Juvenile Criminal Record Expungements

What is a juvenile criminal record?

A criminal history is created when a person is arrested and fingerprinted, which creates a record by the arresting agency. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) maintains all criminal records for the state of Florida. When a juvenile is arrested, the arresting agency is required to submit all arresting information to FDLE. The Department of Juvenile Justice is also required to inform the FDLE of the dispositions for all juvenile felonies and some misdemeanor offenses.

Who can see juvenile records?

Generally, public access to juvenile records is limited with some exceptions such as traffic violations. Law enforcement agencies may disclose to the public the name, photograph, address, and arrest report of any juvenile arrested for a felony. This information may also be disclosed if a juvenile has been found to be a habitual juvenile offender (committed three or more misdemeanors). Information may also be disclosed if a juvenile is transferred to adult court.

How to get a juvenile record sealed or expunged

In order to have a record sealed or expunged through a court order is a two-part process. First, an application must be submitted to FDLE to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility. Once the Certificate of Eligibility has been received, then a petition is filed with the court. The issuance of the Certificate of Eligibility does not guarantee that a criminal history record will be seal or expunged.

Automatic Expungement

Under Florida Statute 943.0515, juvenile records that are kept by law enforcement are automatically expunged once the juvenile reaches the age of 24 so long as the juvenile cases were dismissed, or received a withhold of adjudication disposition, and the juvenile is not a serious or habitual juvenile offender. Once these records are expunged, the criminal record will no longer appear on a background check.

However, if the juvenile is charged with or convicted of a felony in adult court, the juvenile record is then merged with the adult record and will remain on their criminal history. Florida Statute 943.0515(3)(b).

Court Ordered Expungement

A juvenile may petition the court to seal or expunge their record on a single criminal case provided that the juvenile qualifies under Florida Statute 943.0585. Once the juvenile record is expunged, it will no longer appear on a background check. This remedy may be used for a juvenile who did not have the benefit of participating in a diversion program.

However, this type of expungement may only be done once in a person’s life. Therefore, one should attempt to seek other expungement remedies if they are available.

Qualifications for Court Ordered Expungement

  1. Must not have been adjudicated delinquent for having committed any felony offense or misdemeanor offense of assault; battery; petit theft; carrying a concealed weapon or the open carrying of a weapon
  2. Must not have been adjudicated delinquent for the offense that the juvenile is seeking to be expunged
  3. The charge must have resulted in a “nolle prosequi,” “dismissal,” or “no petition”
  4. The juvenile has never obtained a prior sealing or expungement through a court order

Diversion Program Expungement

A juvenile may petition the court to expunge the non-judicial arrest record of a minor who has successfully completed a pre-arrest or post-arrest diversion program under Florida Statute 943.0582.

Once expunged under this section, the record will no longer appear on a background check. A juvenile who receives a Diversion Program Expungement is not prevented from pursuing the sealing or expungement of a subsequently committed a criminal offense.

Qualifications for Diversion Program Expungement:

  1. Successfully completed the Diversion Program
  2. The original charge must have involved a qualifying “nonviolent misdemeanor” offense as defined in Fla. Stat. 943.0582. A simple battery or assault are considered “nonviolent” so long as it was not domestic related.
  3. The juvenile is precluded from having the expungement ordered if he or she has previously been charged with or found to have committed any criminal offense

*Please note that as of July 1, 2016 there is no longer the requirement to submit the application for a juvenile expunction within 12 months of completion of the diversion program

Reasons for Denial for Juvenile Diversion Expungement

  1. The arrest offense for which the application was submitted would qualify as an act of domestic violence defined under Section 741.28 Florida Statutes.
  2. The arrest offense for which the application was submitted does not qualify as a nonviolent misdemeanor
  3. The applicant has been charged with or has committed a criminal offense or comparable ordinance violation other than the offense to be expunged, prior to the filing of the application for expungement
  4. The state attorney has declined to certify that the applicant has successfully completed a qualified pre/post arrest diversion program.

Excluded Offenses

Under Florida Statute 943.0515(3), any minor convicted after July 1, 2007 of certain sexual offenses, lewd or lascivious offenses committed upon or in the presence of persons less than 16 years of age, where the victim is under 12 years of age or where the court finds sexual activity by the use of force or coercion; or where the court finds molestation involving unclothed genitals, cannot have his or her records destroyed.

Instead, the “Criminal Justice Information Program” retains the criminal history record of those minors, and the records will be merged with the person’s adult criminal history record and retained as a part of the person’s adult record.

Call us to Determine Your Eligibility

If you have a juvenile arrest record that arose out of Duval, Clay, or St. Johns County, we have a great staff of lawyers that can help. Give us a call at (904) 615-8950, and we can help determine your eligibility for record sealing or expungement!

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