We have answered the most commonly asked questions regarding the expungement process in Florida as well as our Florida Expungement service. Simply click on one of the questions to reveal the answer. If your question is related to eligibility requirements please take the free online eligibility test.
Simply click on a question to see its answer:
Yes. Due to a change in the law that went into effect on July 1, 2013, a prior sealing or expungement from a jurisdiction outside the state will no longer bar you from seeking an expungement in Florida. (F.S. 943.0585(1)(b)(3) and F.S. 943.059(1)(b)(3))
No, Florida expungement law only allows a person to seal or expunge one case. (F.S. 943.0585). If you have had a case sealed for ten years, you can expunge that same case but you cannot seal or expunge multiple cases. (F.S. 943.0585). However, if you have previously had a juvenile case expunged under FL statute 943.0582 then that previous expungement does not count and you prevent you from petitioning for expungement or sealing. (F.S. 943.0582).
Yes, as long as they relate to the same criminal episode and you were not convicted of any of the charges. (F.S. 943.0585 and F.S. 943.059)
If you are eligible for a sealing at this time, you cannot have the case expunged unless the case is sealed for ten years first. (F.S. 943.059). However, the relief that the two services offer, in terms of protection from the public viewing the record, is almost identical.
When you enter a plea, the judge can either adjudicate you guilty (if an adult), adjudicate you delinquent (if juvenile), or withhold adjudication. (F.S. 948.01; Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.670). Only charges that were either dropped or had adjudication withheld can be expunged or sealed. (F.S. 943.0585(1)(b)(2)).
In Florida, a defendant can be found guilty of an offense but not be convicted. When a judge withholds adjudication of guilt the defendant is not “convicted” although he or she is still found guilty of the offense. (State v. McFadden, 772 So. 2d 1209). Being “found guilty” and being “adjudicated guilty" or "adjudicated delinquent” are two separate things. (F.S. 943.045(1)).
Offenses that have adjudication withheld may be eligible for sealing. (F.S. 943.059). Offenses that were dropped or dismissed or nolle prosequi (nolle prossed) can be expunged. (F.S. 943.0585(2)(a)(2)). An offense that you have been convicted of (adjudicated guilty) cannot be sealed or expunged. (F.S. 943.0585(1)(b)(2); F.S. 943.059).
If it is denied, it is usually because the criminal history reflects: (1) the person has been convicted or adjudicated guilty of any felony or misdemeanor, (2) a prior sealing or expungement, (3) a pending petition to seal or expunge, (4) that some or all of the charges related to the arrest or case were not dismissed prior to trial, adjudication, or the withholding of adjudication, or (5) the judge can also deny a case due to the nature of the offense.
If you are convicted of an offense in a different case than the one you are trying to seal or expunge then you are not eligible to expunge or seal the offense that was dismissed or you received withholding of adjudication for. Also, even if that other case was a violation under the vehicle code, if it is a misdemeanor conviction then you are not able to expunge or seal the case that was dismissed or you received withholding of adjudication for. (F.S. 943.045(8)).
Typically, no because our attorneys attend for you. However, certain courts request the presence of the defendants. If the court requests your presence and you are unable to attend, then we will request for your presence to be excused.
Typically, most Florida criminal record expungement and sealing cases do not require a hearing. However, a few counties specific counties tend to hold hearings. Most of the time, if a hearing is held, the reason is because the case involves a serious offense or if the case is extremely recent.
Typically, the process takes six to nine months on average (Palm Beach, Broward, and Hillsborough counties are taking as much as twelve months or more) to seal or expunge a criminal record in Florida.
We base that estimate on how long the average case takes in Florida. Some cases, however, can take less or more time depending on the facts of the case, whether the DA is agreeing or objecting, the age of the case, etc. We work on your case as fast as we can and assist the court and DA in anything they need to get your case heard. Record sealings typically take less time because they do not require the State's Attorney to approve the request.
