ERIC J DIRGA, PA

Alternative Methods of Sealing Records

Many people desperately seek any method to seal their court records once it is determined that they no longer qualify to have their arrest record sealed or expunged by the typical means (sections 943.0585 and 943.059, Florida Statutes). This naturally turns to rule 2.420 in the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration  and section 943.0581, Florida Statutes – administrative expungement. I will explore both of these options with their pluses and minuses.

The Typical Means of Expunging – Sealing Record Are Not Available

Before we can dive into the “alternative” methods of sealing or expunging criminal records, we should first briefly explain the typical means of doing this. Under Florida law, a person who has been arrested (to include receiving a Notice to Appear) may have the opportunity to have that arrest record sealed or expunged (see, What is Expungement). To qualify a person must:

  • have never been convicted of any criminal offense,
  • have never had a previous record sealed or expunged (under typical means),
  • have had the charges against him dropped, dismissed, or never filed on (expungement), or
  • have had a “withhold of adjudication” and the charge is not prohibited (sealing).

See, Qualifying for an Expungement.

A person no longer qualifies once they have successfully had an arrest record sealed or expunged or they have been convicted (adjudicated guilty) of a criminal offense. See, Difference Between “Withhold” and “Adjudicated”). This problem often raises its head when a person is found guilty of a crime that requires an adjudication of guilt by law, e.g., DUI, naively pled guilty at an arraignment to a minor offense that included an adjudication of guilt (see, Criminal Case Dispositions), or have already had an arrest sealed or expunged.

The impact of a criminal record (see, What is a Background Check) often goes unnoticed for years, long after the ability to change the situation through court proceedings in the original case. People who are affected by their past are usually trying to obtain or change their employment, including seeking promotions. Other common reasons include applying to be a resident at certain apartment complexes and trying to be a chaperone for their child at a school function.

Once they realize that their criminal history is affecting them, they seek to have this minimized. They either qualify to have it sealed or expunged and go through the 8-12+ month process or they don’t qualify and they seek alternative methods.

Alternative Methods of Sealing Judicial Records

Below are alternative methods of sealing court records.

Rule 2.420

Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420 is titled “Public Access to and Protection of Judicial Branch Records.” This rule is directly governed by article I, section 24(a) of the Florida Constitution (Access to Public Records and Meetings):

Every person has the right to inspect or copy any public record made or received in connection with the official business of any public body, officer, or employee of the state, or persons acting on their behalf, except with respect to records exempted pursuant to this section or specifically made confidential by this Constitution. This section specifically includes the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government and each agency or department created thereunder; counties, municipalities, and districts; and each constitutional officer, board, and commission, or entity created pursuant to law or this Constitution.

As noted, there are “exempted” records. Pursuant to rule 2.420, “confidential” records are exempt and may be released “only to the persons or organizations designated by law, statute, or court order.”

Confidential information includes information that is confidential under this rule or under a court order entered pursuant to this rule.

It is important to note that exempt records are confidential except for those people and organizations designated by law, statute, and court order. This means that records deemed confidential are still accessible to specific organizations (for specific reasons).

In order to have the court deem a record confidential, it has to be established that the confidentiality is required to:

  • prevent a serious and imminent threat to the fair, impartial, and orderly administration of justice;
  • protect trade secrets;
  • protect a compelling governmental interest;
  • obtain evidence to determine legal issues in a case;
  • avoid substantial injury to innocent third parties;
  • avoid substantial injury to a party by disclosure of matters protected by a common law or privacy tight not generally inherent in the specific type of proceeding sought to be closed;
  • comply with established public policy set forth in the Florida or United States Constitution or statutes or Florida rules or case law;

Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420(c)(9)(A).

The rule spells out specifically how the motion must be presented when requested civil records or when requesting criminal records to be sealed.

Drawbacks

If a record is deemed confidential pursuant to one of the reasons listed above, it is still accessible to specific entities for specific reasons. The Clerk of Court must allow access to confidential court records to persons “authorized by law.” Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.420(j)(1). This not only includes records determined to be confidential by motion but also those considered confidential by rule.

A record already deemed confidential by rule that is causing a person hardship cannot be “sealed” again to prevent this hardship. By example, Rule 2.420(d)(1)(B)(viii) specifically states that clinical records under the Baker Act are confidential. See, section 394.4615(7), Florida Statutes. However, section 394.4617(3)-(6) lists when and who may have access to it. If a person is finding a hardship because of the confidential record, then seeking to seal such record under rule 2.420 would be ineffective.

A sealed record by court order pursuant to rule 2.420 is no longer a public record and will not be posted and accessible on the Clerk of Court’s website. However, that is about all of the protections. You cannot lawfully deny that the event occurred as with the s. 943.0585-059 expungement-sealing. Moreover, the rule 2.420 sealing only applies to “court” records and extends no further. See, Rivero v. Farach, 43 F.L.W. D1091a (Fla. 3d DCA, May 16, 2018).

Possibilities

There are situations where seeking this type of relief may be positive for the person being affected by the record. First, the record sought to be sealed cannot already be deemed confidential (see above). Then the court must be convinced that the record must be sealed for one of the reasons listed in Rule 2.420(c)(9)(A).

A possible example is the case where someone (victim) seeks an injunction for protection against violence. That someone names a person as the respondent (aggressor). Once filed it becomes a public record. A name search through a Clerk of Court’s website will show that the person has been accused of a violent act.

If the alleged victim doesn’t appear at the hearing to determine its validity or is denied the relief, the “allegation” remains a public record. This can cause a hardship on the person accused in the petition. The filings in these cases are public records and it may benefit that person to try and have it sealed pursuant to rule 2.420.

The rule contemplates a variety of reasons why a record should be deemed confidential. You must follow the specific outline of how a motion presents this request.

Alternative Method of Expunging Non-Judicial Records

Section 943.0581, Florida Statutes – Administrative Expungement

This is a procedure for “expunging” an arrest record of an arrest made in error. The most obvious mistaken arrest is the mistaken identity arrest that sometimes occurs when a warrant is executed. People have been mistakenly arrested on a warrant because they have shared the same name as the person who the warrant was written for.

