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Expunging Your Criminal Record In Florida

by | Sep 6, 2022 | Criminal Law

Pasco Courthouse
Pasco Courthouse

In some circumstances Floridians may have all legal records of their crime wiped from the official record. The expungement process is not widely known in the state of Florida, but it is available to those who have past crimes they would like to have removed from their record. Here’s what you need to know about expungement in Florida.

Basics

Expungement is the removal from public view the details of a criminal conviction. Essentially, if a court agrees to expunge the record of a crime, as far as non-government entities go, it’s as though the crime had never happened.

Why Expunge?

Individuals and organizations are checking the backgrounds of people they deal with more and more as the years go by. Unfortunately, that means old crimes are more and more likely to hamper the present aspirations of an ex-convict. Not only that, but as nearly every major criminal record database is accessible quickly and easily to background investigators, the risk that such a crime surfaces increases dramatically.

Having a criminal record can make life difficult. Employers, banks, financial institutions, and volunteer organizations nearly all have requirements that limit or exclude those with a criminal record. A criminal record can also make it difficult to obtain housing, as criminal background checks have become nearly universal among Florida’s landlords.

Criteria

Florida law allows for expungement of a criminal record if the individual applying for expungement can show

  • They have never been granted an expungement before,
  • they currently have no outstanding warrants or criminal charges,
  • the probationary period after conviction is over,
  • all community service has been served and all fines have been paid,
  • they have never been found guilty of a criminal offense, and
  • they pled no contest or not guilty to all offenses.

An expungement can only be granted once in an individual’s life, whether it be done as a juvenile or as an adult.

Not Available For Certain Crimes

Though an expungement covers a person’s entire life to date, it does not cover all crimes. Several crimes may not be expunged or sealed in Florida, including

  • Aggravated battery,
  • child abuse,
  • kidnapping,
  • manslaughter,
  • murder,
  • rape, or
  • sexual assault.

Eligibility

In order to be eligible to request expungement, the individual must first obtain a certificate of eligibility for expungement. The document, which costs $75 to file, is valid for twelve months from the date it was issued. The certificate shows the court that the individual has met all of the criteria above.

Entire Criminal Record

In order to ensure that every crime against an individual is properly expunged by the court, the best practice is to obtain a copy of the petitioner’s criminal record. Obtainable by using the Freedom of Information Act, it not only assures the petitioner’s entire record is expunged, it also reduces the risk of false information creeping into the filing, which could potentially be prosecuted as another crime.

Limitations

An expungement will wipe away crimes from public records, but that doesn’t mean every record of those crimes will be erased. Reporting by the press, publication by non-government sites, and other non-judicial organizations are under no obligation to expunge their records even after a court rules to expunge the state’s criminal records.

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