Additionally, if you have another case, we may have to obtain documents from the other case to demonstrate that you were not convicted. Adding another case may add around a month to the process in order to obtain the additional documentation from the other case. If time is a concern for you, then you can supply the case documents if you have them to our office so that we do not have to wait for the court to supply them.
The various state agencies and courts work on a first-come, first-served basis. We will work as quickly and efficiently as we can to get your case filed, but the sooner you get the process started, the sooner your case will be resolved. Once you sign up, we will happily write a letter to your employer or potential employer to let them know we are in the process of having your case sealed or expunged.
You will receive a court order sealing or expunging your records. Public criminal record databases and the FDLE will be updated to reflect your records were sealed or expunged. (F.S. 943.0585(3) and F.S. 943.059(3))
If the case is denied, we evaluate the reason for the denial and determine the best way to proceed. If we believe that an appeal of the decision will be beneficial then we will determine if that is what should occur next.
Please view the pricing section for details regarding the money-back guarantee and what we are able to offer for this specific service.
Under Florida law, an expunged or sealed criminal record is confidential and not subject to disclosure by any State or Federal agency that possesses the record. A criminal justice agency that possesses your criminal record is not allowed to say that you had a criminal record or that your record was sealed or expunged. Also, information regarding the criminal offense that was sealed or expunged is removed from the Criminal Justice Information System so that the information does not come up on any background checks. The only instance in which the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) may reveal the existence of the record, but not the details of the record, is to the following parties if an individual is applying to them for employment or a professional license:
1. A criminal justice agency
2. The Department of Juvenile Justices, Department of Children and Family Services, Agency for Health Care Administration, Agency for Persons with Disabilities
3. A contractor or licensee dealing with children, the developmentally disabled, the aged, or elderly
4. The Department of Education, district school board, university laboratory school, charter school, private or parochial school, or local governmental entity that licenses child care facilities
5. The Florida Bar
The existence of an expunged or sealed record could also be disclosed if:
- you are a defendant in a criminal prosecution
- you are seeking authorization from a FL seaport for employment within or access to one or more of such seaports
(F.S. 943.0585(4) and F.S. 943.059(4))
The main difference is public accessibility. Sealing does not require certain agencies to actually “destroy” their records whereas a court order expunging records does. Once sealed, the public will not have access to the person’s criminal record through criminal justice agencies (except for government officials). Both sealing and expunging a record removes the information from public criminal justice agency records. Both require that the information be made confidential. Expungement goes one step further and physically destroys the records of arrest. Once expunged, the only way for the public to access an expunged record would be through a court order. (F.S. 943.0585( 4) and F.S. 943.059(4)).
Yes. If you are ever prosecuted for a crime in the future, upon being asked you are legally required to disclose the arrest. (F.S. 943.0585(4) and F.S. 943.059(4))
Yes, under certain limited circumstances. These include (but are limited to) if you are (1) ever applying for employment with a criminal justice agency in Florida, (2) a defendant in a future criminal case, (3) in any future petitions for sealing or expungement, (4) applying for admission to the Florida Bar (to become a lawyer), (5) applying for employment or a license with the Department of Children and Family Services, the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, or the Department of Juvenile Justice, or for any other position having direct contact with children, the developmentally disabled, or the elderly, (6) employment or licensing with an educational institution or school board, or (7) attempting to purchase a firearm. (F.S. 943.0585(4) and F.S. 943.059(4))
No. Both procedures remove all information regarding the sealed or expunged criminal justice agency's record from the public view. A Florida court order is necessary before a court record can be unsealed after a sealing or expungement has taken place. (F.S. 943.0585(4) and F.S. 943.059(4))
Even though the sealed or expunged record in Florida is unavailable to the public (meaning it will not show up on any background checks) the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) may reveal the existence of a sealed or expunged record, but not the details of the record, to the following parties if an individual is applying to them for employment or a professional license: 1. A law enforcement agency 2. The Department of Juvenile Justices 3. A contractor or licensee dealing with children 4. The Department of Education 5. Any public school 6. Any private school 7. The Florida Bar
(F.S. 943.0585(4) and F.S. 943.059(4))
However, commercial background check companies may take up to one year to update their records to reflect the expungement. We can expedite the updating of commercial background checks companies and reduce the time it takes from about one year to less than 14 days. See our [Expedited Record Clearance Update] (http://www.recordgone.com/expedited-record-clearance-update.htm) for information on this important step.