Many people believe that an administrative expungement applies when they have been arrested (not by mistake) when the charges have later been dropped or never even filed on. This is inaccurate even if the basis for the arrest was on a falsification. This is partly due to the remedy an administrative expungement provides (see Drawbacks, below).

There may be civil remedies that can compensate a person for false allegations that caused these damages (loss of liberty, employment, embarrassment, etc.) but that is beyond the scope of this post.

Drawbacks

The Florida administrative expungement will remove the arrest from FDLE’s criminal history. It does not remove the record from the Clerk of Court’s website (if a case was generated). To do that, you will have to follow through with a rule 2.420 sealing or use section 943.0585, Florida Statutes (expungement).

In order to have an arrest administratively expunged, the arresting agency has to agree and notify FDLE (through an application that the arresting agency submits) that the arrest was a mistake. Despite protective language within the statute, law enforcement agencies are loath to admit to any mistakes requiring additional legal steps to be taken.

Possibilities

If a mistaken arrest has occurred, you will have available the administrative expungement procedure. Typically, mistaken identities are cured once you have entered the county jail systems and fingerprints have been taken and processed. However, this process can take several days. It is imperative that you hire an attorney and file an action for the false arrest. This action will usually result in a settlement (you will not get rich) and that will provide documentation that can be used to convince the agency to apply to FDLE for the administrative expungement.

Conclusion

Neither of the above options are streamlined to be used in a casual basis. Both fall short of a complete erasure of the record. However, the administrative expungement and the judicial rule both cover a niche that can be beneficial for those people who fall within their bounds of relief.


For More Information Emailed to You

You can submit your information below and we will email you information about our record expungement and sealing services and representation. You can also go to our ⚖ Florida Expungement webpage for more details.

You will not be placed on a mailing list and we share your information with NO ONE. For more information, see our privacy policy.


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 in Orlando, FL. He provides legal representation for expungement and sealing of records throughout the state of Florida.

An Arrest, A Background Check, Your Job

an arrest your job

Unfortunately, people often find themselves wondering what impact a recent arrest will have on their current or future employment. This usually occurs soon after the arrest occurs or, if young, years later when the impact is felt.

An “arrest” is remains on your record even if all charges were either dropped or never filed. An arrest marks your criminal history regardless of the outcome of the case and the only legal method in Florida to reduce this impact is a process called a record “expungement,” or record “sealing.”

How Does an Arrest Affect Your Job

An arrest for the common crimes, such as simple DUI or some minor misdemeanor or innocuous felony, will eventually have you thinking about how this will affect your employment. The impact can be immediate or years later.

An Arrest Will Affect Your Employment

It is not whether an arrest will affect your employment, it is to what degree will it affect your employment. The question also concerns when it will affect your current job or future jobs.

An arrest when we are young may not seem immediately devastating. The effects may only appear when you have begun your employment search years later. However, if you are already in your career field, the impact may be immediate.

Government Employment

Government employment will definitely be impacted by any arrest. Almost all government jobs will entail some kind of pre-screening (see, Level 1 and 2 Background Checks) and follow-up screenings. However, using a criminal arrest history in the hiring decision does have restrictions.

Federal law makes a distinction between the use of arrests and convictions and there are protections under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Florida state employment also has protections regarding the use of criminal arrest histories (see, Your Criminal Record and Your Job). However, in all instances a criminal record can be used as a pre-judge of character for the particular field of employment.

In other words, despite all the pretty language, an arrest is a negative mark on any government application.

Private Sector Employment

The private sector is also governed by federal regulations regarding the use of background checks for employment (and some state regulations). You should be aware of these protections, even if they are minimal.

More important is the movement to push criminal history information to the back of the hiring process so that everyone has a chance to show their qualifications and skills for a particular position (See this article from Workplace Fairness).

Specific skills, regardless of background, are also considered since certain jobs required skills that few people have. States provide re-entry services for ex-offenders however many of these services aren’t job training centers. They are just assistance until you can stand on your own feet.

Private entities solicit ex-offenders for job training (see this example) which may or may not be self-serving – however, these lists definitely point out areas where an ex-offender can look for career fields.

Bottom line for private sector jobs is whether or not you have a needed skill. There are job-training agencies out there that solicit to ex-offenders.

For example, people who own boats typically require a mechanic to maintain the boat’s motor(s). Boat owners don’t typically decide who they hire based on a background check. They just want the person to be a known good mechanic and their boat fixed.

Self Employment

Self employment is always a possibility. Professional fields, such as real estate, offer the opportunity to advance to broker status and having your own business. You don’t have to worry about getting hired when you are self employed however, you do have to be concerned with clients becoming aware of your background.

Most people who check other people’s criminal history use private companies, such as Truthfinder or BeenVerified. These companies obtain their information from government agencies such as Clerks of Court and state agencies, such as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement [FDLE] (see below).

Since self-employed people depend heavily on their reputation, knowledge of an arrest being circulated around the community can be devastating.

Will an Arrest Show-up On My Background Check

An arrest can be the traditional handcuffs, back of the police car, trip to the jail or it can be a Notice to Appear. If anyone has ever been accused of shoplifting and been released with a piece of paper that instructed you to appear in court – that is technically an arrest.

A background check can either be a criminal history from a governmental records office or from a private “background check” company. Official government criminal histories are records received from law enforcement agencies and the courts. Private background check information is obtained through public records held by government agencies.

Before Case is Resolved

Once you have been arrested, the arrest information is suppose to be transmitted to the state agency that keeps a record of all arrests that occur in the state (which is then forwarded to the FBI). In Florida, the agency is the FDLE.

Technically, your arrest history will start as soon as the information is transmitted to that agency. This can be just days after your arrest. Jails are very good at transmitting this information.

When a person receives a Notice to Appear the state agency may not be immediately notified. However, the Clerk of Court will generate a criminal case file number within their records which is a public record.

