takes five to eight months. In addition to being otherwise eligible to seal your arrest record, the charge you seek to seal must not be listed in Florida Statue 943.059 as crimes listed there are not eligible to be sealed.
Am I Eligible for a Sealing?
You are eligible to seal your record if:
- You were not adjudicated guilty of the charge;
- You are not on probation or any other form of supervision for the charge;
- The charge you want to seal is not listed in Florida Statue 943.059;
- You were not adjudicated guilty of any other criminal offense, and
- You have not previously sealed or expunged your record.
The Right to Deny that You Were Ever Arrested
After you have your record sealed or expunged, you are allowed to lawfully deny the fact that you were ever arrested. There are ten statutory exceptions to this rule. Further, all records relating to your arrest will be made nonpublic and won’t be accessible to any private employer. This includes the police report, court disposition and all other case information on the clerk’s website relating to your arrest and criminal charges.
Contact Aaron O’Brien about Sealing & Expungement
Any mark on your criminal record can jeopardize future employment and educational opportunities. Contact the O’Brien law firm to discuss your sealing and expungement eligibility. Call 239-332-8050 to speak directly with Aaron O’Brien.