How to Seal or Expunge Your Florida Criminal Record

How to Seal or Expunge Your Florida Criminal Record

August 14, 2019 6 By Kailee Schamberger


An arrest or dismissed case on your criminal record
in Florida can subject you to employment and housing discrimination
long after the case was closed. A common misconception is that a case
that does not result in a conviction will not show on your record
or will come off your record on its own. The reality is that Florida’s courts
and law enforcement agencies make it easy for anyone to access criminal records; even records of cases that did not result in a conviction. Fortunately, there is relief available in Florida that can, in some cases, seal or expunge the record,
thus making it no longer available for the public to view. This video will provide you information on
criminal record sealing and expungement in Florida. It even includes some pointers
that most attorneys don’t know. I am attorney Melissa Higbee,
the lead Florida attorney for RecordGone.com We have helped nearly 20,000 people
successfully clear their criminal records. It is our pleasure to give you
some free information and expert advice about sealing
and expungement in Florida. If you have not already done so, click here
right now to subscribe to our YouTube channel. Laws are always improving,
and we want to make sure that you always know what your best options are for making sure
you’re past criminal record does not hurt your future. If your case did not occur in Florida,
you need to see one of our other videos. Let’s begin with, What is Sealing and Expungement
and What Does Each Do? Record Sealing and Expungement in Florida
are very similar. They are close to identical for practical purposes. Both give you the ability to deny
that the arrest ever occurred, and once granted, both make the court and law enforcement agencies seal access to the arrest
and court records from the public. This is great for employment and housing applications. Unfortunately, in neither circumstance
are the records completely destroyed. But once sealed or expunged, the records are then
confidential and can be accessed only in limited circumstances by government agencies. Here is a list of those agencies
who will have access to sealed and expunged Florida records when applying
for employment or a professional license: If you are applying for employment
or a license with any of those places or agencies, you’ll have to disclose that you have
a sealed or expunged record. In all other circumstances you are legally entitled to deny that you have ever been arrested
or to court for the case. So, Who is eligible for Sealing or
Expungement in Florida? Florida allows for expungement and sealing
under Florida Statute Sections 943.0585 and 943.059. Unfortunately, the laws in Florida
are very strict and relief is only available to those with cases that were dismissed
or did not result in a conviction. Furthermore, an applicant may not have
any other convictions on their record from Florida or any other state. You can also only have one case sealed
or expunged in Florida. If you have multiple cases dismissed, you will have to select which one
you would like to receive relief from. In addition to the previously mentioned requirements: Expungement is available to these types
of cases with no conviction entered: Arrested, but no charges were filed. Arrested, but a Grand Jury did not find
enough evidence to proceed. Arrested and charges were filed, but the Prosecutor
decided to not proceed and dismissed the case. Arrested and charged, but the Judge
dismissed the charges. Your case has already been ordered sealed
and 10 years have passed. Record Sealing is available to those
with a case whose adjudication was withheld and not an offense that is prohibited from being sealed. Not sure what withheld adjudication is? Withheld adjudication is when the judge orders
probation but does not convict the defendant. Florida Statute 948.01 allows the judges
to withhold adjudication after the judge imposes a probation sentence. If probation is successfully completed,
the judge must release the defendant from probation without any additional sentence
for the underlying offense. Withheld adjudication is not considered a conviction. Here is a list of offenses that are prohibited
from being sealed. Please click pause if you need more time to read them. Okay, that was a lot of information; let’s recap it really quick: To be eligible for Expungement in Florida you must: Have no convictions of any offense anywhere. Have never had another case sealed
or expunged previously in Florida. Have had your arrest dismissed without completing withheld adjudication or your record has already been
ordered sealed and 10 years have passed since. To be eligible for Record Sealing in Florida you must: Have no convictions of any offense anywhere. Have never had another case sealed or expunged
previously in Florida. Have successfully completed withheld adjudication. Have not completed withheld adjudication
for a prohibited offense. What is the Record Sealing or Expungement Process? The process can be lengthy, about a year,
because you have to take several steps and maybe jump through a few hoops. First, you have to get what is called
