This page provides links to Florida Case Law regarding sealing and expungements and the right to a meaningful hearing on the merits. The cases are list below from the most recent to the oldest. A brief description follows. Citations were removed. Please refer to actual case for complete understanding.
The Right to a Meaningful Hearing
This is one of the strongest positions set forth by the courts. It also goes hand-in-hand with the Discretionary Powers the Court has to Deny a Petition. The courts have consistently found that the petitioner has the right to be heard.
Florida Seal and Expunge Case Law – Right to a Meaningful Hearing
The question of whether you should request a hearing or not is problematic. If the petition is unopposed and the court may grant the request without a hearing you may consider not requesting a hearing. However, if the court denies relief are you too late for a hearing? This has had some clarification in the appellate courts. The best practice would be to ask for a hearing in each case.
J.A.H. v. State, 198 So.3d 884 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016): J.A.H. appeals the trial court’s order denying his petition to seal his criminal record related to two counts he was charged with, one of which he pled to and the other for which the State entered a nolle prosequi. As the State concedes, the trial court erred in failing to hold a hearing and failing to enumerate reasons for denying the petition. J.A.H.’s alternative argument on appeal is that the trial court erred in considering the State’s argument . . . that section 943.059, Florida Statutes (2016), bars J.A.H. from having his record sealed. Although J.A.H. was initially charged with trafficking in oxycodone, under section 893.135, that count was nolle prossed by the State, and therefore does not fit the statutory bar since J.A.H. was not “found guilty of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to the offense.” We agree with J.A.H. that the State’s argument was an inaccurate application of the statute.
Borg v. State, 169 So.3d 261 (Fla 4th DCA 2015): PER CURIAM.
Based on appellee’s concession of error, we reverse the order denying appellant’s petition to seal records and remand to the trial court for a new hearing . . . on appellant’s motion filed pursuant to section 943.059(1), Florida Statutes (2014). The trial court’s order denying sealing of records did not consider the facts and circumstances of the individual case and denied relief based upon generalized considerations, which is not a proper exercise of its discretion.
Fisher v. State, 20 So.3d 1032 (Fla. 2d DCA 2009): The trial court’s order denying Fisher’s petition stated merely that section 943.0585 provides that expunction of criminal history records is at the discretion of the court. A trial court has discretion to deny a petition if there is a good reason for denial based on the facts and circumstances of the individual case. Where a petitioner has complied with the requirements for seeking expunction of judicial records and nonjudicial criminal history records set forth in Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.692 and section 943.0585, Florida Statutes (2007), he is entitled to a hearing at which the trial court should consider all of the facts and circumstances of his case. Because the trial court did not conduct a hearing on Fisher’s petition and did not give a reason for denying his petition, we are unable to determine whether it properly exercised its discretion. Accordingly, we reverse and remand with directions that the trial court conduct a hearing on Fisher’s petition and, if it again denies the petition, enter an order setting forth its reasons.
Orozco v. State, 920 So.2d 208 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006): Appellant filed a petition to seal her criminal record pursuant to rule 3.692, Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, and section 943.0585(sic), Florida Statutes. In her petition, appellant advised the court that her grand theft charge had been reduced to petit theft, that she had not been adjudicated guilty of any charges stemming from her arrest, that she had not been previously adjudicated guilty of a criminal offense, and that she had not secured a prior records expunction or sealing. Appellant accompanied her petition with an original FDLE certificate of eligibility and her affidavit, as required by statute and rule. The trial court summarily denied the petition. Summary denial of appellant’s petition was error. Having complied with all requirements, she was presumptively entitled to an order sealing her records absent a finding by the trial judge that there was a good reason for denial based on the facts and circumstances of the individual case. See Oymayan. Consequently, the trial court should have held a meaningful hearing to consider all of the facts and circumstances of appellant’s case.
Wells v. State, 807 So.2d 206 (Fla. 5th DCA 2002): Because Wells’s petition and supporting papers complied with the requirements of the statutes and rules regarding the [expungement] and sealing of criminal and court records, the Court questioned the denial of a hearing on the merits of Wells’s allegations. We do not conclude that Wells is entitled to the relief she seeks, only that the court must afford her a meaningful hearing. The Court believes that once the court was presented with a proper petition for sealing and expunction, unopposed by the State, the matter should have been set for hearing, as requested by the State, and not summarily denied. Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure 3.692(a) and 3.590(c) contemplate that a hearing will be afforded when requested.
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