Eliminating Your Criminal Record
Eric J. Dirga, P.A., Office Orlando
Under Florida law an expungement or sealing is the means by which people who have been arrested can have their criminal record removed from public eyes. This process is effective in eliminating most hurdles a criminal record brings.
The Definition of an Expunged Criminal Record
Wikipedia defines an expungement in this way:
In the common law legal system, an expungement proceeding is a type of lawsuit in which a first time offender of a prior criminal conviction seeks that the records of that earlier process be sealed, thereby making the records unavailable through the state or [governmental] repositories. If successful, the records are said to be ‘expunged’.
The Florida Attorney General has put these definitions out there:
AGO 75-29, February 12, 1975: Public records and the definition of expunge – Attorney General Opinion. Question whether the term expunge meant the literal destruction of records or removal of all references to the defendant and sealing of remaining record if needed in the future. Answer was that expunge meant physical destruction of records.
AGO 2000-16, March 8, 2000: Criminal history records, expungement – Question: What information in a criminal history record is subject to expungement and to what extent must the record be obliterated or destroyed in order to satisfy the requirements of section 943.0585, Florida Statutes? The information that must be expunged is information maintained by the criminal justice agency identifiable to the individual’s arrest, detention, indictments, informations, or other criminal charges and the disposition thereof.
The reality is that a sealing or an expungement changes your arrest record from a public record to a non-public record. It does not eliminate it from everywhere forever and completely. The AGO opinions are correct however, the F.D.L.E. and the F.B.I. maintain confidential data regarding your arrest for statistical and historical purposes as well as to supply information to agencies that fall within the exceptions of disclosure. That does not mean there are no benefits to expunging or sealing your criminal record. On the contrary, there are many and Florida has one of the most expansive legal protections in the nation.
In Florida you do not have to be a first time offender. So long as you have not had a previous criminal record sealed or expunged in Florida and you have not been convicted of a criminal offense you should qualify. NOTE: In Florida being found guilty does not necessarily mean you were convicted.
What An Expungement Does For You
The definitions above are accurate but they do not tell you what a Florida Criminal Record Expungement does for you. A Florida sealed or expunged record will mean the following for you:
- Your record is removed from government offices such as the Clerk’s Office, Local Law Enforcement Agencies, State Attorney’s Office.
- Your record is no longer a Public Record under Florida law.
- The State of Florida can no longer disseminate information pertaining to that record to private citizens or corporations.
- In most situations, you can lawfully deny that the arrest occurred. (There are exceptions to this.)
Florida expungements and sealings address criminal records. You cannot expunge a record of a traffic ticket or driver’s license suspension.
What You Can Have Expunged Or Sealed If You Qualify
Criminal Arrest Records
Juvenile Expunctions After Completing A Diversion Program
If F.D.L.E. Mistakenly Annotates Your History
Why You May Want To Expunge Or Seal Your Record
Let’s face it, all of us are guilty of doing some embarrassing things. Things we would rather allow to fade into history and forever be forgotten. However, when we have been arrested that past mistake doesn’t just go away. Today past mistakes can be looked up while sitting at the table with a cup of coffee. A sealing or expungement prevents this so you won’t have to worry about:
- A family member, friend, or co-working finding out about your arrest.
- A new love interest locating potential embarrassing information.
- Your boss finding out before a potential promotion.
- Someone wanting to hurt you by posting embarrassing information all over the web.
Still Have Criminal Record Expungement and Sealing Questions
I will email you additional information with a worksheet to fill out so that I can determine if you qualify before you hire me.