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What To Do After The Record Is Expunged/Sealed

If you have yet to start your record expungement, what are you waiting for – Start Your Expungement.

If you have already gotten your record expunged, Congratulations! You have completed your Florida record expungement or sealing. However, you are not done yet. You still need to:

  • Back up your legal ability to deny the arrest.
  • Be prepared to notify private companies.

Before We Begin . . .

Before you begin, there is something everyone who has their record sealed or expunged needs to know – this is not a magic bullet. When the judge signs the order, there is no magic wand that removes everything from the internet. This is a first step, the only first step you can take to protect yourself from an arrest history. It is not perfect and ultimately there is still work to do but without sealing or expunging your record, nothing can be done. There will be private companies that will continue to have your information, that will never know the court’s decision – until you inform them. Hopefully, this page will help you do this and help you use the protections of the law to the fullest extent possible.


Your Case is Expunged or Sealed – Now What?

You have finally finished what you started. However, there are some things you should know and do to take full advantage of the law.

After Your Record Has Been Expunged or Sealed

When you have your criminal arrest sealed or expunged:

  • The record is no longer a public record.
  • You have the lawful ability to deny the arrest occurred (there are exceptions to this! Entitled Entities).
  • your arrest records are made confidential (sealed) or are physically destroyed (expunged).

This includes the records of the arresting agency, the sheriff’s office, the state attorney’s office, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement [FDLE] (FDLE never physically destroys records since they maintain electronic data. Those records are made non-public and removed from public search but are otherwise kept for historical and statistical purposes).

No Longer a Public Record

When your criminal record is sealed or expunged it is no longer a public record (see, s. 943.0585 and 943.059, Fla. Stat.). It is exempt from disclosure under Chapter 119, Florida Statutes

These records include those in the possession of the:

  • arresting agency,
  • the sheriff’s department,
  • the state attorney’s office, and
  • the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Any other official government agency that received such information must also destroy or make confidential any records they maintain and cannot disclose absent a court order.

You Can Deny the Arrest Ever Occurred

Additionally, if your record has been sealed or expunged you are legally allowed to deny that the arrest occurred. This means you can answer no to the question where you ever arrested (as it pertains to the arrest you had sealed or expunged). There are exceptions to this benefit called Entitled Entities and you must know these. You must answer honestly to these Entitled Entities.

⚖ Entitled Entities.

This means that on applications for jobs or apartments you can indicate that the arrest you had sealed or expunged never existed, that you were not arrested. This is probably the most valuable ability given to you once you have your criminal record ordered expunged or sealed. Florida’s Level 1 and 2 background checks require special attention.

Maximize The Advantages of the Law

To maximize the benefits of the expungement or sealing law make sure to obtain:

  • certified copies of your court file (before it is expunged/sealed),
  • a certified (digital) copy of the order granting your petition,
  • a certified letter from the Clerk of Court indicating no record.

Obtain Certified Letter from the Clerk of Court

This is important. Once you have had your criminal record sealed or expunged you should to go to the Clerk of Court (where your case was filed) and request a criminal records check. The term used may vary from Clerk to Clerk but basically it is a “criminal history check” through their records to see what they have in their files on you.

Criminal History Searches through the Clerk of Court comes with a modest fee but it is well worth it. You need this letter.

They will require personal information to do the search – give them any information they ask for, such as date of birth, social security number, driver’s license number, etc. They also need to know the time range. I suggest having them search before and after the year you were arrested for a period of three to five years.

They will do the search and they will not find the sealed or expunged arrest. They will then certify a document indicating the results. Use this document (not the order) to back-up your denial of the arrest.

If you live out-of-state you can still obtain a criminal history search through the Clerk of Court by contacting them, finding out how much the search will cost, and making payment arrangements.

Train Your Mind Starting Now

Do not explain what you are doing to the clerk that assists you. Just ask to have them check their records and provide a certified letter for what they find. If you start mentioning your case that was sealed or expunged, they can become confused.

Living In A State Other Than Florida

People who have a criminal record sealed or expunged in Florida but live in another state need to understand how the law’s protections cover them. First, understanding how other states receive criminal history data is important.

