Sealing and Expunging Criminal Records in Florida
A criminal record can follow you around for the rest of your life. In today’s world where everything is a google search away, your criminal past is easily accessible to employers, neighbors, family and pretty much anyone looking for it. However, there is some good news. In Florida, certain criminal records are eligible to be sealed or expunged. When a record is sealed or expunged, those records are no longer accessible to the public. Additionally, you are legally allowed to answer NO to the “have you ever been convicted of a felony” question on MOST job applications. Note that if you are applying to certain law enforcement or government jobs, you will still be required to disclose your expunged or sealed records and those records will be accessible to the agency.
Florida Statutes § 943.0585 and § 943.059 set out the rules for expunging and sealing criminal records. These statutes provide requirements that must be met before a record can be expunged or sealed.
1. First, adjudication must have been withheld on the charge to be expunged or sealed. This means
that the court found you guilty without convicting you. If you were adjudicated guilty, this means
you were convicted and your charge is not eligible to be sealed or expunged.
2. Second, you must have never been adjudicated guilty of any PRIOR crime.
3. Third, you must not have had any prior record sealed or expunged. More than one record may be
expunged or sealed if the court, in its own discretion, finds the arrests directly related.
Although these are the three main requirements, there are additional rules and exceptions regarding sealing and expunging criminal records. Furthermore, there is an enumerated list of crimes that are never allowed to be sealed or expunged, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld and the other requirements are met. The list includes:
Illegal use of explosives
Child abuse or Aggravated Child Abuse
Abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult, or aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult
Lewd, lascivious, or indecent assault or act upon or in the presence of a child under the age of 16 years
Sexual activity with a child, who is 12 years of age or older but less than 18 years of age, by or at solicitation of a person in familial or custodial authority
Burglary of a dwelling
Stalking and Aggravated Stalking
An act of domestic violence
An act of terrorism
Manufacturing certain controlled substances
Sexual misconduct with a developmentally-disabled person
Sexual misconduct with a mental-health patient
Luring or enticing a child
Procuring a person under the age of 18 for prostitution
Lewd or lascivious offenses committed upon or in the presence of persons less than 16 years of age
Scheme to defraud or organized fraud
Lewd or lascivious offense upon or in presence of elderly person or disabled person
Sexual performance by a child
Offenses by public officers and employees
Showing or selling obscene literature to a minor
Selling or buying of minors
Trafficking in controlled substances
For additional information on sealing and expunging criminal records in Florida, check out the frequently asked questions on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s website. If you would like to speak to a qualified attorney to determine if your criminal record is eligible to be expunged or sealed, please call the Hebert Law Group at 727-573-2622 to schedule a free consultation.