SB 118 and new section 943.0586, Florida Statutes

Your records are not going to disappear
because of this new law.

On July 1, 2018, a new section to the Florida Statutes will be born. It is s. 943.0586, F.S. It is nicely placed between the Florida expungement statute (s. 943.0585) and the sealing statute (s. 943.059). Recently, I have been getting a lot of questions regarding this new law. So rather than have to try and explain it multiple times, I decided to write this brief synopsis of my take on what it will do.

Let’s do this by breaking down the text of the statute, sentence by sentence:

943.0586 Administrative sealing of criminal history records.

The Criminal Justice Information Program shall administratively seal the criminal history records pertaining to an arrest or incident of alleged criminal activity of an adult or a minor charged with a felony, misdemeanor, or violation of a comparable rule or ordinance by a state, county, municipal, or other law enforcement agency upon notification by the clerk of court, pursuant to s. 943.052 (2), that all the charges related to the arrest or incident of alleged criminal activity were declined to be filed by the state attorney or statewide prosecutor, were dismissed or nolle prosequi before trial, or resulted in a judgement of acquittal or verdict of not guilty at trial and that all appeals by the prosecution have been exhausted or the time to file an appeal has expired.
Can you believe this – it’s one sentence long. I’m going to make sense of it below:

The Criminal Justice Information Program shall administratively seal the criminal history records pertaining to . . . [an] incident of alleged criminal activity [by anyone] charged with a [crime], . . . upon notification by the clerk of court . . . that all the charges [were dropped or the defendant was otherwise not found guilty].
Much better. First, the Criminal Justice Information Program is a program within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (see s. 943.05, Fla. Stat.). It’s task is to transmit criminal justice information between criminal justice agencies. So, in effect, this statute will only address that one program. It will not make the record a non-public record, the Clerks will still maintain their records as public records and continue to sell those records to private companies. This statute will have the same effect as having a traffic ticket dropped, nothing more.

This bill, when this statute becomes law, will have little effect on anyone’s background. It may help when someone is pulled over – the police officer will only see those arrests that resulted in a finding of guilty – and a guess that is a good thing. It will not replace sections 943.0585 (expungement) and 943.059 (sealings) as they are today.

But don’t overlook the other part of the bill. The part that addresses the removal of those mugshots that are posted online by those companies that want you to pay big bucks for them to take them down. That will, hopefully, prove valuable in the future.

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