Sealing Your Record For Good
If you could have your criminal offenses sealed or erased, would you? In Florida, individuals with a criminal history who meet certain qualifying factors can apply for criminal record sealing or an expungement, which removes a criminal offense.
Remember, even if your case was ultimately dismissed or you were acquitted, your record displays everything. From the day you were arrested to trial, this is reflected in public records. Therefore, even the stigma of an arrest can survive. The only way to truly have a clean record is through a sealing or expungement.
Sealing Criminal Records
A criminal record can affect all aspects of your life, from getting a job to renting an apartment. For those concerned about the impact a criminal charge can have on their lives, Florida offers two options:
- Record sealing — Normally, a criminal record may be accessible by employers, landlords and others in the public sector. Record sealing secures an individual’s criminal record from public view. Record sealing is not available for criminal convictions, only criminal charges. Furthermore, record sealing is only applicable if you received a “withhold of adjudication” in court. Domestic violence cases do not qualify. For those who receive a withhold of adjudication along with probation, you are eligible to start a record sealing the day you get off probation.
- Expungement — An expungement removes an offense from an individual’s criminal record. Domestic violence cases are only eligible for expungements. You can expunge a sealed record after 10 years if you get into no further trouble.
Even if you completed a first-offender and diversion program and the case dismissed charges against you, there is still a public record of your arrest. The disposition of your charge is not always apparent in a Public Clerk of Courts search. Fortunately, for those who complete a first-offender and diversion program, they are eligible to seal or expunge.
Not all crimes can be sealed or expunged. Certain offenses such as arson, DUI and rape cannot be removed. To find out if you are eligible for either option, contact my law firm.
The Importance Of Working With A Lawyer
You can only seal or expunge one offense from your criminal record. The application process can be complicated, requiring court involvement. Ultimately, a judge has to approve the decision to seal or expunge a record. Working with a Fort Lauderdale record sealing attorney in the criminal records expungement process can ensure that steps are properly taken. You may only get one chance to have your record cleared.
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