Even if you are ultimately not convicted of a crime, being arrested and charged with a criminal offense in Florida can have long-lasting and potentially life-changing effects on you. Records related to your arrest will often remain in the public record regardless of whether it led to criminal prosecution, viewable not only by law enforcement officers and court authorities but also by anyone who conducts a background check on you. That may include potential employers and landlords.
Fortunately, you have a right to seek expungement of these records exactly one time under Florida law—something a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney could help you with. No matter what type of records you need expunged or sealed, a Sanford expungement lawyer could help you take full advantage of your rights.
Technically, there are two options for getting records related to an arrest in Florida removed from publicly accessible records: sealing of records, and expungement. When someone has records sealed, members of the public cannot view those records without a court order. Certain law enforcement authorities can still see them when performing background checks and for other purposes. Conversely, expungement more or less completely erases the records in question, making them accessible only by government entities with a court order.
It should be emphasized, though, that neither expungement nor sealing of records in Florida is available for people who were charged with a criminal offense and subsequently convicted of that offense. Additionally, certain types of offenses are not eligible for expungement or sealing once any kind of plea or verdict is entered in response to a charge. Most notably, that is for offenses involving sex crimes, drug trafficking, most crimes of violence, and certain types of fraud.
However, if someone arrested on suspicion of committing a crime was never indicted for that crime, they had their case dismissed, or was subject to a nolle pros decision from a judge, then they may be eligible to have arrest records expunged or sealed. As a Sanford expungement attorney can explain, they must also have no other pending charges or convictions, have no history of other criminal convictions or adjudications of guilt, and have never sought or been granted expungement or record-sealing in the past.
Seeking expungement or sealing of criminal records is a multi-step process that is best explained by a lawyer during a confidential consultation. In brief, the process begins with the applicant requesting a Certificate of Eligibility from the state Department of Law Enforcement, and then filing a petition for relief in the county where the arrest took place. There may also be requirements to notify certain other parties about the request after it has been made. A qualified expungement lawyer in Sanford could help a person with that task.
Expungement or sealing of records will not be granted until the conclusion of a hearing where a court will determine whether expungement is warranted. In some cases, it may be necessary to demonstrate progress made since the original arrest before a judge will agree to seal or expunge records. That might include the completion of substance abuse treatment since an arrest for a drug-related offense.
While expungement of records does not completely erase records so that no one in any position can ever see them again, it accomplishes that same purpose for most other scenarios that could interfere with your normal life. With that in mind, pursuing expungement with help from The Umansky Law Firm is an important step in putting this episode behind you for good.
You can get help with this petition from a Sanford expungement lawyer. Call our team today to discuss your options.
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