We all took too many risks and did too many dumb things – but we were kids. Unfortunately, some of us got caught. These one-time mistakes should not follow you for the rest of your life. A juvenile expungement erases that one time learning moment.
Juvenile Record Expungements
Florida law allows for the expunging or sealing of certain juvenile records. Should you do this for your child and is it worth it?
When You Should Consider Expunging Your Child’s Juvenile Record
The main reason to expunge or seal your child’s record is to minimize the exposure your child’s record has to the outside world. Most of us believe that Juvenile records are confidential – wrong. Some juvenile records are sold by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement [FDLE] to whoever is willing to buy them.
Currently, the law allows FDLE to sell felony juvenile records. Misdemeanor records should remain confidential. Additionally, Juvenile records are automatically expunged upon reaching the age of 21 or 26 (depending on circumstances of the disposition) unless the juvenile commits a new offense as an adult before this automatic expungement occurs.
Juvenile record confidentiality is complex and subject to many interpretations by different government agencies. That’s why FDLE believes it can sell juvenile records and the Department of Juvenile Justice does not.
There Are Several Types of Juvenile Expungements
Florida law allows for several types of juvenile expungement proceedings. You need to understand each to know if an expungement is necessary.
Standard Expungement and Sealing
The good news is that your child can take advantage of the sealing (s. 943.059, Fla. Stat.) and expungement (s. 943.0585, Fla. Stat.) statutes. These are one time requests to the court to have an arrest record removed from the public records.
When to use this: When your child has been arrested for a felony offense and all court obligations and supervision has ended.
- It will stop FDLE from selling your child’s record.
- It gives the most comprehensive protection by law.
- Can only be used once in a lifetime.
- Juvenile supervision can last until 19th birthday.
Qualified Juvenile Expungement
In addition, the law also provides for a juvenile diversion expungement (s. 943.0582, Fla. Stat.) if your child has completed a juvenile diversion program for a non-violent misdemeanor offense.
This is a one time procedure for relief. It does not count against the ability to use the standard seal or expunge procedure (mentioned above). However, it must be completed within one year of the completion of the diversion program. See, FDLE website.
Understand that the qualified juvenile expungement only applies to records that FDLE cannot sell (non-violent misdemeanors). This means that the record should remain confidential whether the record is expunged or not.
- Relatively simple to do.
- Does not count towards the one-time use of the standard expungement or sealing.
- Can only be used for non-violent misdemeanors that went through diversion.
- The law already prevents the selling of this type of records.
Automatic Expungement of Juvenile Records
Under section 943.0515, Florida Statutes, a juvenile’s record is administratively expunged upon reaching the age of 21 or 26 automatically, depending on the circumstances of the case. However, if the juvenile commits a crime as an adult, prior to either age that applies, his or her juvenile record will be merged with his or her adult record.
This law must be considered when deciding whether to expunge your child’s arrest. If the standard expungement/sealing method must be used, you need to consider that this is a once in a lifetime benefit. It cannot be used again. How these statutes interplay must be understood before you can make an informed decision.
- Automatic so long as child does not commit new offense as adult.
- FDLE will be selling juvenile felony arrests up to the time of this expungement.
Early Automatic Expungement
As of 2017, there is a provision to allow the automatic juvenile expungement to take place before the age of 21. There is an application process for this and the information can be found on FDLE’s website.
- Will shorten the duration when FDLE is selling juvenile felony arrests.
- Relatively easy to do.
- Not automatic.
- Applicant must have turned 18 when applying.
Contact My Office
It is not easy to decide whether or not your child needs to have the juvenile expungement procedure done. It depends a lot on the facts surrounding your child’s case. Contact me for more information.