People can often make poor decisions when they're young. Minors and young adults are often impulsive, rash, and prone to making decisions without thinking. They are also more susceptible to peer pressure, which could cause them to commit crimes such as theft and underage drinking. However, unlike being arrested as an adult, the Juvenile Justice System focuses more on rehabilitation than punishment. The justice system knows that kids make mistakes, and it believes that younger people have a better opportunity to change their ways, that they're more adaptable. It is because of this tendency for the law to think better of minors, that it allows the expungement of juvenile crimes.
In Florida, a juvenile record can be expunged, or sealed, depending on the circumstances. However, you can only petition for sealing or expunging only once, unless a judge decides that another arrest is directly related to the arrest that was initially sealed or expunged. In particular cases, the record will be expunged automatically without your petition.
All juvenile criminal records can be expunged unless you were found guilty or adjudicated delinquent for any of the acts related to your sealed record, you were convicted of a serious offense (such as assault, battery, firearm use, unlawful use of destructive devices or bombs, child neglect, arson injuring a firefighter, indecent exposure, petty theft, and animal cruelty). Likewise, you can't expunge your juvenile criminal history if your record involves a violation of pretrial detention and release, sexual misconduct, child enticement or luring, procuring a minor for prostitution, lewd offenses in the presence of a minor under 16, voyeurism, fraud, lewd offenses in the presence of an elderly or disabled person, trafficking, or any other violation that requires sex offender registration.
Even if your record is expunged, however, it will still be available to others in very limited circumstances. Generally, you're allowed to keep your record to yourself. If you are applying to a criminal justice agency, admission to the Florida Bar, are seeking employment for certain other agencies or organizations, or are the subject of criminal prosecution, your record will be examined. Florida Statutes § 943.0585 and 943.059 list all the exceptions to expungement.
In order to petition to seal or expunge your record, you must apply for a certificate of eligibility for sealing. After you receive the certificate, you can file your petition in the county court that handled your juvenile case.
To find out whether your record qualifies for expungement, talk to one of our experienced Florida criminal defense attorneys. We have more than 100 years of combined criminal law experience to put to work on your case and will aggressively defend you in court. Contact us at (888) 484-5057 or fill out our online form to schedule your free case consultation today. We look forward to hearing about your situation.