Even if the state agency (e.g., FDLE) has no record of the arrest, the Clerk of Court will have a public record of the case which will include arrest data. Either way, private background check companies obtain data from both the state agency (FDLE) and the clerk of courts.

Moreover, the records held by the Clerks of Court are increasingly being digitized and posted online. In Florida, almost 100% of the Clerk’s of Court already have their records online and plans are underway to make access to these records easier.

Case Was Dismissed

One of the biggest misconceptions is the belief that if the charges are dropped or dismissed or not even filed then there is no arrest record. This is false. As pointed out above, the arrest history begins with the arrest. It does not get erased because the charges were not proved or dropped.

Once you have been arrested, private companies will eventually have this information and sell it to their customers. Their customers include businesses (e.g., rental management companies, employers, etc.) and individuals.

Additionally, operations such as mugshots.com and others have almost immediate access to arrest data through the jails. County Jails and Sheriff’s increasingly post arrest data online as well.

See, Why Should I Run a Background Check on Myself, by Kate Dore

Can an Arrest Be Erased From My Record

Most states have statutory procedures to remove arrests from a criminal history. A common term for this is “expungement.” It also can be called “record sealing” and “non-disclosure” order (see What is an Expungement in Florida).

Different States, Different Laws

What term is used depends on the state where the arrest occurred. You must use the state laws where the arrest occurred unless you were arrested on an out-of-state warrant. In that situation you need to use the state laws where the crime occurred. (See, States With Expungements for more information).

You can also look up information at the Electronic Information Privacy Center [EPIC] about current laws and proposed legislation regarding disclosure of arrest information (among other issues).

For help expunging a prior arrest you need to search for a lawyer that practices expungement law in the state where the arrest occurred.

Florida Criminal Arrest Record Expungement and Sealing

Florida has an extensive expungement and sealing laws. You must qualify to have your record sealed or expunged. If you qualify, the procedure takes roughly 8-12 months to complete. Understand that this is the first step to moving past a criminal record. Many people have the misconception that this procedure is a magic bullet. It is not, but it is a huge step in the right direction.

Once Your Record is Expunged

You need to know exactly what the expungement or sealing has done to take full advantage of the benefits. Many people want to know if a sealed or expunged record will show up on a background check. The answer to that is complicated.

After your record has been sealed or expunged, there are still a few things that you should do to make sure that your arrest record does not affect you in the future. Make sure you discuss this with your attorney at the time you hire him/her and once the process on their end is complete.


For More Information Emailed to You

You can submit your information below and we will email you information about our record expungement and sealing services and representation. You can also go to our ⚖ Florida Expungement webpage for more details.

You will not be placed on a mailing list and we share your information with NO ONE. For more information, see our privacy policy.


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 in Orlando, FL. He provides legal representation for expungement and sealing of records throughout the state of Florida.

Misconceptions About Expungements

expungement misconceptions

I wrote this post because of the misconceptions people have regarding an expunged (or sealed) record in Florida. This has led to a lot of confusion about these statutes. The first thing we need to define is what a “record” actually is.

The Record of Arrest

When a person is arrested (either by physical arrest or by “Notice to Appear”) information regarding the arrest is transmitted to several agencies. These include the Florida Department of Law Enforcement [FDLE] (which maintains arrest histories from the entire state of Florida), the county sheriff’s office (which maintains arrest histories for the county), the arresting agency, the State Attorney’s Office, and the Clerk of Court. In addition, FDLE sends their arrest data to the Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI].

Public Records

Unfortunately, at least two of these agencies (Clerk of Court and FDLE) sell their data to private companies. Even if they did not, the information regarding arrests is considered “public records” (freely available to the public). The reason arrest records are public records is for the people’s protection. We want to know who the government has arrested and why so that people aren’t mysteriously disappearing (which happens in other countries).

Today, this leads to the problem of an arrest following a person for their entire life, regardless of severity of the allegations and outcome of the case. This can detrimentally affect a person’s future. Because of these adverse effects, the State of Florida created the ability to expunge or seal an arrest record under limited conditions.

Florida Record Expungements Misconceptions

People mistakenly believe that having an arrest record sealed or expunged magically removes it from the internet entirely. This is completely wrong. The law only addresses the government agencies that maintain arrest histories (FDLE, Sheriff, Arresting Agency, State Attorney, Clerk of Court).

Expunging or Sealing Record Not Magic Bullet

The biggest misconception is that a Florida arrest record expungement or sealing is a one stop fix all. It is not. It is a necessary first step a person must take to limit the impact of an arrest. People need to understand that to limit the information’s impact the information must initially be dealt with at its source, which are the government agencies maintaining these records. That is what an expungement or sealing achieve.

What a Record Expungement or Sealing Does

An arrest record expungement or sealing requires those government agencies that maintain the arrest records to either destroy the record or make it inaccessible to the public. Additionally, and more importantly – it makes the record a non-public record.

This is critically important to understand. Private companies that collect arrest records from these government agencies to sell to the public, employers, etc. depend on the records being “public records.” This shields them from liability. Once a record is no longer a public record, liability for distribution of that record can exist and most legitimate companies don’t want that.

Further, the expungement and sealing statutes legally allow a person whose record has been sealed or expunge to lawfully deny that particular arrest. This is also critical to understand once the record has been sealed or expunged. A person who has had their arrest record sealed or expunged must utilize this part of the law in order to take advantage of all the benefits provided by the law.

What a Record Expungement or Sealing Does Not Do

Some of the issues an arrest record expungement or sealing will not fix – and must be understood by anyone seeking this relief – relate to employment opportunities, immigration, and licensing.

Employment

There are misconceptions that, once a record is sealed or expunge, no employer will have access to it. There are specified “entitled entities” that, by law, will have some access to a record that has been sealed or expunged. These are typically government employment or employment with agencies that require a state issued license to operate (e.g. nursing home) (see State Required Background Checks).

Immigration

There is also misconceptions that an arrest record expungement or sealing will assist someone seeking an immigration VISA or immigration Status. Here people must be careful. Record expungements and sealings are limited to those arrests that resulted in the charges being dropped (or otherwise found not guilty) or minor non-violent offense that the person was found guilty of (but not convicted). Either an expungement or sealing will make those records inaccessible not only to the public at large but also to the person who was the subject of the arrest.

