It’s hard to put your past behind you when you’re constantly haunted by a reminder of it. When potential employers find out you have an arrest record, they are often quick to make judgments about your character and trustworthiness.
You may find it tough to get a job, rent an apartment, or pursue certain professions.
If a lapse in judgment in your past or a youthful mistake is stopping you from fulfilling your goals, you deserve a second chance and a clean slate.
Expunging and sealing criminal records in Florida is a complex procedure. Many non-attorney websites promise they can get criminal records expunged.
Be cautious of any non-lawyer website that makes guarantees about this complicated legal process.
It’s important to work with an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer to ensure you have the best chance possible of getting your record expunged.
Expungement of Records in Florida
Before the internet, getting access to an individual’s criminal record was a much more involved process than it is today.
Running a background check usually involved physically going to a building where records are kept. As you might expect, this deterred many people from digging into another person’s past.
The internet has made it much easier for people to find information, including items most people would prefer to keep private.
Under Section 943.059 of the Florida Statutes, certain criminal records can be sealed or expunged. However, there are a limited number of records eligible for expungement.
For example, if you were arrested but not convicted, your record may qualify for expungement. It’s important to note that you are only eligible for expungement once, even if you have a previous expungement in another state.
Florida also allows expungement under limited circumstances for cases in which a person pled guilty or nolo contendere.
Generally, these records can only be expunged in cases of acquittal, in cases where the prosecutor dismissed the charges, or in cases where the state attorney decided not to file on the case.
Is My Criminal Record Destroyed?
If your record qualifies for expungement, it is removed from nearly all computer databases, and any paper copies are removed and permanently destroyed.
Once your expungement is granted, you can legally tell employers and potential landlords that you do not have a criminal record.
Many law enforcement agencies, as well as regular members of the public, will no longer have access to your criminal history.
However, expungement does not permanently delete your record for certain high-level federal and state agencies.
Furthermore, certain professional licensing boards and other civilian agencies may still have the ability to access your record.
For the most part, a person who has successfully expunged a criminal record can check “no” on paperwork asking if he or she has ever been arrested or charged with a crime.
In Florida, however, certain situations demand full disclosure of a criminal past, even with an expungement.
The following situations require disclosure of your criminal background:
- Applying for employment in a law enforcement capacity
- If you are named a defendant in a subsequent criminal case
- Applications for admission to the Florida bar
- Buying firearms
- Filing another application for expungement or sealing of records
- Applications for professional licensing through the Department of Education
In some cases, sealing a record is enough to keep your information private, as most individuals and entities that wish to view it must file an application to do so.
Are There Charges That Can’t Be Expunged or Sealed?
Florida is strict when it comes to expunging and sealing criminal records. The statutes bar many crimes, including sex crimes and violent crimes, from being expunged under any circumstances.
Your lawyer can help you determine whether your criminal history makes it possible for you to explore expungement or the sealing of your record.
Contact a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer Today