a Certificate of Eligibility from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. You have to fill out and have notarized an
application for the certificate, get certified copies of your records,
have your fingerprints taken, get the prosecuting attorney to sign the application if applying for an expungement, and pay the application fee
in order to submit the application. The FDLE will take their time, around 6 months,
and either issue you a certificate, ask for more information, or deny the request
for the certificate outright. Second, once you obtain a certificate of eligibility,
you fill out the court’s petition, and submit it to the court with their filing fee. The court will send a copy of the request
to the prosecuting attorney and they will be given a chance to respond. Depending on the response from the prosecutor,
the judge has the option to set a hearing or just grant or deny the request without a hearing. Typically, judges grant the request for sealing
or expungement without a hearing. Our firm practices record clearing throughout
the country and, unfortunately, Florida has one of the more difficult processes
to navigate. You can, of course, try to do all of this on your own, but I would suggest you hire someone
that knows what they are doing. Now let’s talk about the benefits of having
your case Sealed or Expunged in Florida: Sealed and Expunged records
are no longer public record. Legally entitles you to deny the case or that you’ve been arrested
for most employment and housing applications. Make it easier to get or maintain professional licenses,
even though you may need to disclose the sealing or expungement to licensing authorities. You can confidently tell friends and family
that you have not been arrested or had a court case. No more anxiety or fear when someone plans
to run a background check on you. Sealing and Expungement may allow you to become
eligible for more or even better loans or rates. As you can see, these benefits are tremendous. Now let me answer a few common questions. Is a hearing in court required? Sometimes. Whether a hearing is set is dependent on whether
the prosecuting attorney agrees to your application or if the judge simply wants to have one. Typically, judges do not set hearings on these and make
the decision based on the documentation submitted. What are my chances of success of having my case
sealed or expunged in Florida? There is a presumption in your favor if you meet the
statutory requirements for sealing or expungement. That typically means that the prosecutor and/or judge
needs a really good reason to deny your request. If you’re eligible, the chances of success
are very high. What if my request to seal my record is denied? Well, if this happens, we will evaluate the reason
for the denial and if we disagree, we can almost immediately file a request for the judge
to reconsider the decision. We can also file an appeal to a higher court
or simply reapply in a few months. Before I give you a few expert tips,
let me tell you a little bit more about us. RecordGone.com has helped thousands of people
get a second chance in life and we would love the opportunity to help you too. We do the job right and we provide what we believe
is the most thorough sealing possible. We don’t leave anything to chance when it comes
to clearing your criminal record. Okay, here are a couple of expert tips. A common catch is the withheld adjudication case
that was a case “related to domestic violence.” Many times people believe that, since their offense wasn’t specifically called “domestic violence,” it’ll be okay. Unfortunately, if your withheld adjudication offense
was related to some sort of domestic disturbance, it’s probably going to be prohibited from sealing
even if it’s not called “domestic violence”. If you have your record sealed or expunged, make sure you keep an original copy of your order
in a safe place. If you ever need to get a copy in the future, it can be very difficult to get from the court
after your record was sealed or expunged. Here is a critical one. Courts do not update background check companies about conviction records
that have been expunged or sealed. Instead, many background check companies
just request updates about once a year. So, unless the background check companies
are notified about your sealing, there is a dramatically increased chance
that your sealed record may still show up on a background check for
up to a year after it has been sealed by the court. Most attorneys only handle court records. This is a big problem. We handle court records, and we can go farther
and get your record removed from where it matters most,
the background check companies. If you want your record removed
from background check companies as fast as possible, we have an exclusive service
that solves this big problem. Click here to learn more about it. If you want to see if you are eligible to have
your Florida case sealed or expunged, click here to take our free online eligibility test
or give us a call. Click subscribe to our YouTube channel
so that you are always kept up-to-date on law changes that may affect the status of your criminal record and
your ability to remove it from background checks. Thank you for watching RecordGone TV.