As pointed out above, FDLE sends their arrest data to the FBI. Immigration Services (and all other Federal agencies) receives its information from the FBI. Federal agencies are not bound by Florida law and therefore will have access to this information albeit it will remain limited and confidential (not accessible to the public).

It is important for people who are seeking immigration VISAs or Status to maintain certified copies of their arrest record (arrest affidavit, charging document, and case disposition) if they decide to expunge or seal their record because Federal agencies will request them.

Licensing

Obtaining a license for specified profession is subject to the laws of Florida. Believing that having your arrest record sealed or expunged will cure this issue is another misconception. People who have been arrested should review the eligibility requirements for those specific professions before moving forward. Because of the restrictions to which an expungement or sealing is available, if a person qualifies for either they should be okay. However, that alone should not be the only criteria to base this decision. Obtaining certified copies of your arrest record (see above) is necessary if a person decides to seal or expunge their record.

Private Background Check Companies

An arrest record expungement or sealing order does not notify private companies who have obtain this information prior to the record becoming non-public. Those companies will continue to disclose arrest records that have been sealed or expunged under Florida law until they are notified or are made aware of the change. This is probably the biggest misconception. It is also why a person, who has had their arrest expunged or sealed, understand all the benefits of the law, including the ability to deny the arrest.

Conclusion

An arrest record expungement or sealing is only the first step for a person who is seeking to move past their arrest record. It gives them the tools to move forward but it is not an all-in-one solution. When counseling anyone who is seeking to expunge or seal their record it is important that they understand what this process will do and what they will need to do once it is completed.

Additional Information

Expungement FAQs Page

Erase Your Florida Record: Book


For More Information Emailed to You

You can submit your information below and we will email you information about our record expungement and sealing services and representation. You can also go to our ⚖ Florida Expungement webpage for more details.

You will not be placed on a mailing list and we share your information with NO ONE. For more information, see our privacy policy.


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 in Orlando, FL. He provides legal representation for expungement and sealing of records throughout the state of Florida.

Your Criminal Record and Your Job

criminal background and future jobs

A lot of people are concerned about how a criminal history record will affect them as it relates to their employment. Can they be fired, will they lose the promotion, what can they do to hide their criminal record from their employer.

Caveat Regarding This Post

This post only deals with Florida state government employees. The laws only apply to what government can do to government employees. They cannot tell what private companies can do to their employees that have a criminal record. In previous posts I talked about the Level 1 and Level 2 Background Checks. You should read up on that when you get the chance.

The Impact of a Criminal History Record on Your Employment

I’m an attorney and I help people expunge their criminal record. That means I help people hide their criminal record. The biggest concern I get is how a criminal record will impact their employment. Hopefully, this post will shed some light on this topic.

Florida Law and Your Job

The Florida Statutes (that can be found online) actually have some protections for people who have a criminal record. Below I go through the pertinent ones with comment.

Convicted or Not Convicted

I use the term “criminal record” or “criminal history record” while the statutes use the word “conviction.” A strict interpretation of the word “conviction” under Florida law means that a court found a person guilty of a crime and adjudicated the person guilty. Florida law allows a court to find someone guilty of a crime and “withhold” the adjudication of guilt and this is typically not a conviction.

However, often times the legislature redefines the term “conviction” within specific statutes to include instances where a court “withheld” the adjudication. An example of this is the following language:

“Convicted” means a finding of guilt or the acceptance of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, in any federal or state court or a court in any other country, without regard to whether a judgment of conviction has been entered by the court having jurisdiction of the case. Section 633.412(2), Florida Statutes (as it relates to firefighter qualifications).

Therefore, I use criminal history record or simply criminal history, pointing out that any arrest on your criminal history record could impact your ability to obtain a state issued license or a state, county, or municipal job.

Specific Jobs, Specific Statutes

Note also that specific jobs may have specific statutes that govern the employment requirements and restrictions. Firefighters are an example of this, as noted above. Unfortunately, I cannot include all these statutes within this post. In the future I may focus on specific employment areas, such as Teacher Qualifications that I previously wrote about.

Florida Statutes Regarding Employment

I will be reviewing the following Florida Statutes sections; 112.011, 125.5801, 166.0442, and 775.16. My comments are in normal text.

112.011 Disqualification from licensing and public employment based on criminal conviction.—
(1)(a) Except as provided in s. 775.16 (see below), a person may not be disqualified from employment by the state, any of its agencies or political subdivisions, or any municipality solely because of a prior conviction for a crime. However, a person may be denied employment by the state, any of its agencies or political subdivisions, or any municipality by reason of the prior conviction for a crime if the crime was a felony or first-degree misdemeanor and directly related to the position of employment sought.

The language of this section needs to be clarified because it can easily be misconstrued. The first takeaway that you must understand is the use of the phrases “may not be disqualified” and “may be denied.” An initial reading of this section may lead you to believe that a prior conviction is no bar to employment. However, all this section is really saying is that a past arrest cannot be the sole reason for barring employment. The language “directly relating to the position of employment sought” is telling us that other statutes that relate to the specific employment or license sought will be the authority on the standards for employment in that specific field.

Second degree misdemeanors would seem to not be a bar to employment, but again, specific statutes may include them.

(b) Except as provided in s. 775.16, a person may be denied a license, permit, or certification to pursue, practice, or engage in an occupation, trade, vocation, profession, or business by reason of the prior conviction for a crime if the crime was a felony or first-degree misdemeanor that is directly related to the standards determined by the regulatory authority to be necessary and reasonably related to the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare for the specific occupation, trade, vocation, profession, or business for which the license, permit, or certificate is sought.

Here the statute is clarifying the fact that specific employment may have specific standards that will pre-empt this section. This means your criminal history record can be used to prevent your employment or licensing in specified areas. See below regarding the reference to s. 775.16, Fla. Stat.

