Florida law allows for expungement of criminal records that do not include a conviction, and permits the sealing or expungement of records where a conviction was not entered, or where adjudication was withheld. To be eligible for sealing or expungement, the defendant must not have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor and not previously received an expungement or sealing. Some criminal records are ineligible for expungement or sealing with a disposition of Adjudication Withheld (see above statutes). A Certificate of Eligibility from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is required prior to petitioning the court an order to seal or expunge a record. A successful expungement or sealing will, with a few narrow exceptions, prevent the record from being disclosed.
§ 943.059. Court-ordered sealing of criminal history records. — [Effective October 1, 2019].
(1) Eligibility. — A person is eligible to petition a court to seal a criminal history record when:
(a) The criminal history record is not ineligible for court-ordered sealing under s. 943.0584.
(b) The person has never, before the date the application for a certificate of eligibility is filed, been adjudicated guilty in this state of a criminal offense, or been adjudicated delinquent in this state for committing any felony or any of the following misdemeanor offenses, unless the record of such adjudication of delinquency has been expunged pursuant to s. 943.0515:
Assault, as defined in s. 784.011;
Battery, as defined in s. 784.03;
Assault on a law enforcement officer, a firefighter, or other specified officers, as defined in s. 784.07(2)(a);
Carrying a concealed weapon, as defined in s. 790.01(1);
Open carrying of a weapon, as defined in s. 790.053;
Unlawful possession or discharge of a weapon or firearm at a school-sponsored event or on school property, as defined in s. 790.115;
Unlawful use of destructive devices or bombs, as defined in s. 790.1615(1);
Unlawful possession of a firearm by a minor, as defined in s. 790.22(5);
Exposure of sexual organs, as defined in s. 800.03;
Arson, as defined in s. 806.031(1);
Petit theft, as defined in s. 812.014(3);
Neglect of a child, as defined in s. 827.03(1)(e); or
Cruelty to animals, as defined in s. 828.12(10).
(c) The person has not been adjudicated guilty of, or adjudicated delinquent for committing, any of the acts stemming from the arrest or alleged criminal activity to which the petition to seal pertains.
(d) The person is no longer under court supervision applicable to the disposition of arrest or alleged criminal activity to which the petition to seal pertains.
(e) The person has never secured a prior sealing or expunction of a criminal history record under this section, s. 943.0585, former s. 893.14, former s. 901.33, or former s. 943.058.
(2) Certificate of eligibility. — Before petitioning the court to seal a criminal history record, a person seeking to seal a criminal history record must apply to the department for a certificate of eligibility for sealing. The department shall adopt rules relating to the application for and issuance of certificates of eligibility for sealing.
(a) The department shall issue a certificate of eligibility for sealing to a person who is the subject of a criminal history record if that person:
Satisfies the eligibility criteria in paragraphs (1)(a)-(e) and is not ineligible for court-ordered sealing under s. 943.0584.
Has submitted to the department a certified copy of the disposition of charge to which the petition pertains.
Remits a $75 processing fee to the department for placement in the Department of Law Enforcement Operating Trust Fund, unless the executive director waives such fee.
(b) A certificate of eligibility for sealing is valid for 12 months after the date stamped on the certificate when issued by the department. After that time, the petitioner must reapply to the department for a new certificate of eligibility. The status of the applicant and the law in effect at the time of the renewal application determine the petitioner’s eligibility.
(3) Petition. — Each petition to a court to seal a criminal history record is complete only when accompanied by:
(a) A valid certificate of eligibility issued by the department pursuant to this section.
(b) The petitioner’s sworn statement that the petitioner:
Satisfies the eligibility requirements for sealing in subsection (1).
Is eligible for sealing to the best of his or her knowledge and does not have any other petition to seal or expunge a criminal history record pending before any court. Any person who knowingly provides false information on such sworn statement to the court commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(4) Court authority. —
(a) The courts of this state have jurisdiction over their own procedures, including the maintenance, sealing, and correction of judicial records containing criminal history information to the extent that such procedures are not inconsistent with the conditions, responsibilities, and duties established by this section.
(b) Any court of competent jurisdiction may order a criminal justice agency to seal the criminal history record of a minor or an adult who complies with the requirements of this section. The court may not order a criminal justice agency to seal a criminal history record until the person seeking to seal a criminal history record has applied for and received a certificate of eligibility pursuant to subsection (2).
(c) The court may order the sealing of a criminal history record pertaining to one arrest or one incident of alleged criminal activity only, except the court may order the sealing of a criminal history record pertaining to more than one arrest if the additional arrests directly relate to the original arrest. If the court intends to order the sealing of records pertaining to such additional arrests, such intent must be specified in the order. A criminal justice agency may not seal any record pertaining to such additional arrests if the order to seal does not articulate the intention of the court to seal a record pertaining to more than one arrest. This section does not prevent the court from ordering the sealing of only a portion of a criminal history record pertaining to one arrest or one incident of alleged criminal activity.
