Florida Expungement Questions
Answering Florida Expungement and Sealing Questions
Many people have Florida expungement questions. Below I try to answer these questions for you. Although Florida has two procedures – expunging a record and sealing a record – the process is similar. Any differences between the two I will point out in my answers. If you don’t find your answers below, please feel free to contact me with your question.
How can you get your record expunged?
Florida provides a statute that allows you to expunge or seal your record if you qualify (read about seal and expunge differences here). The Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure and Administrative Code provide how this is done and what must happen if ordered (read these codes and rules here). Additionally, many Clerk of Court websites provide information about this procedure. You can represent yourself or hire a lawyer to get this done.
Can I Expunge My Record For Free?
You cannot seal or expunge your record for free. There are costs involved even if you do not hire a lawyer. These are explained below.
How much does it cost to have your criminal record expunged in Florida?
This is a good question. There are fixed costs that are required to be paid for both record expungements and sealings. These include:
- the Florida Department of Law Enforcement [FDLE] fee (currently $75),
- the cost to obtain certified copies of documents that you will need,
- notary fees (for the affidavit),
- the filing fee or clerk fee (when the case is filed or done), and
- and legal fees, if you decide to hire a lawyer.
I break down my fees and the costs on my Expungement Fees and Costs page.
Do I need a lawyer to expunge my record in Florida?
The quick answer is no. We are all allowed to represent ourselves in court. The process to either seal or expunge your record is not that hard either, however it is time consuming. And if this is the first (and only) expungement or sealing you will do, the learning curve can make it more complex and harder than it is for a lawyer. The benefit of hiring a lawyer is that you do not have to worry about learning this while you try to get this done – especially if time is of the essence.
Can I Pay More to Get an Expungement Done Faster?
One tip I will tell you is don’t pay a high lawyer fee thinking it will get done faster or because your record is a felony rather than a misdemeanor. In fact, shop around. Look for experience and a competitive price structure. This is not rocket science and it should not break the bank (but it should cover the attorney’s time, experience, and effort). Read more on my Do You Need a Lawyer page.
How long does it take to get a record expunged in Florida
The answer varies but currently it is taking between 8 to 12 months to get an expungement or sealing done in Florida today. It depends on many factors including:
- How fast you complete the Florida Expungement Packet or Sealing Packet that I send you.
- Response time for returning the application from the State Attorney’s Office.
- Response time of FDLE in processing the application.
- How long the court gives the State Attorney to respond to the petition.
- Whether the Court will require a hearing.
- How quickly a hearing can be set.
- How fast the Clerk of Court processes the order.
There are other factors but those are the most significant ones.
How long does it take for your record to clear after the expungement or sealing is ordered?
This varies. Once the petition to seal or expunge your arrest is granted the Clerk of Court must follow their procedure and follow the administrative code. This requires them to remove information in their systems and forward a copy of the order to all required agencies. Once those agencies receive the order they must also seal or expunge the information in their system and then forward the order to any agencies with whom they have shared your information. How long this all takes is unclear. Once the judge signs the order and any outstanding court fees have been paid, the arrest is officially sealed/expunged. It benefits all these agencies to act fast.
Where can I find the Florida expungement statute?
You can look up any Florida statute on the online Florida statutes or you can go to my Legal page to find the expungement and sealing statutes and the administrative code sections that pertain to expunging or sealing your record.
How Can I Qualify to Have My Arrest Record Expunged?
Qualifying is fairly easy to understand. Depending on how your case was resolved will determine if you can seal it or expunge it. First, to qualify you must:
- Never have been convicted of a criminal offense, anywhere.
- Your case must have been dropped or dismissed to expunge it.
- Your case must have had the adjudication withheld to seal it, and
- it must not be a statutorily prohibited offense.
Can a Felony Be Expunged
Yes, a felony can be expunged or sealed (provided it is not statutorily prohibited). The process is exactly the same for a misdemeanor or a felony arrest.
Have Additional Questions about Sealing or Expunging your Florida Criminal Record
I answer many Florida expungement questions by simply going to my Expungement page. If you still have questions please contact me. The best method is by email or using my contact form. I will try to respond within 24 business hours.