(c) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, a state agency may not deny an application for a license, permit, certificate, or employment based solely on the applicant’s lack of civil rights. However, this paragraph does not apply to applications for a license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm under chapter 790.

This subsection simply points out that the lack of civil rights (felony were the court adjudicated the defendant guilty) cannot be the sole basis for barring employment.

(2)(a) This section does not apply to any law enforcement or correctional agency.

(b) This section does not apply to the employment practices of any fire department relating to the hiring of firefighters.

(c) This section does not apply to the employment practices of any county or municipality relating to the hiring of personnel for positions deemed to be critical to security or public safety pursuant to ss. 125.5801 and 166.0442.

Some exceptions but not all. Seeking a state issued license in any field should be researched beyond this section.

(3) Any complaint concerning the violation of this section shall be adjudicated in accordance with the procedures set forth in chapter 120 for administrative and judicial review.

This just tells us that cases arising from this section are handled under administrative law procedures.

History.—ss. 1, 2, 3, ch. 71-115; s. 1, ch. 73-109; s. 20, ch. 81-24; s. 30, ch. 88-122; s. 1, ch. 90-266; s. 678, ch. 95-147; s. 3, ch. 2002-169; s. 3, ch. 2011-207; s. 90, ch. 2013-183.

125.5801 Criminal history record checks for certain county employees and appointees.—
(1) Notwithstanding chapter 435, a county may require, by ordinance, state and national criminal history screening for:

(a) Any position of county employment or appointment, whether paid, unpaid, or contractual, which the governing body of the county finds is critical to security or public safety;

(b) Any private contractor, employee of a private contractor, vendor, repair person, or delivery person who is subject to licensing or regulation by the county; or
(c) Any private contractor, employee of a private contractor, vendor, repair person, for-hire chauffeur, or delivery person who has direct contact with individual members of the public or access to any public facility or publicly operated facility in such a manner or to such an extent that the governing body of the county finds that preventing unsuitable persons from having such contact or access is critical to security or public safety.

(2) The ordinance must require each person applying for, or continuing employment or appointment in, any such position, applying for initial or continuing licensing or regulation, or having such contact or access to be fingerprinted. The fingerprints shall be submitted to the Department of Law Enforcement for a state criminal history record check and to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a national criminal history record check. The information obtained from the criminal history record checks conducted pursuant to the ordinance may be used by the county to determine a person’s eligibility for such employment or appointment and to determine a person’s eligibility for continued employment or appointment. This section is not intended to preempt or prevent any other background screening, including, but not limited to, criminal history record checks, which a county may lawfully undertake.
History.—s. 1, ch. 2002-169; s. 1, ch. 2013-116.

Certain public employment requires a criminal history check. I discuss this in my post regarding Level 1 and Level 2 Background Checks. Chapter 435 governs these background checks. This tells us that a county can require criminal history background checks that the county finds “is critical to security or public safety.” The standard for what is critical to security or public safety is left to the county to determine.

166.0442 Criminal history record checks for certain municipal employees and appointees.—
(1) Notwithstanding chapter 435, a municipality may require, by ordinance, state and national criminal history screening for:
(a) Any position of municipal employment or appointment, whether paid, unpaid, or contractual, which the governing body of the municipality finds is critical to security or public safety;
(b) Any private contractor, employee of a private contractor, vendor, repair person, or delivery person who is subject to licensing or regulation by the municipality; or
(c) Any private contractor, employee of a private contractor, vendor, repair person, for-hire chauffeur, or delivery person who has direct contact with individual members of the public or access to any public facility or publicly operated facility in such a manner or to such an extent that the governing body of the municipality finds that preventing unsuitable persons from having such contact or access is critical to security or public safety.

(2) The ordinance must require each person applying for, or continuing employment or appointment in, any such position, applying for initial or continuing licensing or regulation, or having such contact or access to be fingerprinted. The fingerprints shall be submitted to the Department of Law Enforcement for a state criminal history record check and to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a national criminal history record check. The information obtained from the criminal history record checks conducted pursuant to the ordinance may be used by the municipality to determine a person’s eligibility for such employment or appointment and to determine a person’s eligibility for continued employment or appointment. This section is not intended to preempt or prevent any other background screening, including, but not limited to, criminal history background checks, that a municipality may lawfully undertake.
History.—s. 2, ch. 2002-169; s. 2, ch. 2013-116.

This is similar to the above noted section except it applies to municipalities.

775.16 Drug offenses; additional penalties.—
In addition to any other penalty provided by law, a person who has been convicted of sale of or trafficking in, or conspiracy to sell or traffic in, a controlled substance under chapter 893, if such offense is a felony, or who has been convicted of an offense under the laws of any state or country which, if committed in this state, would constitute the felony of selling or trafficking in, or conspiracy to sell or traffic in, a controlled substance under chapter 893, is:
(1) Disqualified from applying for employment by any agency of the state, unless:
(a) The person has completed all sentences of imprisonment or supervisory sanctions imposed by the court, by the Florida Commission on Offender Review, or by law; or
(b) The person has complied with the conditions of subparagraphs 1. and 2. which shall be monitored by the Department of Corrections while the person is under any supervisory sanctions.

Simply put, an offense for selling or trafficking (possessing an amount set by statute) on a person’s background will require that all court conditions be completed before that person can apply for employment (so long as this background is not prohibited by a more specific statute).

The person under supervision may:
1. Seek evaluation and enrollment in, and once enrolled maintain enrollment in until completion, a drug treatment and rehabilitation program which is approved by the Department of Children and Families, unless it is deemed by the program that the person does not have a substance abuse problem. The treatment and rehabilitation program may be specified by:
a. The court, in the case of court-ordered supervisory sanctions;
b. The Florida Commission on Offender Review, in the case of parole, control release, or conditional release; or
c. The Department of Corrections, in the case of imprisonment or any other supervision required by law.

2. Submit to periodic urine drug testing pursuant to procedures prescribed by the Department of Corrections. If the person is indigent, the costs shall be paid by the Department of Corrections.

