ERIC J DIRGA, PA

So You Want to Expunge Your Florida Arrest Record

expunge your florida arrest record

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.

These records are public records. The expungement process set forth under Florida statutes s. 943.0585 and s. 943.059, can remove these records from the public domain.


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.

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.

Sealings

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.

Additional Requirements

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.

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.

Expunging a Sealed Record

Expunging the Sealed Record: Florida Expungements

Expunging Sealed Record in Florida: Under Florida law, a criminal arrest record that has been sealed for 10-years can be expunged so long as the petitioner still qualifies. This is something to think about when you qualify and have your arrest record sealed today.

Expunging the Sealed Record

Florida law specifically states that an arrest record that has been sealed for 10-years can be expunged provided the petitioner (you) qualifies:

943.0585(1)(b)3. – Has never secured a prior sealing or expunction of a criminal history record under this section, s. 943.059, former s. 893.14, former s. 901.33, or former s. 943.058, unless expunction is sought of a criminal history record previously sealed for 10 years pursuant to paragraph (2)(h) and the record is otherwise eligible for expunction.

This may be something you want to do in the future and should be analyzed or discussed with your attorney that is petitioning the court to seal your arrest record.

Qualifying to Expunge Your Sealed Record

In order to qualify to have your sealed record expunged, ten years must have passed from the date of the order to seal and you must never have been convicted of a criminal offense. New offenses that have happened since your record was sealed do not automatically disqualify you unless they resulted in a conviction. However, they will be considered by the Court when it considers whether or not to grant your request.

Additionally, the offense that was sealed must have remained eligible for this relief. As time goes on, the laws may change. If the offense you had sealed 10-years ago is now prohibited by law from being expunged then it cannot be expunged. This is rare but can happen. (See, Mary Kirby Quandary)

Problems To Avoid

The biggest hurdle to overcome when trying to expunge your arrest record that has already been sealed for 10-years or more is gathering information. When you’re expunging sealed record, you will need to know the case number, arresting agency, date of arrest, etc. This information is typically no longer available from the Clerk of Court.

Lawyers are require to maintain records for 6-years, unless you are informed otherwise. Today, many attorneys keep records indefinitely because they scan their cases into a convenient format that is easy to maintain. You should contact the attorney that sealed your case today to see if they still have copies of these records if you are considering expunging sealed record.

Keep The Records of Your Sealed Case

If you have had your arrest record sealed, keep all the documented copies you have. You should have received a certified copy of the order. Some attorneys (me in particular) will also try to obtain certified copies of the charging document, arrest affidavit (police report), and disposition to provide to you once the sealing has been ordered. Copies of these records will have the information necessary to expunge your record in 10-years.

If you are currently in the process of having your record sealed, obtain certified copies of 1) the charging document, 2) the police report, and 3) the disposition of your case. There may be other documents you should have such as all violations of probation dispositions, but at a minimum have the above-noted three.

Expunging Sealed Record Checklist

If you are having your arrest record sealed and you think you may want to have it expunged in 10-years, keep this checklist in mind:

  • Keep all your case documents-
    • If your record is not yet sealed, get these records (certified) now from the Clerk of Court.
    • If your record is already sealed, track down your records – contact your attorney.
  • Do not get arrested in the future-
    • Avoid criminal behavior and those who behave that way.
    • If arrested, avoid conviction if possible.
  • Hope that the charges you had sealed are not prohibited by the legislature between the time they are sealed and the time you try to have them expunged.

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.

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.

Erase Your Record*

Seal or Expunge

The Do-It-Yourself Florida Record Expungement Book

I have been sealing and expunging Florida criminal records for over twenty years. I have always tried to provide a good service at a reasonable price. I know that what I do is not rocket science (seal or expunge). I also know that, for me, sealing or expunging a record has become very easy because of repetition. I have sealed or expunged so many records that the process has been burned into my memory.

The Do-It-Yourself Person; No Lawyer Required

One of the things that concerned me was all the confusing information on the web that led so many do-it-yourself people into trouble. A simple search reveals information from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement [FDLE], many Clerk of Court websites, and even some State Attorney websites that purport to provide information to help you seal or expunge your record.

Non-Lawyer Websites Are Helpful But Can Be Confusing

Some of these sites provide good information. For example, some Clerk of Court websites actually provide “approved” forms – saving people the headache of having to create them with a word processor. Some just provide links to FDLE’s website.

Misleading Limited Information

The concern is that by providing some information, a person trying to seal or expunge their own record may think that they can talk to someone from the Clerk’s Office and obtain more useful information and answers to their questions. This is a big problem and a big mistake. First, personnel working for the Clerk of Court cannot give legal advice. Only licensed attorneys can give legal advice. Despite this, people receive legal advice from these entities and, in my experience, it has always been bad.

My Example of Misadvice

I was recently told that I could not seal an arrest by the clerk who answered the phone when I called. I did not even ask the clerk a direct question but was freely told it couldn’t be done. He was absolutely wrong. It didn’t bother me because I knew the law and that was not the reason for my call. However, I thought about the person who calls that is trying to seal or expunge their own record. Someone in that position could hear this and simply give up.

Click on image to buy.

There Should Be A Book To Help People

So I decided to write a book. A guide to help people seal or expunge their own arrest record without the need to hire a lawyer. It’s called “Erase Your Record”* and it is available today on Amazon and other book sellers (do a web search using “erase your record book eric dirga” and it should be on the top of the search list). It took me around 9 months to write. I had a lot of help from my friends at the VIP Law Firm who helped me get this published in a very professional way.

