Alavi, Bird and Pozzuto Criminal Defense, Family Law, Personal Injury, Ocala, Gainesville Lawyers

EXPUNGEMENT AND SEALING FAQs

Your past does not have to interfere with your future. In Florida, even if the state has dropped or dismissed your criminal charges unless you expunge or seal your charges, your criminal record still exists and may be accessed by almost anyone, including potential employers, colleges or the public. However, If you meet the eligibility criteria, Florida law allows you to seal or expunge your Florida criminal records related to one criminal episode.
Here are some commonly asked questions:

  1. Why do I have a criminal history record when the charges against me were dropped/dismissed?
    Florida criminal history records are public unless the record is sealed or expunged. A criminal history record is created when a person is arrested and fingerprinted and includes the disposition of that arrest, whether it is a conviction, acquittal, dismissal of charges before trial or other disposition.
  2. What charges may NOT be sealed?
    Florida Law does not allow ALL criminal charges to be SEALED. However, if a person has been adjudicated guilty of any criminal offense in any jurisdiction (or a minor adjudicated delinquent for any felony or for certain specified misdemeanors), whether or not related to the charge that the person is applying for, the record may NOT be sealed. Click here for charges that may NOT be SEALED or EXPUNGED.
  3. What charges may be expunged?
    In many cases, a charge dismissed before trial may be expunged. However, Florida Law does not allow ALL criminal charges to be EXPUNGED. Please contact my office to discuss whether your particular criminal charges may be EXPUNGED.
  4. What charges may NOT be expunged or sealed?
    If you entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere (no contest) to any of the following offenses, you are ineligible to have your criminal record sealed or expunged under Florida law. However, if you were charged or arrested for any of these offenses, but the charges were later abandoned, dismissed, or dropped, you may still be eligible to have the criminal records expunged. Aircraft piracy – Section 860.16, Florida Statutes
    Arson – Section 806.01, Florida Statutes
    Assault (Aggravated) – Section 784.021, Florida Statutes
    Battery (Aggravated) – Section 784.045, Florida Statutes
    Battery (Sexual) – Chapter 794, Florida Statutes
    Burglary of a dwelling – Section 810.02, Florida Statutes
    Carjacking – Section 812.133, Florida Statutes
    Child (Abuse or Aggravated) – Chapter 827, Florida Statutes
    Child (Sex with victim age 12 to age 18 by family member) – Section 827.071, Florida Statutes
    Child (Sexual performance Of) – Section 827.071, Florida Statutes
    Communications Fraud Act Violations – Section 817.034, Florida Statutes
    Domestic Violence (Resulting in Injury) – Section 741.28, Florida Statutes
    Drug Trafficking – Section 893.135, Florida Statutes
    Elderly (Abuse or Aggravated) – Section 825.102, Florida Statutes
    Explosives, illegal use of – Section 790.001, Florida Statutes
    Homicide – Chapter 782, Florida Statutes
    Kidnapping – Chapter 787, Florida Statutes
    Lewd or lascivious Acts on Children – Section 800.04, Florida Statutes
    Lewd or lascivious Acts on the Elderly – Section 825.1025, Florida Statutes
    Manslaughter – Section 782.07, Florida Statutes
    Obscenity (Providing to Minors) – Section 847.0133, Florida Statutes
    Obscenity (Computer Pornography) – Section 847.0135, Florida Statutes
    Obscenity (Selling or Buying Minors) – Section 847.0145, Florida Statutes
    Prostitution (Procuring under 18) – Section 796.03, Florida Statutes
    Public Officer or Public Employee Offenses – Chapter 839, Florida Statutes
    Robbery – Section 812.13, Florida Statutes
    Robbery (Home Invasion) – Section 812.135, Florida Statutes
    Stalking and Aggravated stalking – Section 784.048, Florida Statutes
    Sexual Misconduct – Section 393.135, Florida Statutes
    Sexual Misconduct (DCF) – Section 394.4593, Florida Statutes
    Sexual Misconduct (Corrections) – Section 916.1075, Florida Statutes
    Terrorism – Section 775.30, Florida Statutes
    Voyeurism – Section 810.14, Florida Statutes
  5. If the judge gave me “Adjudication Withheld” can I expunge my records?
    A charge resulting in a withholding of adjudication (adjudication withheld) may NOT be EXPUNGED; however, if eligible, the record may be SEALED.
  6. Can an ACQUITTAL (not-guilty verdict) after trial be expunged?
    An Acquittal may NOT be expunged until it has first been legally sealed for at least 10 years
  7. What effect does sealing or expunging my record have?
    Under Florida law, a sealed or expunged criminal record is confidential and any State or Federal agency may not disclose the record to the public. A criminal justice agency that possesses your criminal record is not allowed to say that you even had a criminal record, or that it was sealed or expunged. Also, information regarding the criminal offense that was sealed or expunged is removed from the Criminal Justice Information System so that over time, the record will not be found during background checks. However, if you are applying for employment or professional licensure to a specified agency, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) may reveal the expunged record. The specified agencies are:

    • A law enforcement agency
    • The Department of Juvenile Justice
    • A contractor or licensee dealing with children
    • The Department of Education
    • Any public school
    • Any private school
    • The Florida Bar
  8. What’s the difference between Sealing and Expunging a Criminal Record?
    • Sealing:
      • Record information is removed from the public record
      • Record information is confidential
      • Public will not have access to record
      • A court order is required to access the record
      • The record is NOT destroyed
      • Specific government agencies have access to record
    • Expunging:
      • Record information is removed from the public record
      • Record information is confidential
      • Record information is physically destroyed
      • Even specific government agencies must obtain a court order to access records
      • A court order is required to access the record
  9. Will the criminal record still show up on my background check?
    No. Expungement or sealing removes the records so that the public cannot view your charges. A court order is necessary before a record can be accessed after a sealing or expungement has taken place.
  10. Can the public access a sealed record easier than an expunged record?
    No. Both procedures remove all information regarding the sealed or expunged record from the public view. A court order is necessary before a court record can be accessed after a sealing or expungement has taken place.
  11. When must an expunged record be disclosed?
    If you are applying for employment or professional licensure to a specified agency, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) may reveal the expunged record. The specified agencies are:

    • A law enforcement agency
    • The Department of Juvenile Justices
    • A contractor or licensee dealing with children
    • The Department of Education
    • Any public school
    • Any private school
    • The Florida Bar
  12. How long does it take?
    Typically, it takes four to six months to expunge a criminal record.
  13. Can it be done faster?
    No, not usually. However, once we begin the process I will diligently work to get your results as soon as possible.
  14. Can I seal or expunge more than one case?
    No, you can only seal or expunge one case. If you have a case sealed for ten years than you can expunge that same case but you can’t seal or expunge multiple cases.
  15. I had multiple charges from one arrest, can I seal or expunge them all?
    Yes, in many cases, if they stem from the same criminal episode and you were not convicted of any of the charges.
  16. What if I had a criminal history of another state sealed or expunged then am I eligible in FL?
    Yes, but only if the record was AUTOMATICALLY sealed or expunged by operation of law with no court order or petition/application by you.
  17. What is the difference between “adjudicated guilty” and a “withhold” of adjudication?
    When you enter a plea to an offense the judge can either adjudicate you guilty (if an adult), adjudicate you delinquent (if juvenile), or “withhold adjudication” of guilt or delinquent. Only charges that were either dropped or had a “withhold of adjudication” can be expunged or sealed.In Florida, a defendant can be found guilty of an offense but not be “convicted” of it. When a judge “withholds” adjudication of guilt the defendant is not “convicted” although he or she is still “found guilty” of the offense. Being “found guilty” and being “adjudicated guilty/delinquent” are two separate things. Offenses that have adjudication “withheld” may be eligible for SEALING. However, Florida law does not allow certain charges/cases to be Sealed. Offenses that were dropped or dismissed (“nolle prosequi” or “No Information filed”) may be expunged. An offense that you have been convicted of (“Adjudicated Guilty”) cannot be sealed or expunged.
  18. What if I don’t know exactly what is on my record?
    Our Expungement Attorneys will obtain your criminal history and determine what charges may be expunged or sealed and advise you on any options you may have.
  19. Can I expunge my federal conviction?
    You can only expunge certain cases. Typically, you have to show that the conviction was wrongful or unconstitutional. Additionally, a person can apply for a pardon through the President.
  20. Do I have to go to court?
    No, not usually. We are licensed Florida Expungement Attorneys and experience Criminal Defense Attorneys. We so will represent your interests in court. However, in most cases we are able to get your record sealed or expunged, if eligible, without a court hearing.
  21. Will there be a court hearing?
    Typically, the judge only requests a hearing in extremely recent cases. Or perhaps if the victim or the state is objecting.
  22. How long does it take for the records to be updated?
    The court updates the court records within 48 hours and the agencies have up to 60 days to update their records. However, the agencies typically update their records before the 60 days expire.
  23. How do the agencies know my expungement or sealing is granted?
    Once the court grants the expungement, the clerk of the court sends certified copies of the order to the prosecuting attorney, arresting agency, and any agency to which the court disseminated the criminal history information to. The arresting agency then sends the order to any other agency to which the arresting agency disseminated the criminal history information to. Additionally, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement forwards the order to expunge to the FBI.
  24. Why are cases denied?
    If a sealing or expungement (expuncture) is denied, it is usually because the criminal history reflects (1) the person has been convicted or adjudicated guilty of any felony or misdemeanor, (2) a prior sealing or expungement, (3) a pending petition to seal or expunge, or (4) that some or all of the charges related to the arrest or case were not dismissed prior to trial, adjudication, or the withholding of adjudication.
  25. If I had my civil rights restored, does my criminal history disappear?
    No. Persons who have been convicted of a felony (which causes a loss of civil rights) are not eligible for a sealing or expunging of their criminal history, regardless of having their civil rights restored.
  26. Can I vote after this?
    Yes. If you are eligible for your EXPUNGING OR SEALING then your voting rights are not taken away and you can currently vote.
  27. Will it help with immigration?
    Your expungement or sealing case may still be viewed and considered when determining your immigration case; however, it may be favorably received by the court and/or agency reviewing your case. CONTACT AN IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY FOR CLARIFICATION.
  28. Will this clear my FL Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles record?
    Expungement does not influence your driving record; however, that record, unlike your criminal history, only lasts for a certain period of time and the record will disappear after that period of time.
  29. Will this restore my right to own a firearm?
    If you are eligible for your expungement then your gun rights are not taken away and you can currently own or possess a gun.
  30. How is the effect of expunging a criminal record different from sealing a criminal record?
    When a criminal record is SEALED, the electronic information is no longer available to the public and the physical case file is wrapped in duct tape. When a criminal record is EXPUNGED, the file is physically destroyed. Please remember, however, that even if your criminal record is expunged, you still must acknowledge the arrests covered by that record if you are applying to work for a criminal justice agency, if you are the defendant in a criminal case, if you are applying to the Florida Bar or if you are applying to work with children, the disabled, or the elderly.