Expungement & Record Sealing in Florida
Learn if You Qualify from Our Jacksonville Expungement Lawyers
An expungement or a sealing of your criminal record will make a difference on job applications. It is important your criminal case is evaluated to see if you qualify. If you are trying to move on with your life, but your past is not letting you, the Jacksonville expungement attorneys at The Law Offices of Kate Mesic, P.A. can help you get your life back by helping you get your criminal record sealed or expunged.
Many people simply do not know that once they are arrested, the police report and court records are a public record. This means that anyone can go online or to the courthouse and see these documents. Even after your case is dismissed or a not guilty verdict, the record remains public.
Call our expungement lawyers in Jacksonville at (904) 615-8950 for a free initial consultation.
Protect Your Future by Sealing Your Criminal Record
Under Florida law, once the record is sealed or expunged, you simply do not need to acknowledge any arrests covered by the sealed or expunged record.
The process, however, can be lengthy and requires precision. Our Jacksonville criminal defense attorneys will help you every step of the way. A safe estimate of the entire process would be between six and seven months, before your record is no longer available to the general public. Since expungement has an extra step of getting the application approved through the State Attorney’s Office, the expungement process can take longer.
To learn more about your options, contact The Law Offices of Kate Mesic at (904) 615-8950 today.
Qualifications for Expungement & Record Sealing
Similar to the conditions applicable to those applying for the sealing of their criminal record, those who seek to get their criminal record expunged:
- Must have no prior convictions
- The charge in question must be dropped, dismissed, Nolle prosequi (be unwilling to pursue, or no information filed. Call us to discuss your case, and we will help you determine if you qualify to apply for an expungement
If you have ever been adjudicated guilty (convicted as an adult) of a criminal offense, including a criminal traffic offense, such as DUI, or DWLS, criminal ordinance violation, misdemeanor, or felony, you will not qualify for having your record sealed or expunged.
Further, the State of Florida allows only “one bite at the apple,” meaning you can only petition once in your lifetime to seal or expunge your record, unless the judge determines that an additional arrest was directly related to the original arrest.
A criminal record is a nuisance. It can follow you everywhere you go, show up when you least expect it, and prevent you from doing things that others may be able to do. Applying for jobs? Your criminal record may prevent you from getting hired. Adopting a child? That could be difficult, too, thanks to your criminal record. Buying a firearm? Not if your record contains certain charges. Your criminal record may dictate how you proceed throughout your life.
But these scenarios only apply to those who have been convicted of major crimes, right? No! They also apply to those who have a minor blip on their otherwise pristine record, so that seemingly harmless charge you had when you were in college can still come back to haunt you at age 45. But there may be options to prevent this from happening—you may be able to make that one minor event disappear by getting it expunged or sealed. Expunging your record means the criminal charge is removed from your record; sealing your record means your record is only accessible to government agencies, not the general public. Here are three things you need to know about the process:
Certain Criminal Offenses Cannot Be Sealed or Expunged
While most offenses qualify, if your record involves a prohibited offense, you cannot expunge or seal your record.
Although a non-exhaustive list, the prohibited offenses include:
- Sex Offenses
- Kidnapping or False Imprisonment
- Crimes Against Children
- Drug Trafficking
- Domestic Violence
- Acts of Terrorism
- Dangerous Crimes as defined in 041, Florida Statutes
It’s a One-Time Deal
You can only get your record sealed or expunged once, so if you have multiple qualifying criminal charges, choose wisely. For example, if you have a prior misdemeanor offense and the adjudication was withheld, and later you were charged with a felony that was later dismissed or dropped, your best choice would be to expunge the felony charge. You cannot do both.
Having prior criminal charges on your record does not have to damage your future. If you qualify to expunge or seal your record, then it is entirely possible to move forward unaffected by a momentary lapse in judgment. For additional information regarding sealing and expunction, please click here.
Sealing vs. Expunging a Criminal Record
When a record is sealed, the public will no longer have access to the record through the government databases. For purposes of employment background checks, this means most employers will not have access to the information. However, please be aware that city, county, state, and federal government agencies will continue to have access to your criminal record.
There are circumstances where you still must acknowledge an arrest, however. You cannot deny or fail to acknowledge the arrest if you are applying to change your immigration status, are a defendant in a criminal case or are applying for any of the following: a job with a criminal justice agency, contract with, or license by the Department of Children and Family Services, a job with the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Education, any district school board, any university laboratory school, and charter school, any private or parochial school, or any local governmental entity that licenses child care facilities; or for use by such contractor or licensee in a sensitive position having direct contact with children, the developmentally disabled, the aged, or the elderly; or a job with or access to a seaport, or admission to The Florida Bar; or petitioning to seal or expunge.
“I found Kate through a friend who had used her in the past. As the alleged "victim" of a criminal case, she took my requests very seriously and helped ensure I got the outcome I wanted vs. what the state wanted to happen. She understood my concerns and protected me in the court from being asked any questions. She had everything dismissed and resolved in less than a week. I am extremely happy with the outcome and will always recommend her to people.”