Sealing Your Criminal Record
Once one’s State case is settled, one may seek expunction or sealing of one’s criminal history. There are only limited circumstances under which one can do so under Florida law and there are limited offenses for which one can seek an expunction or sealing of the criminal history records.
Expunging a Criminal History
In order to expunge a criminal history, one’s case must have been voluntarily dismissed or dropped by the prosecutor. In order to seal a criminal history, one must not have been adjudicated, and rather one must have received a court disposition of only a “withhold of adjudication.” If either of these two situations applies to an individual, then one should seek legal counsel to properly assist in the decision-making process and to ultimately make sure one meets expunction or sealing criteria. If one meets criteria, an application must be prepared and signed by the prosecutor’s office. Then the application, an affidavit attesting to no other prior offenses, and one’s fingerprints must be sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement requesting a Certificate of Eligibility for an expunction or sealing.
Eligibility for Expungement
If a Certificate of Eligibility is granted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, a petition must be filed before the Court, along with the Certificate of Eligibility, and a hearing must be held with notice to the prosecutor in order for the Court to determine whether an expunction or sealing should be granted. One must be cautious, however, because even if the Court grants an expunction or sealing, it is important to remember that the Court only has authority to order expunction or sealing of records within the government agencies associated with the Court such as the law enforcement agencies, the Office of the State Attorney, and the Clerk of Court. If information about the case has reached media outlets and/or is otherwise obtained through background check entities, the Court does not have the authority to order their records expunged or sealed.