Sealing and Expunging Your Record
Being arrested in the State of Florida can have many harsh consequences. If you’ve been arrested (even without being criminally convicted), there is most likely a public record of your arrest. This public record can be found by anyone. A simple trip to the clerk of court or police department is all that is necessary to read about your arrest.
Are you in the process of applying for a job? Are you thinking about going to college or any other type of school? Do you need a loan for your car, school or home? Are you considering moving into an apartment or condo association? Will you need a security clearance for a specific job? How about a professional license?
If you’ve answered YES to any of the above questions, you need to be aware that your prior arrest will be found by anyone doing a personal background check on you. Blake & Dorsten, P.A. can assist you in sealing and/or expunging your criminal record.
To begin with, it is important to know the difference between sealing your arrest record and expunging your arrest record.
In simple terms, an expungement means that every governmental agency that you had contact with during your arrest (the Police Department, the County Jail, the State Attorney’s Office and the Clerk of Court) must physically destroy their records detailing your arrest. Once this is done, your arrest record is no longer open to the public. As a result, you can legally deny or fail to mention that you were ever arrested!! It’s as if that arrest never happened.
Blake & Dorsten, P.A. can help you expunge your arrest record if you meet the following three conditions:
- You have never applied to have your record sealed or expunged before;
- You haven’t been “convicted” of any crimes or criminal ordinances; and
- You are not under any form of court supervision (probation, community control, etc.) If you meet all three conditions, the Lawyers at Blake & Dorsten, P.A. can help you expunge your arrest record (subject to the limitations listed below).
Sealing your record is a bit different. In a nutshell, when your record is sealed, it still exists. However, the record is “under seal” and filed away at the clerk’s office. Without a court order, your record cannot be revealed to the public. If you are able to get your record sealed, and it remains sealed for ten years, you may apply to have that record expunged.
It should be noted that some arrests and/or charges cannot be sealed or expunged unless: 1) the State Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute the charge and filed a No Information; 2) the State Attorney’s Office dropped the charge by filing a Nolle Prosequi; or 3) you were acquitted of the charges and/or found not guilty by a jury of your peers. Click here for a list of offenses that are not eligible for sealing or expungement unless you meet one of the three above-criteria.
The Florida laws on sealing and expunging criminal records are pretty confusing. An experienced criminal attorney can help you navigate through these complexities. Remember, your next job or loan application can depend on whether or not your arrest record is public.
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