Can My Florida Criminal Charge Be Sealed Or Expunged From Public Records, And How Is It Done?
Florida is a state which allows certain persons to have their criminal record either sealed or expunged, depending upon the nature of the charge and the outcome of the case. In Florida, certain types of criminal charges, such as violent crimes and sex offenses, may never be sealed or expunged. A sealing or expungement can also prevent personal and professional embarrassment, since the case history is available to anyone who has either internet access or the ability to contact the Manatee or Sarasota County Clerk of Court. For instance, both counties have public access websites, where a name search will reveal the complete history and disposition of the case. In addition, persons accessing the Manatee County website can actually access the police reports and court documents online. By having your record either sealed or expunged, public access to this information is eliminated.
Unfortunately, some people will not be able to get their records sealed or expunged. If the Court adjudicates you guilty of the charge, this will prohibit you from a record sealing or expungement, regardless of your lack of prior record. In addition, a person who has any previous criminal convictions, either in Florida or out of state, is disqualified from a record sealing or expungement. A person in Florida is only allowed one record sealing or expungement in a lifetime.
To have your record either sealed or expunged, the procedure begins with a formal application, which includes fingerprinting. This application must be submitted to the prosecutor’s office, which then signs off on the paperwork. After that, the application and supporting documentation must be sent to Tallahassee to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), which determines whether the person is actually eligible for the sealing or expungement. If all of these steps are successfully taken, and the person is determined to be eligible, then a “certificate of eligibility” is issued by FDLE. The person must then set a hearing before the appropriate Judge, who even then can deny the petition in his or her discretion.
As with any legal matter, it is always preferable to have an experienced law firm handle the record sealing procedure, to advise you of any potential problems, and to give you the greatest chance of succeeding. Since 1996, the Law Offices of Jeffrey A. Haynes has a lengthy track record of success in having its clients get their records either sealed or expunged. Call today at 941 954-5333 for more information.