How Difficult Is It to Get My Criminal Record Removed in Florida?
Having a criminal record for an arrest, a conviction, or both will pose many obstacles in your personal and professional life. Any time a background check is conducted, your criminal record—including any misdemeanor or felony convictions, pending cases, or incarcerations—will be revealed. Fortunately, depending on the nature of your crimes, you might not have to endure the constraints of your criminal record for the rest of your life.
There are certain processes you can go through in Florida to have your record removed. However, you must first be eligible; there are particular offenses that cannot be removed in the State of Florida. To determine if you qualify, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney with The Umansky Law Firm who can help you understand your criminal record, any challenges you may face, and your course of action moving forward. In addition, a review of the following information can provide you with insight on why you might want to have your criminal record removed, your options for doing so, and what you should expect from the process.
What Obstacles are Posed by Having a Criminal Record?
Nearly 77 million people—about 1 in 3 adults—hold a criminal record in the United States. Besides all state and federal law enforcement agencies that have unlimited access to your information, essentially anyone can go to the court clerk’s office and request to search your files for any criminal records or history. This will pose significant barriers that you might not be fully aware of.
The most obvious obstacle a criminal record poses is toward employment. Around 96 percent of employers perform some type of background screening before even considering a candidate for a job, even when all other requirements are met for the role. Unfortunately, even if you are arrested with a minor infraction but not convicted (meaning, in the eyes of the law, you were not guilty of a crime), you can still face challenges when it comes to finding employment. Other difficulties you may face include:
- Access to education: Over 60% of colleges consider criminal records before admitting students, limiting opportunities for further education and careers. A record may still prevent even admitted students from qualifying for financial assistance.
- Access to housing: Approximately 80% of landlords check prospective tenants’ criminal histories, possibly preventing you from being able to rent.
- Access to civic engagement: You may face restrictions on being able to vote, volunteer, or participate in community activities, political activities, or national service.
- Access to public assistance: There may be limitations on your ability to get loans, food assistance, housing, or Medicaid.
Not only will a criminal record gravely affect you, but the reach of a criminal record can extend to your children or family. Pursuing removal of your criminal record can provide you with a better chance at getting your affairs in order and help you rebuild your life in a positive way.
Options for Removing a Criminal Record in Florida
In Florida, there are two ways you can remove your criminal record: expunging and sealing. When a case is expunged, it is erased and destroyed from your file and not available to the public. When your case is sealed, your criminal record is not destroyed, but it can only be accessed with a court order.
If you were not convicted of a crime, you may be eligible for sealing or expungement only if you meet the following requirements:
- You have not had a prior criminal record expunged or sealed, even if it was in another state
- You do not already have a petition in progress to have your criminal record expunged or sealed
On the other hand, if you were convicted of a crime or you pleaded guilty or nolo contendere, there is a lengthy list of crimes that are not able to be expunged or sealed in Florida. Having a felony conviction immediately disqualifies you from filing for an expungement or sealing of your criminal record.
A comprehensive list of exceptions, requirements, and exclusions concerning expunging or sealing your criminal records can be obtained from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and Florida Statute 943.0585. Otherwise, to give you a better understanding of these criminal procedures and corrections, partner with a competent attorney at The Umansky Law Firm.
Is the Expunging and Sealing Process Difficult in Florida?
The process of expunging or sealing a criminal record in Florida is far from easy. What makes it so difficult is the fact that it is an extensive process that can take up to five months, which can present challenges if you have a set time limit to apply for a job or lease. Some factors that dictate the length of time it will take to successfully remove your record include:
- Whether or not you’re seeking expungement or sealing
- How quick the state attorney reviews and signs off on the disposition (if you’re pursuing expungement)
- Which county your case falls under
- How long it takes the FDLE to grant a certificate of eligibility
- The judge’s procedure during the final hearing
Generally, if you were not convicted of a crime and you meet all other criteria, you will have an easier time than if you were convicted of a crime. While this process is usually drawn out and uncertain, a knowledgeable attorney can attempt to make this demanding process as smooth and simple as possible. You don’t have to try to figure this all out on your own. Instead, let The Umansky Law Firm steer you in the right direction.
Remove Your Criminal Record with an Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney
Everyone makes mistakes. Unfortunately, even the smallest mistakes can have a lasting impact, especially in the form of a criminal record. Thankfully, several less serious criminal convictions can be expunged in Florida. To successfully remove your criminal record, you’ll have to undergo a lengthy and oftentimes confusing process. With the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney at The Umansky Law Firm, you’ll be one step closer to getting your second chance at life.
At The Umansky Law Firm, our Orlando expungement attorneys are well-versed in petitions to seal and expunge criminal records. We are dedicated to helping our clients get the fresh start they need and are committed to using our combined legal experience of over 100 years to make that happen.
Unsure if you’re eligible for expungement or record sealing? Need help drafting and filing the petition? Whatever the case may be, we are ready to help guide you through the entire process. Call our office or complete our contact form for a free consultation.