No. Persons who have been convicted of a felony (which causes a loss of civil rights) are not eligible for a seal or expungement of their criminal history, regardless of restoring civil rights. (R.J.L. v. State, 887 So. 2d 1268 (Fla. 2004)).
If you are eligible for a sealing or expungement, then your voting rights have not been taken away and you can currently vote. (F.S. 944.292).
Since each case is unique, getting a case-by-case analysis tailored to your specific facts is imperative. To find out if your criminal case will impact your immigration case and whether a sealing or expungement could help you, contacting a qualified immigration attorney is the best thing you can do. Our in-house immigration attorney is available to answer questions at 714-617-8395.
Generally, if you are eligible for record sealing, then your gun rights have not taken away. However, under Florida Statute 790.065(2)(a)(3), an individual who has had adjudication of guilt withheld on any felony or misdemeanor crime of domestic violence is not eligible for the purchase of a firearm unless 3 years have elapsed since probation or any other conditions set by the court have been fulfilled or expunction has occurred.
In Florida, you may serve on a jury if you: 1) are a United States citizen, 2) are a legal resident of Florida, 3) are a legal resident in the county in which the court resides, 4) are at least eighteen years of age, 5) and are an owner of a valid Florida driver’s license or Florida identification card. Title V, Chapter 40.01
In addition, you must not be under prosecution for any crime, and you may not be convicted in this state, territory, or country of bribery, forgery, perjury, larceny, or any other offense that, had the crime been committed in the state, would be a felony. If you have had your civil rights restored to you, then you may serve on a jury. Title V, Chapter 40.013
While certain agencies will be able to see the record, the FL expungement or sealing will increase your chances of being hired, because they will see that a judge has granted that relief.
Section 19 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (FDIA) allows banks and other financial institutions to bar prospective and current employees who have had “Breach of Trust” or "Dishonesty" convictions from jobs that they are otherwise qualified for even if they had the conviction expunged.
Whether a crime involves dishonesty or breach of trust will be determined from the statutory elements of the crime itself. All convictions for offenses concerning the illegal manufacture, sale, distribution of or trafficking in controlled substances are included. Other offenses can include but is not limited to the following: petty theft, grand theft, insufficient checks, burglary, possession of drugs for distribution or sales, embezzlement, fraud, fraud to obtain aid or benefits and money laundering.
If you believe you have a “breach of trust” or "dishonesty" conviction and were denied a position or were terminated from a financial institution because of that offense, there still is another way to obtain that job: with a waiver from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). It is important to speak with an attorney about your specific circumstances to see if you would qualify for such a waiver from the FDIC.
No. After your Florida case is sealed or expunged, the public cannot view the case. (F.S. 943.0585(4) and F.S. 943.059(4))
The court updates their records within 48 hours and the agencies have up to 60 days to update their records. However, the agencies typically update their records before the 60 days expire.
Once the court grants the case, the clerk of the court sends certified copies of the order to the prosecuting attorney, arresting agency, and any agency to which the court disseminated the criminal history information. The arresting agency then sends the order to any other agency to which the arresting agency disseminated the criminal history information. Additionally, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement forwards the order to seal or expunge to the FBI. (F.S. 943.0585(3) and F.S. 943.059(3))
Expunging and/or sealing does not influence your driving record; however, that record, unlike your criminal history, only lasts for a certain period of time and the record will disappear after that period of time. (F.S. 322.20; Dep't of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles v. Rigau, 901 So. 2d 339 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist. 2005)).