Thanks to Florida’s uniquely broad rules allowing members of the public to access non-sensitive government records, having any kind of arrest record here can have serious consequences in your personal and professional life. That is true even if your charges did not end with a conviction. Fortunately, state law also sets out a couple options for residents to have these kinds of records hidden from public view or even permanently destroyed.
However, even someone who meets all the prerequisite criteria for this process can have a difficult time obtaining a positive case result without a seasoned defense attorney helping them along the way. If you want to explore your options for expunging or sealing your records related to past criminal accusations, contacting a Clermont expungement lawyer should be a top priority.
While both expunging and sealing criminal records have relatively similar requirements, petitioning procedures, and final outcomes, they are each unique processes with a slightly different purpose. A Clermont expungement attorney could explain in more detail how these processes work and offer specific guidance about which option might be best for a particular person.
Expungement—or “expunction,” as it is defined in Florida Statutes § 943.045(16)—entails the records in question being deleted entirely from public-facing records. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will still maintain limited and completely confidential records after this process is complete, but in terms of information the public can access, it will be as if the expunged records and the criminal proceedings never existed at all.
Sealing is a slightly less comprehensive process that ensures no one without proper legal authority can access the records in question. Unlike with expungement, though, the records are not erased completely, and various parties within the state criminal justice and court systems will still have access to them.
Generally, people in Florida can only petition for expungement of an arrest record if they have no prior criminal convictions, were never indicted, or had the arrest in question dismissed. They also can never have had any history of previous expungement petitions, nor any other pending expungement petitions. Petitioning for records to be sealed has all the same requirements as expungement, and also requires the petitioner to have completed any probation, community control, and/or court supervision required by the court. Notably, under Fla. Stat. § 943.0595, record-sealing occurs automatically for most cases in which:
In addition, there are several charges that are ineligible for expungement or sealing if there was any plea entered and/or verdict reached, including most sex crimes and various “dangerous crimes” outlined in Fla. Stat. § 907.401. “Forcible felonies” like murder, manslaughter, burglary, and arson are also ineligible to be expunged. This is true even if they are juvenile charges and the defendant completed a diversion program and any other court-assigned requirements. An expungement lawyer in Clermont could discuss what steps may be necessary to get a positive outcome from a specific petition.
Expungement and record-sealing are not available in every situation, and there are still a few limitations on what they can do to remove past criminal charges from government records. However, if you qualify to pursue either or both of these options, it is in your best interest to get it done as possible.
A capable Clermont expungement lawyer could provide custom-tailored support and guidance throughout your case. Call today to learn more about how we can help.
The Umansky Law Firm Criminal Defense & Injury Attorneys