Decisions of The Florida Appellate Courts
Expunging Multiple Arrests
This page provides links to Florida Case Law regarding sealing and expunging multiple arrests. The cases are listed below from the most recent to the earliest. A brief description follows. Citations were removed. Cases linked to Google Scholar. Please refer to actual case for complete understanding.
Florida Seal and Expunge Case Law – Sealing or Expunging Multiple Arrests
The statutory language regarding the ability to seal or expunge multiple arrests has garnered some attention with the appellate courts and they have given some guidance on the issue. The basis for doing this is all the arrests must derive from the same criminal misconduct. This leaves a lot of leeway for arguing that sealing or expunging multiple arrests should apply for many situations.
Cline v. State, 37 So.3d 327 (Fla. 5th DCA 2010): In June 2005, Cline was arrested for possession of cocaine. He pled to the offense and adjudication of guilt was withheld. In June 2004, Cline was arrested for possession of methamphetamine. The State ultimately nol prossed the case when Cline entered his plea to the aforesaid cocaine charge. Although resolved at the same time, the two cases were unrelated— involving separate and distinct alleged criminal activity, arrest dates, informations, and court files. In 2008, Cline requested and obtained an order sealing the court record in the cocaine case. He subsequently filed the petition in the instant case seeking to seal the court record in the methamphetamine case. Cline suggests that Rules 3.692 and 3.989 do not place any limits on a court’s inherent authority to control its records, but only regulate the procedure and types of forms to be utilized. The acceptance of Cline’s argument would mean that trial courts would be required to hold an evidentiary hearing on virtually every petition to seal court records, regardless of 1) the nature and severity of the underlying charged offense(s), 2) the number of prior arrests and/or offenses, 3) the number of prior adjudications, and 4) the number of prior sealings. We reject Cline’s argument. We believe the adoption of Rules 3.692 and 3.989 reflect the supreme court’s intent to limit the circumstances in which a party can request the sealing of a record so as to appropriately balance the policy of public access to court records against the competing policy of providing a second chance to criminal defendants.
Oymayan v. State, 765 So.2d 812 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000): Court expunged only one offense from three (that were arrested for one time) because each offense occurred on a separate day. Section 943.0585 expressly authorizes a trial court to expunge records relating to one arrest or one incident. The statute does not provide that a court may expunge records related to one arrest so long as the arrest involved but one incident. It subsequently allows the court to order expunction of records pertaining to more than one arrest if the additional arrests directly relate to the original arrest. The Court concluded that the sole fact that more than one incident occurred is an insufficient reason to preclude expungement of the records.
The Dinkins Standard
Dinkins v. State, 764 So.2d 693 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000): The pertinent portion of section 943.059 provides: The court may only order sealing of a criminal history record pertaining to one arrest or one incident of alleged criminal activity, except as provided in this section. The court may, at its sole discretion, order the sealing of a criminal history record pertaining to more than one arrest if the additional arrests directly relate to the original arrest. The statute does not contain a blanket prohibition against record expungement where a defendant has committed multiple criminal acts. The statute uses the phrase any of the acts stemming from the arrest or alleged criminal activity, suggesting that the Legislature contemplated multiple criminal acts. The statute also speaks to additional arrests directly [related] to the original arrest. Accordingly, the fact of multiple arrests does not foreclose a record expungement. Adopts A.B.M. standard: additional arrests or charges that stem from one criminal activity or episode where the additional offenses are temporally related or there is some nexus between the offenses. Further explained, State v. Dinkins, 794 So.2d 736 (Fla. 1st DCA 2001): The more correct interpretation of A.B.M., is that the offenses must stem from one activity or episode, and in addition, the crimes must be temporally related or have a nexus between them.
State v. A.B.M., 742 So.2d 818 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999): Petitioner filed petition to seal a record in a specific case and requested that another case, which he was sentenced on at the same time but occurred months apart, also be sealed. The second case did not have a Certificate of Eligibility for those offenses from FDLE. The State concedes that the trial court had the discretion to seal the court records and nonjudicial criminal history records pertinent to first Case (which had a COE) and the trial court also had the discretion to seal the court records in second case (with no COE). However, petitioner’s argument that the language in the statute which provides that [t]he court may, at its sole discretion, order the sealing of a criminal history record pertaining to more than one arrest if the additional arrests directly relate to the original arrest is not applicable. The Court construed that sentence in section 943.059 to apply to additional arrests or charges that stem from one criminal activity or episode where the additional offenses are temporally related or there is some nexus between the offenses.
If you have questions, would like to suggest additions case law citations, or would like to see if you qualify for a sealing or an expungement, please contact me. I try to respond within 24 hours.