The Florida Statutes & Procedures That Entitle Expungement


Orozco v. State
District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fourth District
February 15, 2006

Holding: A petitioner who meets the requirements of Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure 3.692 and F.S.A. § 943.0585 will presumptively be entitled to criminal record expungement.

Why This Case is Important: In Florida, expungement of non-judicial criminal records is accomplished pursuant to F.S.A. § 943.0585. Expungement of judicial records is accomplished pursuant to Rule 3.692 of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure. Each authority establishes the requirements to obtain criminal record expungement.

Once the requirements of the statute and rule are met, the petitioner is presumptively entitled to criminal record expungement. This presumption of expungement may only be overcome in the court’s discretion where there is a good reason for denying expungement. Courts must look to all the facts and circumstances of the petitioner’s case in determining whether expungement should be denied. Generally, the nature of an offense is not sufficient to deny expungement.

Because a trial court is required to take into account all the facts and circumstances of a petitioner’s case, it must hold a hearing to consider the evidence of the petitioner’s case. A court will be found to be in error if it arbitrarily denies a petitioner’s expungement request if the petitioner is presumptively entitled to expungement relief.

Facts of This Case: Petitioner in this case was initially charged with grand theft. She was allowed to plead guilty to petit theft. The agreement allowed the petitioner to receive a withhold of adjudication, twelve months probation and restitution. The petitioner subsequently filed to expunge her judicial and non-judicial criminal records pursuant to F.S.A. § 943.0585 and Rule 3.692 of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure. The trial court denied her petition.

The court of appeals reversed the trial court’s decision. The court of appeals determined that the petitioner met all the requirements of Section 942.0585 and Rule 3.692. The court of appeals held that once a petitioner meets the requirements for expungement, she is presumptively entitled to expungement. The court of appeals stated the only way to overcome the presumption of entitlement is if the court has good reason to deny expungement based on the facts and circumstances of the petitioner’s case. As such, the court of appeals held that a hearing must be granted to determine whether expungement should be denied.

The court of appeals reversed the trial court’s decision, and remanded the proceedings back to the trial court to reconsider the petitioner’s expungement request.

Key Language: Summary denial of appellant’s petition was error. Having complied with all requirements, she was presumptively entitled to an order sealing her records absent a finding by the trial judge that there was a good reason for denial based on the facts and circumstances of the individual case.

Expert Advise: “This case establishes the authority courts have in determining whether expungement should be granted. Courts must follow section 043.0585 and rule 3.692 in determining whether expungement should be granted. As this case explains, a court may not arbitrarily deny expungement relief if a petitioner meets the statutory requirements.” -Attorney Mathew Higbee.

To read about more cases that help to define record clearing relief laws click here.

Find more legal articles in our articles database.