This page provides links to Florida Case Law regarding sealing and expungements and what the effect of a prior conviction has on a person’s ability to seal or expunge their criminal record. The cases are listed below from the most recent to the earliest. A brief description follows. Citations were removed. Please refer to actual case for complete understanding.
Effect of a Prior Conviction
How a prior conviction can effect eligibility requirements for expunging or sealing a criminal history record.
Florida Seal and Expunge Case Law – Prior Conviction
This issue has been fairly well litigated. A person seeking to have their criminal arrest record sealed or expunged cannot have been adjudicated guilty (convicted) prior to seeking the requested relief. A prior conviction will prevent a person from obtaining a Certificate of Eligibility [COE] from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement [FDLE]. In order to successfully petition the court to seal or expunge a record a Certificate of Eligibility must accompany the filing.
Current Statute follows. Requires Certificate of Eligibility from FDLE.
Matthews v. State, 760 So.2d 1148 (Fla. 5th DCA 2000): When the appellant filed her petition for expungement, the statute failed to clearly state whether the petition or the arrest date was the relevant date. The Appellant argued that section 943.0585(2)(d) required that the defendant have not been adjudicated guilty of an offense prior to the time of the arrest for the offense for which expungement was sought. Subsequent to the Appellant’s petition for expungement the Florida Legislature amended section 943.0585(2)(d). The title of the amended law states in part, clarifying certain requirements for a petition to expunge or seal a criminal history record. Although this new clarifying language was not in the statute at the time that the Appellant filed her petition for expungement, a court may consider an amendment to a statute soon after controversies as to the interpretation of the original act arise as legislative interpretation of the original law. Such subsequent amendments to a statute, which serve to clarify rather than change existing law, are entitled to substantial weight in construing the earlier law.
State v. Goodrich, 693 So.2d 1093 (Fla. 2d DCA 1997): Case relates to s. 943.059, Fla. Stat. (Supp. 1994). Petitioner was adjudicated guilty of a battery and therefore did not qualify to have his record sealed. (May have been before requirement to obtain COE).
Hunt v. State, 670 So.2d 1180 (Fla. 3d DCA 1996): Petitioner’s request to seal was denied. Petitioner argued that conviction for DUI came after the arrest he wanted to seal and therefore should not be considered. However, the DUI conviction came before the petition. Therefore, under section 943.059, the conviction was properly considered by the trial judge. At the time of the Judge’s ruling on the petition, Hunt had previously been adjudicated guilty of a criminal offense…. § 943.059(1)(b)1, Fla.Stat. (1995).
Former section 943.058, Florida Statutes follow.
State v. Pena, 593 So.2d 282 (Fla. 4th DCA 1992): Hold that the portion of the court’s order sealing its own records is a matter within the discretion of the court and completely justified by section 943.058(2), whereas the part which purports to affect records in the custody of others, such as the State Attorney and Sheriff’s Office, etc., is a departure from the essential requirements of law because the petitioner did not qualify for the relief. Petitioner had adjudication withheld initially but violated his probation and was adjudicated thereafter.
State v. Kasper, 536 So.2d 300 (Fla. 2d DCA 1988): The court’s equitable powers are irrelevant to the determination of a sealing motion. Petitioner had to meet the criteria in section 943.058(2) which required that he not be adjudicated guilty of the charged offense sought to be expunged or sealed. Because the petitioner had been adjudicated guilty he was disabled from being able to properly swear to his eligibility for a sealed record. § 943.058(2), Fla. Stat.
State v. Urf, 524 So.2d 1118 (Fla. 2d DCA 1988): Finding no departure from the essential requirements of law in the court’s agreement to seal its own records. However, we do agree that the court exceeded its authority in ordering the sealing by law enforcement agencies of arrest and criminal history records of the petitioner who, having been adjudged guilty of the offenses in question, did not qualify for such extraordinary relief. §§ 943.058(2) and 943.058(3), Fla. Stat. (1987).
State v. Herstik, 475 So.2d 1268 (Fla. 4th DCA 1985): Respondent’s adjudication of guilt for driving under the influence precluded him from meeting the requirements set forth in section 943.058(2)(b). (However, it appears from the transcript that the trial court intended to expunge pursuant to section 943.058(3), Florida Statutes (1983), which gives the court discretion to expunge upon a finding of unusual circumstances notwithstanding subsection (2) of section 943.058. Therefore we grant this writ without prejudice to the trial court to reconsider this matter, upon proper motion.)
Disharoon v. State, 442 So.2d 387 (Fla. 2d DCA 1983): Court denied petition to expunge record indicating that the petitioner had a prior conviction. However, petitioner’s record did not indicate a prior conviction. Case remanded for reconsideration.
Poleski v. State, 371 So.2d 548 (Fla. 3d DCA 1979): Court properly unsealed expunged record when defendant was arrested for possessing controlled substance and DUI. Defendant expunged possession charge (which was dropped after pretrial diversion) but was convicted of DUI. Conviction precluded relief from the statute.
State v. Sobie, 343 So.2d 73 (Fla. 3d DCA 1977): The trial court departed from the essential requirements of law in that it failed to follow the explicit wording of the statute when it granted expungement to petitioner that was previously found guilty of municiple ordinance.
Do you have questions, would like to suggest additional case law, or want to seal or expunge your Florida criminal record? Please feel free to contact me. I generally try to respond within 24 hours.