(2) Disqualified from applying for a license, permit, or certificate required by any agency of the state to practice, pursue, or engage in any occupation, trade, vocation, profession, or business, unless:
(a) The person has completed all sentences of imprisonment or supervisory sanctions imposed by the court, by the Florida Commission on Offender Review, or by law;
(b) The person has complied with the conditions of subparagraphs 1. and 2. which shall be monitored by the Department of Corrections while the person is under any supervisory sanction. If the person fails to comply with provisions of these subparagraphs by either failing to maintain treatment or by testing positive for drug use, the department shall notify the licensing, permitting, or certifying agency, which may refuse to reissue or reinstate such license, permit, or certification. The licensee, permittee, or certificate holder under supervision may:
1. Seek evaluation and enrollment in, and once enrolled maintain enrollment in until completion, a drug treatment and rehabilitation program which is approved or regulated by the Department of Children and Families, unless it is deemed by the program that the person does not have a substance abuse problem. The treatment and rehabilitation program may be specified by:
a. The court, in the case of court-ordered supervisory sanctions;
b. The Florida Commission on Offender Review, in the case of parole, control release, or conditional release; or
c. The Department of Corrections, in the case of imprisonment or any other supervision required by law.
2. Submit to periodic urine drug testing pursuant to procedures prescribed by the Department of Corrections. If the person is indigent, the costs shall be paid by the Department of Corrections; or

(c) The person has successfully completed an appropriate program under the Correctional Education Program.

Starting with subsection (2) above, a person must complete all sanctions/requirements of the court for being found guilty of selling or trafficking in (possessing an amount set by statute) before he/she can apply for a trade license.

The provisions of this section do not apply to any of the taxes, fees, or permits regulated, controlled, or administered by the Department of Revenue in accordance with the provisions of s. 213.05.
History.—s. 2, ch. 90-266; s. 21, ch. 92-310; s. 13, ch. 95-325; s. 292, ch. 99-8; s. 296, ch. 2014-19; s. 14, ch. 2014-191.

After a review of these statutes, it seems clear that the language prevents public entities from barring employment solely on the basis of a prior arrest and finding of guilt. However, other statutes that address specific types of employment, e.g., teaching, firefighting, law enforcement, will control and have priority in the employment decision process.

Language Can Be Misleading to Layperson

The language of these statutes can be misleading to the layperson who is seeking employment and who has a criminal history record. It is therefore important to understand that state issued licenses typically have their own statutes governing the requirements for issuing the license. Additionally, employment with a state, county, or municipality may require a criminal history background check based on the discretion of those governmental entities.

How Does This Affect Expunging or Sealing

How does this affect a person’s decision whether or not to expunge or seal their arrest record? Often times, people seeking to expunge or seal their arrest record do not disclose to their attorney that they are seeking a license or employment. When the expungement or sealing is completed they then find out that it has had no effect in their pursuits. This can lead to some arguments with their attorney (as to why they paid to have their record expunged or sealed).

It should be asked of all potential clients what the purpose is for their desire to have their record expunged or sealed. It should also be disclosed that the expungement or sealing of their record may not be the cure that they seek (see Entitled Entities on FDLE’s website). However, it should also be pointed out that expunging or sealing their record should be done regardless of their current situation due to the time it takes to complete and protections it does offer even if it means the person may have to seek a different vocation.

Additional Information

An Arrest, Background Check, and Your Job

The Effect of a Pardon


For More Information Emailed to You

You can submit your information below and we will email you information about our record expungement and sealing services and representation. You can also go to our ⚖ Florida Expungement webpage for more details.

You will not be placed on a mailing list and we share your information with NO ONE. For more information, see our privacy policy.


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 in Orlando, FL. He provides legal representation for expungement and sealing of records throughout the state of Florida.

“Relates To” – The Latest Expungement Objection

relates to

The latest expungement objection (more specifically toward the sealing of records) has to do with the statutory language (that can be found in both ss. 943.0585 and 943.059, Fla. Stats.); “A criminal history record that relates to a violation of…[.]” Prosecutors (and judges) are now arguing that even if they drop, orally amend, or otherwise modify the original charges, if a person was originally charged with a prohibited offense then they are prohibited from sealing their arrest.

This was first raised not by the prosecution but by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement [FDLE]. FDLE refused to issue a Certificate of Eligibility because, in their minds, the offense the defendant admitted to was “related to” (but was not) the initial charge which were prohibited by statute.

Lazard v. Florida, 229 So.3d 439 (Fla. 5th DCA 2017)

In Lazard v. State, 229 So.3d 439 (Fla. 5th DCA 2017), the appellant was denied a Certificate of Eligibility to have his record sealed. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement [FDLE] originally denied the Certificate of Eligibility because FDLE claimed the charge “related to” an offense prohibited from being sealed.

The Appellant was originally charged (by Information) with Aggravated Child Abuse, a crime specifically prohibited from being sealed. Ultimately, the State agreed that the appellant could plea to the offense of Contributing to the Dependency of a Child, a misdemeanor (not specifically prohibited by statute). The State did not file an amended Information setting forth facts about the offense of contributing to the dependency of a minor. Id., footnote 1.

Several years later the appellant applied for a Certificate of Eligibility from the FDLE. He was denied the certificate. FDLE’s explanation was that his criminal history related to a prohibited offense.

Appellant filed a motion to compel which was denied by the Circuit Court. The Circuit Court’s reasoning was that the appellant had pled to a charge that “relates to” an act of domestic violence. From this ruling the appeal was initiated.

The District Court Ruling

The District Court made a specific ruling on when FDLE must issue a Certificate of Eligibility. Citing section 943.059(2), Florida Statutes, the Court pointed out the clear language of the statute. FDLE “shall issue” a certificate of eligibility so long as the applicant follows subsections (a) thru (f). If an applicant complied with the statute, FDLE must issue the certificate.

That part of the ruling really didn’t change much, except maybe to temper FDLE’s enthusiasm to make prophylactic legal objections outside of the courtroom. However, the reason for the initial denial by FDLE of the appellant’s certificate had been raised and will lead more prosecutors to using the “relates to” objection in the future.

