Below is a list of frequently asked questions regarding Florida expungements and sealings.
Florida Questions (and Answers)
Florida has two procedures – expunging a record and sealing a record – the process is similar. Any differences between the two will be pointed out in the answers.
Florida provides statutory law as to what records qualify for these procedures. The result of the arrest has to have been dismissal of the charges or the disposition must meet certain criteria. See, Expungement Qualifications for more details.
There are fixed costs and there are legal fees (if you decide to hire a lawyer). The fixed costs include such things as the cost of a notary, fingerprinting costs, and court costs, just to name a few. Legal fees vary depending on the attorney. See my Expungement Fee and Costs.
You cannot seal or expunge your record for free. There are costs involved even if you do not hire a lawyer. See Free Record Expungement.
Yes. We offer several payment plans. Typically, we split the legal fee in half. You pay the first half to get started and the last half when we are ready to petition the court. We also have a monthly payment plan.
A lawyer/attorney is a person educated in the law, who is licensed to represent other people before the courts. Anyone can represent themselves. However, due to the ever more complexities within the law it is not advisable to represent yourself because a minor mistake may forego you chance to try again. See, Do You Need an Expungement Lawyer.
No. You can pay an attorney more money but your record expungement or sealing will not get done any faster. The nature of the delays and the time it takes are out of the attorney’s hands. If you go to FDLE’s Expungement page, they tell you what applications they are currently working on.
The answer to this fluctuates. Currently it is taking between 6-12 months to start and finish a record expungement or sealing. I wrote extensively on this in How Long Does a Florida Expungement Take because other attorneys were making ridiculously short claims. However, since 2020, FDLE has shortened the time it takes them to review and respond to applications. I have had clients done in 6-7 months since then.
There is no exact answer to this question. Once ordered the Clerk of Court must execute the order. However, if court costs are due, those must be paid first. Agencies that are affected by the order must execute it once notice has been given to them. The time it takes to do all of these things is not precise. A round estimate may be between 3-5 weeks to be safe.
Yes. You do not have to live in the State of Florida to have a Florida criminal arrest record sealed or expunged. You do not even have to live within the country. Millions of people each year visit Florida. People get arrested while visiting Florida and then return home. The law applies to everyone.
By looking on the Florida Online Statutes you will be able to look up each statute. The expungement statute is in chapter 943, section 0585 (typically read as section 943.0585, Florida Statutes). The sealing statute is in section 059.
Yes. There are websites that provide some information. These are typically Clerk of Court websites. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s website is also particularly helpful. Be aware that once you start this process, neither agency can help you. I wrote a book called “Erase Your Record” that tries to fill in the gaps for people trying to do this themselves. It can be found on Amazon.com.
The answer is yes but there are many factors that have to be taken into consideration to make sure you qualify. Qualifying means that it is likely that FDLE will issue a Certificate of Eligibility for your case. Contact us and we will determine if you qualify for free.
The answer to this is “everything.” Having a criminal record expunged or sealed takes your record off official government websites, you are legally allowed to deny the arrest ever occurred, and your record is no longer a public record. These are just a few of the benefits. See my Expungement Benefits page for more information.
The answer is yes, however you would have to disclose your record to all potential employers. Because this question is complex, I have written several posts on this subject. Please review Can You Teach with a Record, An Arrest, a Background Check, and Your Job, Level 1 and Level 2 Background Checks, and Your Criminal Record and Your Job.
Any offense that you were arrested for can be expunged provided that all charges were dropped, dismissed, or found not guilty after a trial, and you have never had a previous arrest record expunged or sealed in Florida, and you have never been adjudicated guilty (convicted) of a criminal offense in Florida.
Any offense can be sealed except those specified in section 943.0584. Those offenses cannot be sealed, even if adjudication was withheld. These are listed on FDLE’s website and I written about sexually motivated offenses.
Many of the benefits are the same but there are minor differences. For example, an expunged record must be destroyed while a sealed record is made confidential. Both are no longer public records. See differences between sealing and expungement.
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