Table of Contents
- Quick Overview
- Step by Step Guide on Qualifying
- Don’t Pay a Lawyer Before You Know if You Qualify
- Qualification (what it means)
- Expungement Qualification for a Florida Arrest Record
- Sealing Qualification for a Florida Arrest Record
- A Closer Look at Eligibility
- For More Information Emailed to You
Many people look to expunge or seal a minor offense once they have decided on their career choice, such as nursing, teaching, and law enforcement, or when they become concerned about their current employer finding out about a prior mistake. To be sure, it is never too early to try and get this done. The sooner the better.
Determining if you are eligible to have your record sealed or expunged is relatively easy. You can do either of two things to find out if you qualify.
- You can just submit your information in the form at the bottom of this page, or
- You can read through the questions below.
Hopefully, my explanations are clear. If you submit your information in the below form I will be sending you more detailed information about the process, costs, and time it takes to get done.
Step by Step Guide on Qualifying
The first thing you need to determine before you hire an attorney/law firm is whether you qualify to have your arrest record expunged or sealed. This is not an optional choice.
You either qualify for one or the other or neither. If you qualify to only have your record sealed there is nothing that can be done to change that so you qualify to have it expunged. The same goes if you qualify for neither.
Don’t Pay a Lawyer Before You Know if You Qualify
You want to find out what you qualify for before you hire an attorney. I always check if a potential client qualifies before they hire me. I do this for free. I do not take money from people I cannot help. There is no sense in paying any attorney or law firm if you do not qualify.
Qualification (what it means)
Qualification means that you should receive a Certificate of Eligibility [COE] from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement [FDLE]. With a COE we can petition the court to either seal or expunge your record. It does not mean the Court has to grant your request.
Before we can petition the court to have your record sealed or expunged we must receive the COE from FDLE. The COE must accompany the petition to seal or expunge, otherwise the court will not address the petition.
A Brief Overview of the Process
A very brief overview of the process so that you understand what qualifying means:
- Fill out application and obtain supporting documentation.
- Send application and documents to FDLE.
- FDLE responds with a COE (this would mean you “qualify” to petition the court)
- Petition the Court (last step)
Expungement Qualification for a Florida Arrest Record
To qualify for a Florida Record Expungement, your case must have been resolved in one of the following ways:
- The charges you were arrested for were ultimately dropped, dismissed, or you were acquitted of the charges, either by a judge or jury, and:
- (1) you have never been convicted of a criminal offense in Florida, and
- (2) all juvenile felonies and specified misdemeanors (found in s. 943.0585(1)(d)) that resulted in an adjudication of delinquency have been automatically expunged pursuant to s. 943.0515, Fla. Stat., and
- (3) you have never sealed or expunged another arrest record in Florida (unless you are expunging an arrest that has been sealed for 10-years).
Sealing Qualification for a Florida Arrest Record
To qualify for a Florida Record Sealing, your case must have been resolved in one of the following ways:
- You entered a plea of “Guilty” or “No Contest” and the Court “Withheld” the adjudication of guilt, or
- You were found guilty after a trial and the Court “Withheld” the adjudication of guilt, and
- (1) the offense(s) you were found guilty of is/are not prohibited from being sealed, pursuant to s. 943.0584, Fla. Stat., and
- (2) you have never been convicted of a criminal offense in Florida, and
- (3) all juvenile felonies and specified misdemeanors (found in s. 943.059, Fla. Stat.) that resulted in an adjudication of delinquency have been automatically expunged pursuant to s. 943.0515, Fla. Stat., and
- (4) you have never sealed or expunged another arrest in Florida.
The difference between sealing a record and expunging a record can be found on the Differences Page.
A Closer Look at Eligibility
How Many Times Were You Arrested? Were You Convicted?
We need to know what each of your Florida criminal cases were for (charges) and how they were resolved by the court before we can determine if you qualify. If you have only been arrested once or twice and you remember the County where these arrests occurred, we can look these up for you.
If you do not remember all of your arrests and/or locations, do not guess. If you have been arrested more than twice, you should run an FDLE criminal history on yourself and forward us the results. The cost is $24 paid to FDLE.
However, if all your arrests resulted in charges being dropped, the FDLE criminal history will not show any results. As of October 1, 2019, FDLE’s criminal history will not show arrest information on arrests that result in no charges being filed or all charges being dropped. If you are in this situation, you must use a private background checking company to obtain this information.
In Florida, You Can Be Found Guilty AND NOT BE CONVICTED
In Florida you can be found guilty BUT NOT CONVICTED. This means that you may still qualify to have your record sealed even if you were found guilty or pled “no contest” or “guilty” to a criminal charge. See, differences between conviction and withhold of adjudication.
Remember: Adjudicated Guilty = Convicted. Adjudication of Guilt Withheld = Not Convicted.
Specific Offenses Cannot be Sealed if You Were Found Guilty
If the arrest/case you want removed resulted in a withhold of adjudication, you may be able to have it sealed. However, there are some charges (listed in s. 943.0584, Fla. Stat.) that cannot be sealed even if adjudication was withheld. FDLE maintains a list of offenses that are not allowed to be sealed even if adjudication is withheld.
For More Information Emailed to You
Submit your information above and we will send you an informative email that answers most of your questions regarding costs and time it takes to complete. We also include a worksheet with the email that, f you return to us, allows us to determine if you are qualified to have your Florida arrest record sealed or expunged. You can also download the worksheet here (Expungement Worksheet [PDF]) and return it by email (scan to PDF), Fax at 407-841-9090, or United States mail.