Seal or Expunge Single Misdemeanor Arrest

It is written from the perspective of a person with a single misdemeanor arrest. It can be helpful for people with multiple arrests or a felony arrest however I encourage those people to first consult with a lawyer first.

Cheap, Helpful, and Bailout Information

The book is relatively cheap, is filled with helpful information, and – if the going gets too tough – it has useful “bailout” information to help you decide if it is time to talk to a lawyer. This is not rocket science and no one should be fooled into paying too much for this service – especially when, with a little effort and determination, you can probably do this yourself.

Eric J. Dirga, P.A.

Attorney Eric J. Dirga has been sealing and expunging criminal arrest records since the late ’90s. He has provided this service to hundreds of people and continues to help people clear their record. He is available as a speaker and will talk to anyone who will listen about the importance of putting a youthful mistake in the past for a better tomorrow.

To Contact

*”Erase Your Record” is the property of Dirga Products, LLC.

What To Do When Involved in a Car Accident

Everyday people are involved in car accidents. Hopefully it is not you! But if it was, would you know what to do immediately following the accident? My guess is that most people do not because the law is boring to read and no one really has the time to do all the research over something they hope never occurs. So below I try to explain what the law requires if you are in an accident and hopefully in a way that is not as boring as the statutory language… just remember “report the accident.”

Previously published on Eric J Dirga, PA blogger account on April 16, 2014.


Did I just hit that car?

I will skip over the obvious – if an accident occurs and there has been a death or serious bodily injury you have to remain at the scene, render aid, and call the police and emergency response personnel (911). If you don’t bad things will happen.

Let’s say you are in the typical accident, there is damage to property, and it is too early to tell if anyone is injured because you are all walking around filled with adrenaline. If neither car is operable you will be staying around. You could run but an easy check of the Vehicle Identification Number is going to be the path law enforcement takes to track you down and charge you with Leaving The Scene – you don’t want that.

I damaged someone’s property!

So you have damaged someone’s property, in this case their car but it could be a mailbox or some other property. The law (section 316.061, Fla. Stat.) requires that you stop and remain at the scene. If the vehicles are obstructing traffic you have to do you best to SAFELY move the vehicles out of the path of traffic (section 316.071, Fla. Stat.). If you alone cannot move the vehicle then you must try and solicit help from others. Only do this if it is safe. I would suggest taking pictures first but don’t wait too long – those people you are blocking want to get to where they are going now and you are inconveniencing them.

Vehicles are moved – Can I go now?

Okay, you have moved the vehicles and traffic is moving smoothly. No rubbernecking or anything! Okay, there are a bunch of rubberneckers that just don’t care about the people behind them – THEY have to see what happened before they drive on and forget it. What do you have to do now?
According to the law (section 316.062, Fla. Stat. if your checking) you have to exchange information with the other driver or property owner (in case you ran over his mailbox). The information consists of the following:

  • Your legal name, not one made-up. (Section 316.067, Fla. Stat. makes it a crime to deliberately lie to the police in this situation.)
  • Your correct address.
  • The registration number of the vehicle you were driving.
  • And, if requested, present your driver’s license or permit to drive.

That is all to the other person(s) involved in the crash. When law enforcement arrives you will also have to give all that information to the police (and they will request your driver’s license). Additionally, the police will require that you share your insurance information (section 316.070, Fla. Stat.) with the other parties and with him.

Hey, no police arrived? What now?

This would be a rare situation. But, let’s say it happens. If you have shared all the above information with the other people involved in the accident you should be okay to leave unless there has been a death or injury or the property damage is $500 or more (section 316.065, Fla. Stat.). If there was a death, injury, $500 or more in property damage, or you cannot share the information with those others involved in the accident (for whatever reason) then you must immediately go to the nearest police agency and report the crash (or call using your cell phone – some of these statutes are old school).

I don’t want to talk to the police ’cause they may arrest me!

Well, that may seem like a valid reason to stay quiet however, during an accident investigation, you are required to cooperate fully with law enforcement and report the accident. They have a lot to put in their report (section 316.066, Fla. Stat.). Nothing said during that accident investigation can be used against you in a criminal case (or traffic hearing for that matter).

If, however, the police say something like “I’m concluding my accident investigation and now I am starting my criminal investigation…” and then they read you your rights – that’s the signal to be quiet. You probably won’t but that is the time to invoke your right to remain silent. I suggest saying “Okay, I will invoke my right to remain silent and want an attorney present on my behalf during any further questioning of me.”

Hey, I damaged some property but no one is around to give my information to!

Yikes! You hit a parked car and no one is around to exchange information with. Can you just leave? No, they have thought of that possibility too (section 316.063, Fla. Stat.). In a case where the property is unattended you have to  do the following to report the accident:

  • Immediately stop – suppress that urge to drive away!
  • Try to locate the owner of the property (and if located exchange the information noted above).
  • If not located, securely and conspicuously place on the damaged property the information required above.
  • Finally, you have to call the police and report the accident. If you don’t they will hunt you down and arrest you for leaving.

Hey, I was knocked out and taken to the hospital. I can’t report this or exchange information!

Yes, they have thought of that too. And you are right – you do not have to report the accident or exchange information in that scenario. Odds are the police will find you and get the information at that time. If there were other people in your car during the accident that are not injured they will be required to exchange the information and cooperate with the accident investigation.

If there were no others in the car, the police did not find you, then within 10-days of the accident the owner of the vehicle (that could be you) has to report the accident. If you are the owner and due to the accident still cannot report the accident within 10-days you will have to report it at your earliest ability.

Today, that rarely happens. The police will find you at the hospital and take care of that requirement.


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.

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 traffic issues throughout the state of Florida.