If you have ever been arrested or received a “Notice to Appear” to court for a criminal offense, you have an arrest record. This is also called a “criminal record.” Florida law allows you to expunge your Florida arrest record.
This record begins with the arrest and it does not go away because the case was dropped. It originates from two sources; the Clerk of Court and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Both of these agencies sell these records to private entities. The Clerks of Court also have these records listed for free on their websites.
Expunge Your Florida Arrest Record As Soon As Possible
If you have an arrest record, it is a good idea to consider expunging your record as soon as possible. The sooner the record is expunged the sooner the government stops selling it. Additionally, if you are eligible to expunge your record today and you wait, the law may change and prohibit you from expunging it in the future.
Do You Qualify for the Expungement Process
“Do you qualify” is the first question you should ask yourself. Knowing if you qualify will save you a lot of time and effort if you start this process and find out later that you do not qualify.
What Do You Qualify For
Under Florida law, there are two types of expungements.
The first is called an “Expungement” and it applies only to charges that were eventually dropped. Any reason for the case being dropped is okay, so long as it was dropped. This applies to when the State Attorney does not file formal charges, drops the case after filing formal charges, court dismissals, and pretrial diversion drops.
The second type is called a “Sealing.” A sealing applies to charges that were not dropped. These are charges you either admitted to or were found guilty after a trial. In order to qualify for a sealing the court must “withhold the adjudication of guilt.” Additionally, the offense cannot be prohibited by statute.
See Qualifying For A Florida Expungement for more information.
See Prohibited Offenses for more information.
In either case, you cannot have ever been convicted of a criminal offense. This means “ever.” Nor can you have ever been adjudicated delinquent as a juvenile. If you’ve ever been adjudicated guilty or adjudicated delinquent – you do not qualify to have any arrest record sealed or expunged.
See What is a Florida Conviction for more information.
See, No Prior Adjudication Exception for Juvenile Cases for an exception to this rule.
Additionally, only one arrest can be sealed or expunged. Multiple arrests for the same bad conduct may be expungeable and you should consult with a lawyer if this is your situation.
What Is The Cost
The cost can vary depending on if you hire a lawyer or you do this yourself. You can save money by doing this yourself, however you should consider a lawyer if you need to get this done as soon as possible (without mistakes and backtracking).
See, How Much A Free Expungement Costs for more information on doing this yourself.
See, My Legal Fees to Expunge or Seal Your Arrest Record for more information on my fees.
How Long Will It Take
Currently, the process to expunge your Florida arrest record takes approximately 8 to 12 months. A sealing may take a month less to complete. The biggest delay right now is it takes FDLE 6 months to process the application.
Should You Do This Yourself (Without A Lawyer)
Despite what other lawyers may say, this is not rocket science nor is it brain surgery. The process to expunge your Florida arrest record is relatively straight forward. The one thing that you may run into and not know what to do is if the court requires a hearing. If you get to that point and the court does not grant your request but instead sets your petition to seal or expunge for a hearing, you may want to consult with a lawyer.
There are plenty of helpful websites to assist you with the expungement process and even a “How-To” Expungement Book. If you have the time and you are not concerned about getting it done as fast as possible then give it a try.
If you need to expunge your Florida arrest record as soon as possible, you may want to consider hiring a lawyer. If you are trying to expunge a felony or you have multiple arrests, you may want to consider hiring a lawyer.
See, Do You Need An Expungement Lawyer for more information.
See, Do-It-Yourself Expungement for more information.
See, Erase Your Record for more information on the do-it-yourself without a lawyer book.
Contact Eric J Dirga PA
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 legal representation for expungement and sealing of records throughout the state of Florida.