You have a record for an arrest from a few years back. It keeps popping up on your background checks and it is preventing you from getting the job you want or the apartment you like. You want it expunged.
You have heard of expunging the record but everywhere you check the attorney fees are too high. You want to resolve this yourself for free if possible?
Unfortunately, even if you do this yourself, there are some costs that, if everything goes smoothly, will run you upwards of $250.
Not So Free Record Expungement
If you qualify to have your record expunged there are several things you have to pay for, even if you do this yourself. These are:
- $?? to get your fingerprints taken from a law enforcement agency.
- $10 each for two notary stamps on the application and the affidavit.
- $?? to get certified copies of the disposition from the Clerk of Court.
- $75 FDLE fee when you submit the application.
Once you receive your Certificate of Eligibility you then have to petition the court. This is where it may get complicated. You need a step-by-step guide for this because you won’t get your questions answered for free by a lawyer or correctly by anyone else.
No worries. I wrote a book that will take you step by step through the process of expunging or sealing your record in Florida. For the $24, it is worth the price if you are seriously considering doing this yourself.
The Mandatory Court Fees
All courts will require either a filing fee (paid when the petition is filed) or court costs (after the petition has been granted). There is at least one county that has a filing fee and court costs.
Filing fees vary from county to county and usually are around $70. Court costs also vary and are also around $70. Even if you get your petition granted, nothing will happen until these fees are paid.
Other Required Expenses
There are also undefined expenses. This is not to discourage you from doing this on your own but you will need access to a computer, printer, scanner, copier, and a word processor.
On top of those items, you will need to take the time to:
- write your petition, affidavits, etc.
- learn how to eFile your petition and supporting documents to the court.
Along with the other costs (noted above) you may also have to prepare for a hearing. There is stress involved with appearing before the court and, if your petition is denied, an appeal can cost thousands of dollars.
If you have all the necessary equipment and you are a quick learner on eFiling, then your grand total (excluding your time) for your free Florida record expungement can be as low as $200 (+/-$50).
The problem most people run into when trying to do this on their own is when they have a question. The Clerk of Court isn’t suppose to give you legal advice (but they do, often with disastrous results). The State Attorney won’t – they are the party you are going against. FDLE can’t either. Only an attorney can give you legal advice and they won’t advise you without getting paid because it subjects them to liability – and liability costs money.
For More Information Emailed to You
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.