found guilty or convicted of a criminal offense

Arrests That Can’t Be Sealed (but can be expunged!)

The law prohibits certain criminal offenses from being sealed if you have been found guilty, regardless of whether the adjudication was withheld. This list applies only if you were found guilty (withheld or convicted of a criminal offense). If the charges you were arrested for were amended, reduced, or the case was dropped you may still qualify to have the arrest record expunged.

Charges that Can’t be Sealed if You Were Found Guilty

Certain criminal charges cannot be sealed even if you had the adjudication of guilt withheld. These are “prohibited offenses” by statute. You must understand that if your charges were dropped then this list does not apply – it only affects charges you were found guilty of (not what you were arrested for). Below is a list of these offenses or you can visit FDLE’s website.

Let’s do a Quick Review of Conditions You Must Avoid

Here is a quick list of why, despite all your desires, you cannot seal or expunge your Florida criminal record:

  • You have been convicted of a criminal offense (anywhere at any time).
  • You have already sealed or expunged a different criminal record in Florida.
  • FOR EXPUNGEMENT: Your case was not dropped/dismissed (You may still qualify for sealing the record).
  • FOR SEALING: Your case resulted in a withhold but is prohibited by statute (see list below).

Any Prior Conviction Stops You From Expungement or Sealing

Under Florida law any conviction for a criminal offense bars you from ever sealing or expunging a criminal record (except if you were the victim of human trafficking or your charges were dropped due to lawful self defense). Let me repeat this – If you were ever convicted of a criminal offense = you are not eligible to have a Florida arrest sealed or expunged in almost all situations.

The Big “But” – Being Found Guilty Does Not Always Mean You Were Convicted

In Florida being found guilty does not mean you were convicted. You can be found guilty and have the adjudication (the conviction) withheld. See the difference between a conviction and a withhold here.

If You Were Convicted

If you were convicted of a criminal offense you may be able to get that conviction overturned or your plea withdrawn. In Florida, the ways to do this are limited and time sensitive. The sooner you try the better. In other states there may be other ways to address convictions.

You Can Only Seal or Expunge One Arrest IN FLORIDA

Currently, Florida allows only one sealing or expungement for a Florida charge under its statutes per lifetime. They are no longer concerned about out-of-state expungements. Florida is only concerned with prior sealings or expungements in the state of Florida. If you have already had a criminal record sealed or expunged in Florida you cannot do it again.

The only exceptions are if you have had a qualified juvenile expungement done in the past, are a victim of human trafficking or your charges were dropped due to lawful self-defense. Those do not count towards your one chance to seal or expunge a criminal record in Florida.

An Expungement Requires That Your Case Was Dropped

Your charges can be expunged if they were dropped or dismissed prior to a trial. If the charges were not dropped prior to trial then they will not qualify to be expunged. However, they may still qualify to be sealed. (See the differences between a sealing and an expungement.). If you do not understand this please contact me. It can be confusing.

SEALING YOUR RECORD: Found Guilty, Received a Withhold, AND Charge(s) Not Listed Below

The charges below refer to what you were ultimately found guilty of – not what you were arrested for:

  • 393.135 Sexual misconduct of developmentally disabled
  • 394.4593 Sexual misconduct of the mentally disabled
  • 787.025 Luring or enticing a child
  • Chapter 794 Sexual Battery (if your charged starts with 794.nnn you are ineligible)
  • 796.03 Procuring person under age of 18 for prostitution
  • 800.04 Lewd or lascivious offenses committed upon or in the presence of persons less than 16 years of age
  • 810.14 Voyeurism
  • 817.034 Florida Communications Fraud Act
  • 825.1025 Lewd or lascivious offenses committed upon or in the presence of an elderly person or disabled person
  • 827.071 Sexual performance by a child
  • Chapter 839 Offense by Public Officers and Employees
  • 847.0133 Protection of minors; prohibition of certain acts in connection with obscenity
  • 847.0135 Computer pornography; traveling to meet minor
  • 847.0145 Selling or buying of minors
  • 893.135 Trafficking in Controlled Substances
  • 916.1075 Sexual misconduct mentally ill defendants
  • Arson
  • Aggravated assault
  • Aggravated battery
  • Illegal use of explosives
  • Child abuse or aggravated child abuse
  • Abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult, or aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult
  • Aircraft piracy
  • Kidnapping
  • Homicide (Murder)
  • Manslaughter
  • Sexual battery (Rape)
  • Robbery
  • Carjacking
  • Sexual activity with a child, who is 12 years of age or older but less than 18 years of age, by or at solicitation of person in familial or custodial authority
  • Burglary of a dwelling
  • Stalking and aggravated stalking
  • Act of domestic violence as defined in s. 741.28
  • Home invasion robbery
  • Act of terrorism as defined in s. 775.30
  • Manufacturing any substances in violation of chapter 893 (Controlled Substances)

The list above includes attempts to commit such crimes also.

Shock v. State, 750 So.2d 769 (Fla. 5th DCA 2000): Appellant asserts that because his offense was only an attempt to violate that statute, he is entitled to have the record sealed. He says he violated section 777.04, a general attempt statute and not the drug trafficking statute section 893.135. We disagree and affirm the order of denial. The record-sealing statute says that if the criminal history record relates to the drug trafficking statute then the record will not be sealed. Certainly an attempt to traffic in drugs relates to drug trafficking so logically the legislature meant to include the attempt.

Always Remember that a Dropped Case May Be Expunged

Don’t be confused by FDLE’s website – any offense can be expunged if the case was dropped/dismissed and you otherwise qualify.

Babun v. State, 576 So.2d 377 (Fla. 3d DCA 1991): The State concedes that the trial court erroneously applied section 943.058, Florida Statutes (1989), in denying a motion to expunge and seal court records showing that the movant was arrested and charged with a criminal offense. The statute, which prohibits the sealing of records in a completed case, does not apply where the charges are nolle prossed.

For More Information

For more information about sealing or expunging your record please feel free to contact me or fill out the form below. I will send you more information on this process.

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