In passing Florida sealing and expungement laws, lawmakers acknowledge that someone can make a mistake that shouldn’t necessarily impact the rest of their life.
Both sealing and expungement can help someone who was charged with a crime put the crime behind them.
However, although many people use the terms sealing and expungement synonymously, they actually refer to slightly different things.
Florida Sealing and Expungement Laws
When a criminal history record is sealed or expunged, the public will not have access to the record.
This means that most potential employers, schools, friends, or neighbors will not be able to see the record. However, when you seal your record, certain governmental agencies can still access the records.
For example, the following parties can still access a sealed record:
- You and your attorney;
- Criminal justice agencies, when determining your eligibility to purchase a gun;
- Judges; when making certain case-related decisions; and
- Certain employers in the criminal justice system.
On the other hand, when you expunge your record, most of the government agencies that would be able to access a sealed record will not be able to access it.
In fact, under Florida Statutes section 943.0585, any expunged criminal history record “must be physically destroyed or obliterated by any criminal justice agency having custody of such record.”
The most significant exception is that the Department of Law Enforcement will still retain a copy.
Practically speaking, in most circumstances, sealing and expunging have the same effect in that you can deny that an arrest or conviction ever occurred.
Eligibility for Sealing and Expungement
While sealing or expunging a record offers many people a fresh start, not everyone is eligible.
For example, under Florida Statute 943.0584 if you have a conviction for any, or if adjudication is withheld for any violent offense, sex offense, or drug trafficking, you are not eligible for either an expungement or sealing.
In addition, under Florida law, no one can obtain more than one sealing or expungement in their lifetime.
Are You Looking for a Fresh Start?
If you were arrested for a crime but beat the case and want to clear your record of the arrest, you may be eligible for an expungement. And even if you entered a plea agreement, you may still be able to seal your record.
At Orlando Defense, our experienced Florida criminal defense attorney helps clients obtain a fresh start through petitions to seal and expunge their records.
For more than 20 years, the founder of Orlando Defense, Attorney Jeffery Higgins, has aggressively defended the rights of clients facing all types of offenses.
He also has significant experience successfully obtaining countless expungements and sealings on behalf of his clients.
To learn more and to schedule a free consultation, contact Orlando Defense at 407-753-1126 today. You can also contact us through our online form.