Table of contents
Seal and Expunge Benefits
Arrest Record Sealing and Expungement Benefits include:
- Making your arrest record a non-public record.
- The destruction or making strictly confidential records held by law enforcement.
- The sealing and eventual destruction of court records.
- The removal of electronic information provided by government agencies to the public.
- The ending of the sale of your arrest records.
- The ability to deny that the arrest occurred.
- The shortening of the Firearm Purchasing Restriction.
- Benefits for Level 1 and Level 2 Background checks.
Your expungement or sealing benefits are pretty extensive in Florida. The law is much more powerful than many attorneys realize. I have even heard other attorneys question whether it is worth getting a record expunged today because of the internet. The internet is exactly why you should get your criminal record expunged or sealed.
Benefit 1: An Expunged or Sealed Record Is Not A Public Record
Under Florida law, criminal records are public records. Once your record has been sealed or expunged, it is no longer a public record:
A criminal history record ordered expunged (or sealed) that is retained by the department is confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution and not available to any person or entity except upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction**.
**This subjects anyone that discloses it to liability. Liability is not automatic but the possibility is usually enough to have most private companies remove the information from their records as well.
Benefit 2: Confidentiality or Destruction
An order to seal requires all records be made confidential. An order to expunge requires all non-judicial records be physically destroyed. See, what is an expungement and the difference between a record expungement and sealing.
➠ What The Clerk of Court Must Do
The Clerk of Court must remove all public access to your record. This means it will no longer be available for search on the Clerk’s website nor will it be available for inspections at the Clerk’s office.
➠ What Law Enforcement Must Do
The arresting agency and the County’s Sheriff’s Office must remove all access to those files. An expungement order requires the agency to physically destroy the record of your arrest. A sealing order requires them to make all records confidential.
➠ What The State Attorney’s Office Must Do
Like law enforcement, the State Attorney’s Office must also destroy their records (expungement) or make them confidential (sealing).
➠ What FDLE Must Do
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement maintains a repository of every Florida arrest in its database. Once your criminal record has been sealed or expunged, F.D.L.E. will remove access to these records from their site. They will also forward the order to the FBI. See my blog post on the FBI and NCIC records.
See also, Who Gets Notified When Your Record is Expunged/Sealed to see how the process works.
Benefit 3: Making Your Arrest Disappear
The ultimate goal for everyone seeking to seal or expunge their record is to have it disappear. An expunged or sealed record is the first step to getting this done. Below are some things that can be done to come as close as possible to complete redaction of your record.
Using The Law To Your Benefit
The law specifically states that a person that has had their record sealed or expunged
may lawfully deny or fail to acknowledge the arrests covered by the expunged [or sealed] record.
In order to maximize this benefit, there are a few things you should do after your record has been ordered expunged or sealed.
Additionally, an expungement should help you with Level 1 and level 2 background checks. Specifically, a sealed record should not be a barrier to employment or promotion. Specific employment laws regarding public employment are also in play which should protect you.
Contacting the Private Companies
Once the Clerk of Court finishes expunging or sealing your case, they will send you a certified copy of the order. You can use it to notify private background checking companies that the information is no longer a public record.
Shortening the Firearm Purchase Restriction
A withhold of adjudication on a felony or crime of domestic violence restricts your ability to purchase a firearm for three years after your case is over. Over, meaning all court obligations are done, including any term of probation. Sealing your record shortens the firearm purchase restriction period.
Entitled Entities and When Your Information Must be Disclosed
Even if you have your record expunged or sealed there are specific entitled entities (employers) that you will still be required to truthfully disclose your expunged or sealed arrest. These are employers that are state licensed to work with the elderly, youth, physically or mentally handicapped, and healthcare workers. For a complete list of these entities please view the FDLE webpage on Entitled Entities.
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