But there are problems with this…

“A criminal history record that ‘relates to’ a violation of…”

Both the expungement statute (s. 943.0585, Fla. Stat.) and the sealing statute (s. 943.059, Fla. Stat.) have the identical language that this new objection surrounds. Specifically:

A criminal history record that relates to a violation of s. 393.135, s. 394.4593, s. 787.025, chapter 794, former s. 796.03, s. 800.04, s. 810.14, s. 817.034, s. 825.1025, s. 827.071, chapter 839, s. 847.0133, s. 847.0135, s. 847.0145, s. 893.135, s. 916.1075, a violation enumerated in s. 907.041, or any violation specified as a predicate offense for registration as a sexual predator pursuant to s. 775.21, without regard to whether that offense alone is sufficient to require such registration, or for registration as a sexual offender pursuant to s. 943.0435, may not be expunged, without regard to whether adjudication was withheld, if the defendant was found guilty of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to the offense, or if the defendant, as a minor, was found to have committed, or pled guilty or nolo contendere to committing, the offense as a delinquent act.

-Section 943.0585, Florida Statutes, dealing with the expungement of records.

A criminal history record that relates to a violation of s. 393.135, s. 394.4593, s. 787.025, chapter 794, former s. 796.03, s. 800.04, s. 810.14, s. 817.034, s. 825.1025, s. 827.071, chapter 839, s. 847.0133, s. 847.0135, s. 847.0145, s. 893.135, s. 916.1075, a violation enumerated in s. 907.041, or any violation specified as a predicate offense for registration as a sexual predator pursuant to s. 775.21, without regard to whether that offense alone is sufficient to require such registration, or for registration as a sexual offender pursuant to s. 943.0435, may not be sealed, without regard to whether adjudication was withheld, if the defendant was found guilty of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to the offense, or if the defendant, as a minor, was found to have committed or pled guilty or nolo contendere to committing the offense as a delinquent act.

-Section 943.059, Florida Statutes, dealing with the sealing of records.

The Argument and Absurd Results

The logical thought process that a lesser charge someone enters a plea to “relates to” the original charge he was arrested for makes sense – in one respect. The defendant would not have been found guilty of the lesser charge had he or she not first been arrested or charged for the higher charge.

Anyone who has practice criminal law knows that a police report is often embellished and incomplete and overcharged. Prior to a trial, the relationship between the police report (or the charging document based on the police report) and what the defendant ultimately takes responsibility for is, most often, speculative after the fact.

One of the best and most common examples of this is the often mistakenly charged “Burglary of a Dwelling” offense (prohibited from being sealed) that turns into a simple trespass. Does the trespass “relate to” the burglary of a dwelling? Should a person seeking to seal his arrest record where he was ultimately found guilty of trespass be denied because he was arrested for burglary?

The other problem is over-charging. It is law enforcement that decides what will show up first on a person’s arrest record. An arrest record begins with the arrest. A person arrested for “Burglary of a Dwelling” will have an arrest record starting with a date of arrest for a burglary, not a trespass. It is not modified to show the outcome of the criminal case. Whether it was reduced, dropped, or never filed on will only appear at the bottom, in some acronym language, if at all.

The Point is for a Second Chance

The original point of sections 943.0585 (expungement) and 943.059 (sealing) were to give people a second chance. Today, the purpose is two-fold. In the past the protection, which allowed for denial of the arrest, would have been enough. Today, with the advent of the Information Age, the protection is to also remove the blemish from the internet record.

It helps no one to have people pay for an over-charged offense, that potentially enforces a barrier to employment, promotion, or any type of financial advancement, for a lifetime. We all do better when we collectively all do better. By allowing a legal method for removing an arrest record after the person has paid their “debt to society” not only makes sense, it is just.

What You Must Do to Protect Your Client

After the Lazard case, it would seem that a defendant should use all methods to protect him or herself when coming to a resolution. Amending a prohibited offense to a lesser crime that can be sealed has been the first step. Now, an oral amendment by the Office of the State Attorney may not be enough.

Physically amending the information, spelling out only the elements of the lesser offense may be required (and is the best option for serious offenses). Unfortunately, we all know that would mean extra work for the prosecution and they are already swamped. Asking for this “effort” is necessary for serious crimes but may be impractical for “common” crimes (I’ll leave that to your imaginations).

Having the prosecutor, at the time of the oral amendment, state on-the-record that his or her office will not object to a subsequent request to seal the record (provided the defendant otherwise qualifies) may be the best option. I would also ask that it be annotated on the defendant’s disposition.


For More Information Emailed to You

You can submit your information below and we will email you information about our record expungement and sealing services and representation. You can also go to our ⚖ Florida Expungement webpage for more details.

You will not be placed on a mailing list and we share your information with NO ONE. For more information, see our privacy policy.


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 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.

For More Information Emailed to You

You can submit your information below and we will email you information about our record expungement and sealing services and representation. You can also go to our ⚖ Florida Expungement webpage for more details.

You will not be placed on a mailing list and we share your information with NO ONE. For more information, see our privacy policy.


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.

There Should Be A Book To Help People

erase your record - book title

In 2018 I wrote a book to specifically help people who were trying to expunge or seal their own Florida record. It was inspired by the fact that I knew a lot of people were doing this and I was often hired to help them finish the project. Now, people in this situation (and those just beginning) can simply buy this book and follow the step-by step guide to completion.


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.


For More Information Emailed to You

You can submit your information below and we will email you information about our record expungement and sealing services and representation. You can also go to our ⚖ Florida Expungement webpage for more details.

You will not be placed on a mailing list and we share your information with NO ONE. For more information, see our privacy policy.


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

What To Do When Involved in a Car Accident

  • Traffic Accidents happen everyday.
  • The Registered Owner of the vehicle is responsible.
  • You Must Notify the damaged property’s owner.
  • Accident Tickets can be challenged.

Did I just got in a Traffic Accident?

If a traffic 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.

I damaged someone’s property!

So you have damaged someone’s property in a traffic accident, 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?

