Tuesday, October 1, 2013

5 FAQ About Sealing Criminal Records in Florida

How Can I Seal My Criminal Record

Were you denied a job because of a criminal record? Have you had trouble with a loved one because they found public information about an old arrest? Have you had a minor criminal misunderstanding have a negative impact on your life? You are not alone, and for those who qualify, the solution may be to seal or expunge your criminal record.

Are you concerned that any of the following might find your criminal record:
  • Employer
  • Landlord
  • Friends
  • Family members
Photo Credit Flickr.com
If you have ever been arrested and fingerprinted, regardless of the eventual disposition of your case, even if the charges were dismissed prior to trial, your arrest records are public information and anyone with a computer can find them. Many employers and landlords do criminal background checks as a matter of course. A business partner, potential date, or even an individual in a current relationship with you may uncover this information with little difficulty.

You may be eligible to have this information removed from public record by sealing or expunging your criminal record. Sealing your record makes it impossible for the public to gain access to any public record information about a crime you were involved in. Even better, for those who qualify for expunction the Court will actually order that the public records relating to your arrest be destroyed. For the latter, you must obtain certification from the prosecutor's office in the county in which you were arrested.

Contact the Law Offices of Eric A Kay if you are looking to have your criminal records sealed or expunged.

Miami:
123 S.E. 3rd Ave #252
Miami, FL 33131
Phone: (954) 330-8994
Ft. Lauderdale:
12 SE 7th St. Suite 707
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Phone: (954) 764-7373
 
Listed below are a few answers to the most frequently asked questions about sealing and expunging criminal records.  These answers and more can be found on The Florida Department Of Law Enforcement  web site.  Click here for more questions and answers.

1.  Why do I have a criminal history record when the charges against me were dropped/dismissed?

The Florida Legislature has determined that Florida criminal history records are public unless the record is sealed or expunged. See Section 943.053(3), Florida Statutes, which provides for public access to criminal history records. The term "criminal history information" is defined, tracking the federal definition, at Section 943.045(4), Florida Statutes. A criminal history record is created when a person is arrested and fingerprinted, and includes the disposition of that arrest, whether it is a conviction, acquittal, dismissal of charges before trial, or other disposition.

2. What is the difference between having a criminal history record sealed vs. expunged?

When a criminal history record is sealed, the public will not have access to it. Certain governmental or related entities, primarily those listed in s. 943.059(4)(a), Florida Statutes, have access to sealed record information in its entirety.
When a record has been expunged, those entities which would have access to a sealed record will be informed that the subject of the record has had a record expunged, but would not have access to the record itself without a court order. All they would receive is a caveat statement indicating that "Criminal Information has been Expunged from this Record".

3.  What is the difference between having a criminal history record sealed vs. expunged?

When a criminal history record is sealed, the public will not have access to it. Certain governmental or related entities, primarily those listed in s. 943.059(4)(a), Florida Statutes, have access to sealed record information in its entirety.
When a record has been expunged, those entities which would have access to a sealed record will be informed that the subject of the record has had a record expunged, but would not have access to the record itself without a court order. All they would receive is a caveat statement indicating that "Criminal Information has been Expunged from this Record".

4.  What charges may be expunged?

The same eligibility requirements which apply to sealing also apply to expunction, with certain additional requirements. Any charge, which resulted in a withholding of adjudication or in an acquittal (not guilty verdict) after trial, may not be expunged unless and until it has first been sealed for at least 10 years. See s. 943.0585(2)(h), Florida Statutes. A charge which was dismissed before trial (e.g., no information, nolle prosequi, no bill, etc.) may be expunged immediately provided all charges related to the arrest were so disposed of, and the record is otherwise eligible.

5.  If I receive a full pardon can I have my criminal history record sealed or expunged?

Unless the pardon indicates on its face that it entitles the record subject to seal or expunge his or her criminal history record, the granting of a full pardon does not remove any condition of ineligibility for sealing or expunging a criminal history record imposed by the disposition of the pardoned offense. See R.J.L. v. State, 887 So.2d 1268 (Fla. 2004).


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