Every state has its own specifications for individuals seeking to clear their criminal record. In Florida, both record sealing and expungement are available, depending on the circumstances. In this blog, we will discuss the eligibility requirements for record sealing and expungement in Florida, as well as the eight different types of expungement that Florida offers.
Who Qualifies for Expungement in Florida?
In Florida, you may qualify for criminal record sealing or expungement depending on your case and criminal history. If you were arrested but not convicted of a crime, your criminal record may be eligible for sealing or expungement. Be aware that to qualify, you must not have had a criminal record sealed or expunged before in the past (even in another state), nor can you have an already pending petition to seal or expunge a criminal record. Florida does offer expungement of arrest records for those who have been arrested contrary to law or by mistake, however.
Note that if a person has been adjudicated guilty of any criminal offense in any jurisdiction, whether or not related to the charge that the person is applying to seal, the record is ineligible for sealing and the application will be denied. Florida conducts state, national, and criminal traffic record checks when processing applications, so your records will be thoroughly examined.
8 Types of Expungement
The benefits of having your record sealed is that the public (including private employers) cannot view it, and sealed or expunged arrests are not required to be disclosed in many cases. However, do note that with a sealed record, most government agencies will still have access to it, though an expunged record will not be available for government view without a court order.
Florida offers eight different types of expungement depending on the nature of the case and age of the alleged offender. An administrative expungement handles an arrest (adult or juvenile) that was made contrary to the law or by mistake. An individual may apply for a court-ordered sealing or expungement of their criminal history record by applying for a Certificate of Eligibility, after which the court determines if the applicant is statutorily eligible to petition to have their Florida criminal history record sealed or expunged.
Note that those whose offenses qualify might receive an automatic sealing of their criminal history record when the Clerk of the Court submits a qualifying certified disposition to the state. However, this process does not seal records at the local level.
Specific types of expungement are also available to juvenile offenders. Juvenile Diversion Expungement involves a person who has completed an authorized juvenile diversion program for a misdemeanor and may consequently apply for a juvenile diversion expungement.
As the name suggests, an Automatic Juvenile Expungement calls for the automatic expungement of a minor’s criminal record at the age of 21 or the age of 26 if the minor was committed to a juvenile correctional facility or juvenile prison, provided they have satisfied certain conditions (not have forcible felony convictions as an adult).
Early Juvenile Expungement might also be an option for a person between the ages of 18 and 21, who may, under certain conditions, apply to have their juvenile criminal history record expunged. A person may apply to the appropriate prosecuting attorney to approve the expungement of their juvenile criminal history record if they have not been charged with or found to have committed any criminal offense within the past 5 years.
Human Trafficking Expungement
A person who is a victim of human trafficking may petition for the expungement of a criminal history record resulting from the arrest or filing of charges for being part of the human trafficking scheme. Victims of human trafficking who have been arrested for or convicted of a prostitution or obscenity offense may petition to have their record expunged and must accompany their petition with:
- a sworn statement attesting that they are eligible for expungement and that they do not have any other pending petition to expunge or seal; and
- if it exists, official documentation showing that they were a victim of human trafficking.
Lawful Self-Defense Expungement
Those who acted in lawful self-defense pursuant to the provisions related to justifiable use of force in Florida may apply for a Lawful Self-Defense Certificate of Eligibility with the appropriate state attorney or prosecutor.
Let The Wiseman Law Firm Help
If you seek to have your record sealed or expunged in Florida, contact an experienced lawyer immediately. Whether in filing the petition or determining your eligibility, you should work with an attorney to most efficiently resolve your case and help you obtain the clean slate you deserve.
Contact The Wiseman Law Firm today for a free case evaluation. Se habla español!