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What Is The Difference Between Expungement and Sealing?

June 21, 2024
By The Wiseman Law Firm

Being charged with a crime not only means you will face legal penalties, if you are convicted, this information will also become public information and could affect your future in many ways. Criminal convictions can be seen in criminal background checks, making it difficult to secure a job or rent an apartment. However, one option that may be available to you with the help of a criminal defense attorney is to have these public documents expunged or sealed. To understand what the best option is for your unique situation, consult a trusted lawyer who can provide you with information on the difference between expungement and sealing. 

The Wiseman Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm in Florida that helps clients understand their rights to a fair trial and justice after they have been accused of a crime. Our trusted criminal defense attorney understands how being charged with a crime can be overwhelming and upsetting for our clients and their families. Our criminal defense attorney will work hard to help you build a strong defense and ensure you have knowledge of every step of the legal process.

Expungement Vs. Sealing: Understanding the Difference Between These Legal Options 

After you are convicted of a crime, the only way to prevent this information from making its way into the public sphere of knowledge is to have the documentation expunged or sealed. If you are unsure of the difference or which option you qualify for, a trusted criminal defense lawyer may be able to help. 


With the expungement of a criminal case, the arresting agency, prosecution, and probation officer’s files are destroyed. However, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will keep a copy, but the information will not be available to the public.  

To qualify for expungement, you must have no prior convictions and the charges must be dismissed. Dismissal of the charges brought against you means that the prosecutor dropped the case and the judge granted a motion to dismiss. Dismissal may also occur if you were acquitted at trial. Your case may also be expunged if you previously had the case sealed for a decade or longer. A Florida criminal defense attorney can help you understand whether you qualify for expungement.


The sealing of a criminal case involves all agency files being sealed with tape. However, the files are not destroyed like with expungement.

To have your criminal case sealed, you must have pled guilty, no contest, or have been found guilty at trial. However, in all three cases, adjudication must have been withheld. While there are certain offenses that do not qualify for sealing, an experienced Florida attorney can help determine if you qualify for this option.

When your case is sealed or expunged, you can be awarded the second chance you deserve to find employment, clear your reputation, and start over as you move forward with your life. To learn more about whether expungement or sealing your criminal case is an option for you, contact a Florida criminal defense attorney today.

Learn More About Having Your Case Expunged or Sealed With the Help of a Florida Attorney Today

Understanding whether you qualify to have your criminal records expunged or sealed requires knowledgeable guidance to ensure you know what options are available to you. At The Wiseman Law Firm, our seasoned Florida criminal defense attorney can offer the support and defense strategy you need as you aim to be able to move forward in life without the shadow of a criminal record. 

Contact us today by calling (407) 420-4647 or filling out our contact form. We will protect your rights and work towards ensuring you are able to explore expungement or sealing options.

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