After the traffic accident you have moved the vehicles and traffic is moving smoothly. 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?

If you have shared all the above information with the other people involved in the traffic 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).

I don’t want to talk to the police ’cause they may arrest me for a traffic accident!

Well, that may seem like a valid reason to stay quiet however, during a traffic accident investigation, you are required to cooperate fully with law enforcement and report the traffic 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!

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 traffic 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 traffic 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.

The Application to Expunge and the Prosecutor

certificate of eligibility application

This will be the first in a series of blogs to address the key player’s roles in the Florida expungement process. This post will address the role of the reviewing prosecutor when he/she receives a Florida Department of Law Enforcement [FDLE] application to expunge (the application is to seal or expunge but is not required to be signed by a reviewing prosecutor if the applicant is only seeking to seal their record). In order to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility to expunge a record, the State Attorney or Statewide Prosecutor must sign off on the application.

Application to Expunge Florida Record

In order for an applicant (a defendant seeking to have his or her record expunged) to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility to Expunge from FDLE the application must be signed by the State Attorney’s Office. The signature is not required if the applicant is seeking to seal his or her record.

Florida Administrative Code 11C-7.006

Florida Administrative Code 11C-7.006 simply indicates that “[t]he appropriate state attorney or statewide prosecutor should complete section B of the Application for Certification of Eligibility and have it certified.” This is typically delegated to a reviewing prosecutor within the office.

The Application to Seal or Expunge a Record

The application instructs the reviewing prosecutor to sign indicating that the applicant is eligible to have his record expunged under the following circumstances:

  1. An indictment, information, or other charging document was not filed or issued in the case; OR
  2. An indictment, information, or other charging document, if filed or issued in the case, was dismissed or nolle prosequi by the state attorney or statewide prosecutor, or was dismissed by a court of competent jurisdiction; OR
  3. (a) None of the charges (acts) related to the arrest or alleged criminal activity to which the application for certificate of eligibility to expunge pertains resulted in an adjudication of guilt or of delinquency; AND
    (b) The record of the arrest or alleged criminal activity to which the application for certificate of eligibility to expunge pertains has been sealed for at least 10 years; AND
    (c) None of the charges (if any) for which adjudication of guilt or of delinquency was withheld relates to a violation of s. 393.135, s. 394.4593, s. 787.025, chapter 794, s.796.03, s. 800.04, s. 810.14, s. 817.034, s. 825.1025, s. 827.071 chapter 839, s.847.0133, s. 847.0135. s. 847.0145, s. 893.135, s. 916.1075, a violation enumerated in s.907.041, or any violation specified as a predicate offense for registration as a sexual predator pursuant to s. 775.21, without regard to whether that offense alone is sufficient to require such registration, or for registration as a sexual offender pursuant to s.943.0435.

Signing Does Not Indicate the Position of the State Attorney

By indicating with signature that the applicant is eligible based on the above criteria, the application specifically states that the prosecutor’s signature “does not imply that the applicant has satisfied all other statutory eligibility criteria, or that this Office would not oppose a petition to expunge the above-referenced case.” In other words, the processing of the application is strictly administrative and does not reflect the position of the State Attorney’s Office.

Indicating Ineligibility Based on Statutory Requirements

The reviewing prosecutor can also sign the application indicating that the applicant is not eligible to have his or her record expunged due to the following criteria:

  • One or more of the charges (acts) related to the arrest or alleged criminal activity to which the application for certificate of eligibility to expunge pertains resulted in an adjudication of guilt or of delinquency;
  • OR, BECAUSE OF ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING REASONS:
    • The record of the arrest or alleged criminal activity to which the application for certificate of eligibility to expunge pertains has not been sealed for at least 10 years;
    • One or more of the charges for which an adjudication of guilt or of delinquency was withheld relate to a to a violation of s. 393.135, s. 394.4593, s. 787.025, chapter 794, s. 796.03, s.800.04, s. 810.14 s. 817.034, s. 825.1025, s. 827-071, chapter 839, s. 847.0133, s. 847.0135, s. 847.0145, s. 893.135, s. 916.1075, a violation enumerated in s. 907.041, or any violation specified as a predicate offense for registration as a sexual predator pursuant to s. 775.21, without regard to whether that offense alone is sufficient to require such registration, or for registration as a sexual offender pursuant to s. 943.0435;
    • Records available to this Office disclose some other ground of statutory ineligibility (e.g., adjudication of guilt in a different case; previous expunction or sealing).

Signing the application indicating that the applicant is not eligible to expunge is based on statutory requirements. Regardless of how the prosecutor signs off, FDLE will again review the eligibility of the applicant when it receives the application.

Role of Reviewing Prosecutor

The role of the reviewing prosecutor is simple. Either sign the application indicating that the applicant is eligible or that the applicant is ineligible based on statutory criteria. It cannot be based on arbitrary reasons. The reviewing prosecutor should return the application to the applicant in a reasonable amount of time (applicant is responsible for providing a self-addressed stamped envelope).

Application for Certificate of Eligibility is Not Void if Ineligible to Expunge

If the reviewing prosecutor indicates that the applicant is not eligible to have his or her record expunged and the applicant is otherwise qualified to have the record sealed – the application itself is still good. The applicant can send it along with the supporting documentation to FDLE in order to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility to Seal the record.


For More Information Emailed to You

You can submit your information below and we will email you information about our record expungement and sealing services and representation. You can also go to our ⚖ Florida Expungement webpage for more details.

You will not be placed on a mailing list and we share your information with NO ONE. For more information, see our privacy policy.


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 representation for sealing and expunging criminal records throughout the state of Florida.

How to Get Your Free Florida Record Expungement

fre florida record expungement

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.

Step-by-Step Guide to Expunging Your Florida Record


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.

Grand Total

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

You can submit your information below and we will email you information about our record expungement and sealing services and representation. You can also go to our ⚖ Florida Expungement webpage for more details.

You will not be placed on a mailing list and we share your information with NO ONE. For more information, see our privacy policy.


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 representation for sealing and expunging criminal records throughout the state of Florida.