The Secret of Expunging or Sealing Your Criminal History

Many people run into legal difficulties at one point or another. For most, minor misdemeanor charges haunt them for the rest of their lives and may prevent them from getting a good job. This is because even dropped or dismissed charges remain on your record. These charges don’t just keep you from the job of your dreams but may stand in the way of a lease on a home or car. For many people it is possible to overcome this lingering problem by sealing or expunging your criminal record. Unfortunately many people do not fully understand what their options are, when faced with a criminal history. Contact us today to learn more about your legal options in Jacksonville, FL. Here are a few things to get you started on your quest to see if you qualify for an expungement or sealing:

Definition: Expungement takes place when a Court orders the physical destruction of a criminal record or part of the record by any criminal justice agency in possession of that record.

Note: Florida Department of Law Enforcement will retain your record even after the expunction.

How Many Times can a person receive an expungement? Only once and it must be a first offense.

Applicable Statute: Chapter 943.0585 of the Florida Statutes, entitled “Court-ordered expunction of criminal history records.” This statute can be found online at Florida Statutes.

Who qualifies? A person whose charge was dismissed before trial, which means a no information or nolle prosequi was filed by the State Attorney’s Office, may apply for an expungement right away, if it is a qualifying offense.

If adjudication was withheld or a trial resulted in an acquittal (a verdict of not guilty), the person may be eligible for an expungement after the record has been sealed for 10 years.

So, if you did enter a plea to an offense, but adjudication was withheld, you might still qualify for a sealing of your record.

Definition: Sealing your criminal record means that the record is no longer public, and when asked if you have been arrested you can say “NO!”

Note: same as with expungement Florida Department of Law Enforcement will retain your record even after it has been sealed.

How Many Times can a person seal their record? only once, just like with expungement you get one bite at the apple, so to speak. If you expunged your record before, you now cannot get a sealing for something else. This is a one in a lifetime opportunity.

Applicable Statute: Chapter 943.059 of the Florida Statutes, entitled “Court-ordered sealing of criminal history records.” This statute can be found at http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/

Who qualifies for a sealing of their record? A person who received an adjudication withheld and does not have any convictions on their record.

Most importantly, once you seal or expunge your record, you can safely answer on a job application that you have never been arrested. However, by statute, there are exceptions to this rule, for example if you are applying to be a teacher or a police officer, you must disclose all information. It is important to fully understand what the sealing or expungement can do for you, that is why you need to speak with an experienced attorney and see if you qualify.

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