Expungements and the Sealing of Your Florida Criminal Record
Background checks are commonly done by lenders, landlords and employers before making a job offer, approving someone for a loan, or allowing a person to rent a home or apartment. This is why, if possible, you should consider exploring an expungement or the sealing of your record.
At Musca Law, our Florida Expungement Attorneys can help you to ascertain whether you are eligible to have your criminal record expunged or sealed, and if so, how to address the bureaucracy associated with the process. Keep in mind that a judge has the discretion to reject your request, so it is prudent for you to work with a skilled Florida Expungement Lawyer to help you navigate the process. Contact Musca Law today at (888) 484-5057 to learn more about your legal rights and options.
Expungements and the sealing of your criminal record are different avenues to explore. To better understand what path you should take, it is first important to know whether you have already been convicted as an adult. We will also need to determine whether you have had your record expunged or sealed in the past. Both factors will cause you to be disqualified however, there are exceptions to this rule.
The Reasons Why You Should Have Your Record Expunged or Sealed
There are a number of advantages to having your record expunged or sealed. The main benefit of same is that you can lawfully fail to acknowledge or deny your arrest record, once it is sealed or expunged.
Florida Statutes Section 943.053 is Florida’s open record law, which is one of the most liberal in the country. It provides that criminal history records, with certain exceptions, are available to the public. What this means is that anyone can access your criminal record through making a request and paying a fee. Your criminal record will often contain the charge(s) you faced as well as details about the circumstances of the case, the plaintiff’s allegations, as well as any witness statements.
There are a handful of exceptions to having your record sealed, which means that the public’s access to your criminal background is restricted. There are also exceptions that exist regarding having your record expunged, which means that files pertaining to your case are destroyed or removed from the public record. Records that are subject to expungement or sealing are charges, arrests, and the disposition of your case.
Ways to Clear Your Criminal History Record in Florida
There are a number of different ways in which you can clear your criminal record in Florida. These include the following:
- Administrative Expungement – via application to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), a person (both adults and juveniles) can seek to expunge his or her record if an arrest was made in violation of the law or by mistake.
- Expungement or the Sealing of One’s Tecord Through a Court Order – Under Florida Statutes Section 943.0585and Florida Statutes Section 943.059, they enable adults to submit an application to seal or expunge their criminal records. Once an application has been submitted, the FDLE will then render a determination as to whether the applicant is eligible to formally request that the court expunge or seal his or her record. If they determine that you are eligible, then the matter goes to a judge to determine whether to approve the application. If the request is denied, the applicant’s attorney will decide whether the FDLE mistakenly denied the request or made a mistake. Keep in mind that your lawyer will advise you, based upon you individual set of circumstances, whether it is worth your time to submit an application for the sealing or expungement of your criminal record.
- Self-Defense Expungement – This can be applied when the prosecutor renders a determination that you lawfully acted in self-defense pursuant to Chapter 776 of the Florida Statutes. This is typically pursued when criminal charges were never filed or they were dismissed by a judge.
- Automatic Juvenile Expungement – Once a minor reaches the age of 21 (or the age of 26 should the crime have been committed while he or she was in jail or other correctional facility). This presumes that certain factors have been satisfied, including that the minor was not convicted or charged with a forcible felony as an adult or had charges direct-filed as an adult.
- Juvenile Diversion Expungement –This applies to juveniles who completed a court-ordered diversion program or for those who committed a misdemeanor that wasn’t associated with violence. This option is not available to minors who committed a domestic violence-related offense.
- Human Trafficking Expungement – For a person who is the victim of human trafficking, he or she can request the court to expunge his or her criminal record due to the fact that the offense was caused by being involved in a human trafficking scheme.
- Early Juvenile Expungement - Under certain circumstances, those who are eighteen to 21 years of age can submit an application to have their criminal record expunged. In general, a prosecutor has the authority to approve or deny the application. It is typically approved if the juvenile had a clean record for at least five years.
Keep in mind that as of 2013, a prior sealing of a criminal record of an expungement that occurs in another state does not disqualify a person from having their Florida criminal record sealed or expunged.
Let Us Help You Move on in Life! Call (888) 484-5057
A criminal record could follow you for the rest of your life, affecting your personal and professional life for years after you committed the crime. In order to move on from the mistakes you made, you should be able to have a clean slate. At Musca Law, our Florida defense attorneys are experienced in Petitions to Seal and Expunge. We believe in second chances and are committed to putting more than 150 years of combined legal experience to work in order to make that happen. We are dedicated to providing each and every client first-class representation from start to finish and will develop the best strategy possible to achieve positive results.