Most States Have Some Form of Expungement

Most states today have some form of expungement process. However, the protections are not the same.

List of State Expungement Laws

National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact

Criminal information between states, the federal government, and other states is governed by the National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact. This was created in 1998 and its main purpose was the accurate reporting and sharing of criminal records for government purposes. The information shared is strictly regulated for privacy reasons.

There are many purposes the information will be used for, the main one for you is Purpose Code I – non-criminal justice employment and licensing. The term “non-criminal justice” purposes means:

…uses of criminal history records for purposes authorized by Federal or State law other than purposes relating to criminal justice activities, including employment suitability, licensing determinations, immigration and naturalization matters, and national security clearances.

Just like Florida, other states require specific criminal histories run prior to being employed in certain jobs. In Florida, these “entitled entities” have access to some portions of criminal records for their hiring process.

If you have a record sealed or expunged in Florida and move to another state, you must be aware of that state’s laws regarding entitled agencies and their disclosure requirements.

See, Frequently Asked Questions of the Compact [PDF].

Notifying Private Companies and Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act

There are a lot of private companies that collect public records and then database those records and sell them to the public. These are not official agencies. They provide a service to people who don’t have the time to look for public records and need or want to know things about people. This includes employers and they are governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act [FCRA].

Anytime information that is governed by the FCRA is used in an employment scenario, you have specific rights. Anyone who uses your credit information for employment, credit, or insurance purposes is covered by the FCRA. They must:

  • notify you if they turn you down based on what they found in your credit report, and
  • identify the CRA or information supplier who provided the report.

You also have the right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information. If you identify information being reported that is incomplete or inaccurate, and you report it to the consumer reporting agency, the agency must investigate it unless it is frivolous. Consumer reporting agencies must correct or delete inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable information.

For more information regarding the FCRA click ⚖ here.

How to Find the Addresses of These Companies

Informing a company that has collected your arrest history while it was a public record may seem difficult because their website does not have their address listed on it. There is an easy way to find this information out. First, type in the search bar of your browser “WHOIS LOOKUP.” The results will show all the different “whois” search tools that are out there. Some don’t work or are down. If that happens use another one.

The “whois” search tool allows you to put in the web address (e.g., “https://exemble.com/”) of any company and it will bring back the information that the registered host has for that company. The results can be confusing but if you look thoroughly you will find at least a telephone number, email address, or a mailing address.

Google Whois Results
This is a partial result of a whois search for Google.

When informing companies do it with:

  • A short letter directly telling them what you want.
  • A copy of the certified copy of the Order to Expunge/Seal.
  • Include your name and contact information.
  • Keep a copy of the entire letter you send.

If you only receive information on the registrar, request the domain owner’s company contact information from the registrar.

Companies That Claim to Notify Private Companies

Under most state laws a criminal record is a public record. These private companies, that buy and sell your public records, defend their business by the fact that everyone has access to it.

When your record has been sealed or expunged, under Florida law, it is no longer a public record. Disclosure can make these companies liable for damages for disclosing your expunged or sealed record. That is usually enough incentive for them to remove that information.

There are some private law firms and companies that claim they can remove your information that has been sealed or expunged from all the “background” checking companies that have and sell your information. One example is the National Expungement Database Center (see below).

There is at least one non-profit that makes the same claims and asks for no money. Check out the Foundation For Continuing Justice before you spend any more money.

Understand that there may be more of these companies out there today. I do not endorse or exclude any of them.

Websites That May Help

The ⚖ National Expungement Database Center is a private company that says they can clear your expunged record from the private reporting agencies.

The ⚖ Foundation For Continuing Justice is a non-profit that helps remove sealed/expunged records from private database companies.

⚖ Sunlight Foundation has a great article regarding criminal records and expungements with links to helpful websites.

The ⚖ Papillon Foundation is a non-profit (I believe) with a lot of information about criminal records.

The ⚖ Electronic Privacy Information Center [EPIC] is another non-profit organization with a lot of information.

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More Information about Florida Expungements:

⚖ Florida Record Expungement