Below is a list of frequently asked questions regarding Florida expungements and sealings.
Florida Questions (and Answers)
Understand that law is not like math. There are no hard and fast answers to any legal questions. Below I try to answer your questions in easily understandable terms and as accurately as possible. That being said, all answers are subject to change due to your unique circumstances and the fluidity of the law.
Florida provides statutory law as to what records qualify for these procedures. The result of the arrest has to have been dismissal of the charges or the disposition must meet certain criteria. See, Expungement Qualifications for more details.
There are fixed costs and there are legal fees (if you decide to hire a lawyer). The fixed costs include such things as the cost of a notary, fingerprinting costs, and court costs, just to name a few. Legal fees vary depending on the attorney. See my Expungement Fee and Costs.
You cannot seal or expunge your record for free. There are costs involved even if you do not hire a lawyer. See Free Record Expungement.
A lawyer/attorney is a person educated in the law, who is licensed to represent other people before the courts. Anyone can represent themselves. However, due to the ever more complexities within the law it is not advisable to represent yourself because a minor mistake may forego you chance to try again. See, Do You Need an Expungement Lawyer.
Yes. We split the payments into three equal payments over the course of representation.
No. The speed in which this is done depends on how fast your attorney works and how fast you respond to returning the necessary paperwork.
The answer to this fluctuates. Currently, it is taking between 5-8 months to start and finish a record expungement or sealing. It depends a lot on haw fast you can get your fingerprints and notarizations done. I wrote extensively on this in How Long Does a Florida Expungement Take because other attorneys were making ridiculously short claims.
There is no exact answer to this question. Once ordered the Clerk of Court must execute the order. However, if court costs are due, those must be paid first. Agencies that are affected by the order must execute it once notice has been given to them. The time it takes to do all of these things is not precise.
Yes. You do not have to live in the State of Florida to have a Florida criminal arrest record sealed or expunged. You do not even have to live within the country. Millions of people each year visit Florida. People get arrested while visiting Florida and then return home. The law applies to everyone.
By looking on the Florida Online Statutes you will be able to look up each statute. The expungement statute is in chapter 943, section 0585 (typically read as section 943.0585, Florida Statutes). The sealing statute is in section 059.
Yes. There are websites that provide some information. These are typically Clerk of Court websites. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s website is also particularly helpful. Be aware that once you start this process, neither agency can help you. I wrote a book called “Erase Your Record” that tries to fill in the gaps for people trying to do this themselves. It can be found on Amazon.
The answer is yes but not all. If the charges were dropped and you otherwise qualify, any felony can be expunged. However, if the charges were not dropped only some felonies can be sealed.
The answer to this is “everything.” Having a criminal record expunged or sealed takes your record off official government websites, makes it a non-public record, and you are legally allowed to deny the arrest ever occurred. These are just a few of the benefits. See my Expungement Benefits page for more information.
The answer is yes, however you would have to disclose your record to all potential employers. Because this question is complex, I have written several posts on this subject. Please review Can You Teach with a Record, An Arrest, a Background Check, and Your Job, Level 1 and Level 2 Background Checks, and Your Criminal Record and Your Job.
Any offense that you were arrested for can be expunged provided that all charges were dropped, dismissed, or found not guilty after a trial, and you have never had a previous arrest record expunged or sealed in Florida, and you have never been adjudicated guilty (convicted) of a criminal offense in Florida.
Any offense can be sealed except those specified in section 943.0584. Those offenses cannot be sealed, even if adjudication was withheld. These are listed on FDLE’s website and I written about sexually motivated offenses.
Many of the benefits are the same but there are minor differences. For example, an expunged record must be destroyed while a sealed record is made confidential. Both are no longer public records. See differences between sealing and expungement.
The short answer is “no.” Your criminal history never disappears, however, some employers only look back in your history “so many years” and, therefore, it seems the record has disappeared or gone away.
Florida law allows for one arrest, or series of arrests for the same bad act, to be expunged or sealed. This would include all offenses that were charged for that arrest. You can expunge a juvenile arrest and still expunge an adult arrest under certain circumstances.
The rule is “no” you don’t have to disclose a record that has been expunged or sealed under Florida law. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule that you need to know. For more information see “entitled entities” on FDLE’s Expunge Section website.
Florida law does not require a waiting period before you can move to expunge or seal your record. You must have completed all requirements of the court, to include any probation, but as soon as the case has been resolved you can start.
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