Expunging or Sealing Criminal Records in Florida
When people think of the negative consequences of a criminal arrest, they usually envision a court trial, time in jail and the impact on other family members. However, the consequences of conviction can extend far beyond an arrest, conviction and paying the penalty. Since a criminal record is a public record, having one may end up preventing you from getting certain jobs, professional licenses or housing. In some cases, Florida permits the expungement or sealing of criminal records. Ask your attorney if you are eligible for this service.
Florida has one of the toughest policies for expunging records. If you have been adjudicated guilty of any criminal offense, you are not eligible. Records can only be expunged under the following circumstances:
- Adjudication of guilt withheld
- Charges dismissed
- Final verdict of not guilty
- No record of previous expungements
- Crime falls within list of expungeable convictions
Judges can withhold adjudication of guilt in cases where they recommend probation. Even if you successfully complete the probation, the adjudication of guilt remains in your record. Many people are unpleasantly surprised to find that they have a criminal record even though the charges against them were made in error or were subsequently dropped. You only get one chance to ask for an expungement in Florida, and the state has a narrow list of eligible charges. For instance, adjudication of guilt is mandatory for a DUI charge, which must remain on your criminal record.
Expunging a record is a more permanent solution than having your records sealed. If you are eligible for either option, ask your criminal defense attorney to help you get through the process. Having your criminal record erased or sealed is a complicated process, but ultimately worth the trouble.