Florida law provides a list of offenses that:
- If they resulted in a finding of guilt – even if a withhold of adjudication, cannot be sealed, but
- If they were dismissed, no billed, or acquitted, they can be expunged, or
- If the charge was amended to something other than one of the listed offenses, may be sealed.
It is important to understand the differences between “sealing” a record and “expunging” one. If charges were dropped, you want to expunge them. If you were found guilty and had the adjudication “withheld” you want to try and seal it.
Charges that Can’t be Sealed if Found Guilty
Florida law allows you to seal certain arrest records when you were found guilty. This is a remedial law to allow you to have a second chance without the burden of an arrest record following you. However, certain serious criminal charges cannot be sealed even if the court “withheld” the adjudication of guilt.
SEALING YOUR RECORD
The charges below refer to what you were ultimately found guilty of – not what you were arrested for. For example, if you were arrested for Aggravated Battery but were found guilty of just Battery, you would be eligible to seal your record if you otherwise qualify.
If you were found guilty of any of the below listed offenses, they cannot be sealed:
- 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
- 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
- Homicide (Murder)
- Sexual battery (Rape)
- 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.
Remember You Can Expunge an Arrest You Were Not Found Guilty Of
Don’t be confused by FDLE’s website – the above list does not apply to any offense if the case was dropped/dismissed/no billed or you were acquitted after a trial 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.
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 above).
Any Prior Conviction Disqualifies 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).
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 or your ⚖ record has been sealed for 10-years and you want to expunge the same record. Those do not count towards your one chance to seal or expunge a criminal record in Florida.
An Expungement Requires That You Were Not Found Guilty
Your charges can be expunged if they were dropped, dismissed no billed prior to a trial, or you were acquitted after a trial. If you were found guilty and had the adjudication withheld you may still qualify to have the record sealed.
For More Information