It is accepted that the Florida Law of sealing or expunging a criminal record requires that the person seeking such relief has never been convicted of committing a crime. In legal terms this means you can never have been adjudicated guilty or adjudicated delinquent of a criminal act. This can be confusing because in Florida you can be “found” guilty but not convicted (see, what does convicted mean in Florida). Here we are only addressing “convictions” (adjudicated guilty as an adult or adjudicated delinquent as a child) and the adjudication exception to this blanket rule of no prior convictions. The rule is consistent regarding convictions as an adult. However, there are some adjudication exceptions for some “convictions” (adjudications of delinquency) as a juvenile.
When Being Adjudicated (Delinquent) is Not a Bar
The terminology for a conviction as a juvenile is “adjudicated delinquent” or “adjudication of delinquency.” In sections 943.0585(2)(d) (pertaining to expungements) and 943.059(2)(c) (pertaining to sealings), Florida Statutes, there is an exception for juvenile convictions being a bar to qualifying for a record expungement or sealing. Specifically, each section states that the person seeking such relief has “never been adjudicated guilty (as an adult) or been adjudicated delinquent (as a juvenile) for committing any felony or a misdemeanor specified in s. 943.051(3)(b).”
A Misdemeanor Specified in Section 943.051(3)(b)
As written, sections 943.0585(2)(d) and 943.059(2)(c), Florida Statutes, would allow a person with an adjudication of delinquency for a misdemeanor, not found in s. 943.051(3)(b), Fla. Stat., to still qualify to have a criminal arrest record sealed or expunged. The list of misdemeanor offenses found in this section are:
- Assault, as defined in s. 784.011.
- Battery, as defined in s. 784.03.
- Carrying a concealed weapon, as defined in s. 790.01(1).
- Unlawful use of destructive devices or bombs, as defined in s. 790.1615(1).
- Neglect of a child, as defined in s. 827.03(1)(e).
- Assault or battery on a law enforcement officer, a firefighter, or other specified officers, as defined in s. 784.07(2)(a) and (b).
- Open carrying of a weapon, as defined in s. 790.053.
- Exposure of sexual organs, as defined in s. 800.03.
- Unlawful possession of a firearm, as defined in s. 790.22(5).
- Petit theft, as defined in s. 812.014(3).
- Cruelty to animals, as defined in s. 828.12(1).
- Arson, as defined in s. 806.031(1).
- Unlawful possession or discharge of a weapon or firearm at a school-sponsored event or on school property, as provided in s. 790.115.
Any other misdemeanor offense would fall under the adjudication exception.
Non-Specified Misdemeanors Adjudication Exception
Offenses often charged against juveniles, that are not on this list, include criminal mischief, graffiti, and trespass, just to name a few. Typically, the Juvenile Justice System does not adjudicate children for these offenses to begin with, so applying this section would be rare. However, for the practitioner and the person seeking relief, this adjudication exception exists.
Although the adjudication of delinquency may not be a bar to qualifying, the person seeking relief still cannot seal or expunge any arrest that resulted in the adjudication of delinquency. It is simply not a bar for qualifying to seal or expunge a different arrest.
Sealing Record With Adjudication of Delinquency: Possible Scenario
A possible scenario could be as follows:
An adult wants to seal a petit theft charge he received at age 23. He had the adjudication withheld. His prior history includes an adjudication of delinquency for criminal mischief (misdemeanor) when he was 13 years of age. He could apply to FDLE and should obtain a Certificate of Eligibility to seal the petit theft arrest.
This would be rare, as mentioned above, since most juvenile courts would not have adjudicated a 13 year old of misdemeanor criminal mischief without a prolonged history. However, the possibility of this adjudication exception should be investigated in order to assist a person who wants to seal or expunge a criminal arrest record.
Please note the date this article was published. The information listed above is subject to change as changes are made to the laws. The information written above is meant only to be for Informational Purposes Only and is not legal advice.
If any corrections or errors are found please notify me as soon as possible.
Eric Dirga has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1995. His office is Eric J. Dirga, PA, located online in Orlando, FL. He provides representation for sealing and expunging criminal records throughout the state of Florida.