(d) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, a criminal justice agency may comply with laws, court orders, and official requests of other jurisdictions relating to sealing, correction, or confidential handling of criminal history records or information derived therefrom.
(e) This section does not confer any right to the sealing of any criminal history record, and any request for sealing of a criminal history record may be denied at the sole discretion of the court.
(5) Processing of a petition or order. —
(a) In judicial proceedings under this section, a copy of the completed petition to seal shall be served upon the appropriate state attorney or the statewide prosecutor and upon the arresting agency; however, it is not necessary to make any agency other than the state a party. The appropriate state attorney or the statewide prosecutor and the arresting agency may respond to the court regarding the completed petition to seal.
(b) If relief is granted by the court, the clerk of the court shall certify copies of the order to the appropriate state attorney or the statewide prosecutor and the arresting agency. The arresting agency is responsible for forwarding the order to any other agency to which the arresting agency disseminated the criminal history record information to which the order pertains. The department shall forward the order to seal to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The clerk of the court shall certify a copy of the order to any other agency that the records of the court reflect has received the criminal history record from the court.
(c) The department or any other criminal justice agency is not required to act on an order to seal entered by a court when such order does not comply with the requirements of this section. Upon receipt of such an order, the department must notify the issuing court, the appropriate state attorney or statewide prosecutor, the petitioner or the petitioner’s attorney, and the arresting agency of the reason for noncompliance. The appropriate state attorney or statewide prosecutor shall take action within 60 days to correct the record and petition the court to void the order. No cause of action, including contempt of court, shall arise against any criminal justice agency for failure to comply with an order to seal when the petitioner for such order failed to obtain the certificate of eligibility as required by this section or such order does not otherwise comply with the requirements of this section.
(6) Effect of order. —
(a) A criminal history record of a minor or an adult which is ordered sealed by a court pursuant to this section is confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution and is available only to the following persons:
The subject of the record;
The subject’s attorney;
Criminal justice agencies for their respective criminal justice purposes, which include conducting a criminal history background check for approval of firearms purchases or transfers as authorized by state or federal law;
Judges in the state courts system for the purpose of assisting them in their case-related decisionmaking responsibilities, as set forth in s. 943.053(5); or
To those entities set forth in subparagraphs (b)1., 4., 5., 6., 8., 9., and 10. for their respective licensing access authorization and employment purposes.
(b) The subject of the criminal history record sealed under this section or under other provisions of law, including former s. 893.14, former s. 901.33, and former s. 943.058, may lawfully deny or fail to acknowledge the arrests covered by the sealed record, except when the subject of the record:
Is a candidate for employment with a criminal justice agency;
Is a defendant in a criminal prosecution;
Concurrently or subsequently petitions for relief under this section, s. 943.0583, or s. 943.0585;
Is a candidate for admission to The Florida Bar;
Is seeking to be employed or licensed by or to contract with the Department of Children and Families, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation within the Department of Education, the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Department of Health, the Department of Elderly Affairs, or the Department of Juvenile Justice or to be employed or used by such contractor or licensee in a sensitive position having direct contact with children, the disabled, or the elderly;
Is seeking to be employed or licensed by the Department of Education, a district school board, a university laboratory school, a charter school, a private or parochial school, or a local governmental entity that licenses child care facilities;
Is attempting to purchase a firearm from a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer and is subject to a criminal history check under state or federal law;
Is seeking to be licensed by the Division of Insurance Agent and Agency Services within the Department of Financial Services;
Is seeking to be appointed as a guardian pursuant to s. 744.3125; or
Is seeking to be licensed by the Bureau of License Issuance of the Division of Licensing within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to carry a concealed weapon or concealed firearm. This subparagraph applies only in the determination of an applicant’s eligibility under s. 790.06.
(c) Subject to the exceptions in paragraph (b), a person who has been granted a sealing under this section, former s. 893.14, former s. 901.33, or former s. 943.058 may not be held under any provision of law of this state to commit perjury or to be otherwise liable for giving a false statement by reason of such person’s failure to recite or acknowledge a sealed criminal history record.
(d) Information relating to the existence of a sealed criminal history record provided in accordance with paragraph (b) is confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution, except that the department shall disclose the sealed criminal history record to the entities set forth in subparagraphs (b)1., 4., 5., 6., 8., 9., and 10. for their respective licensing, access authorization, and employment purposes. An employee of an entity set forth in subparagraph (b)1., (b)4., (b)5., (b)6., (b)8., (b)9., or (b)10. may not disclose information relating to the existence of a sealed criminal history record of a person seeking employment, access authorization, or licensure with such entity or contractor, except to the person to whom the criminal history record relates or to persons having direct responsibility for employment, access authorization, or licensure decisions. A person who violates this paragraph commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
Eff. October 1, 2019