It means you're not convicted of a crime. It will stay on the records until such time as you pay a lawyer to seal any record of the case, assuming you're eligible for a sealing. contact a Ft. Pierce area AVVO lawyer for a fee quote. It will be money very well spent.
The "withhold of adjudication" has different implications in different contexts. In some instances the state or federal government can treat a w/h as if the person had previously been convicted. At the state level, for example, a w/h for DWLSR with knowledge will qualify as a predicate for an habitual offender revocation. At the federal level the w/h will still earn points under the federal sentencing guidelines; and ICE can consider a w/h as grounds for an adverse immigration action.
At the very least Florida law does not bind the federal system or other states. The benefits of a w/h are substantial, but not necessarily as great as sometimes advertised. Indeed, you could lose your w/h classification if you should be found in violation of probation.
Yes, you can move to seal your petit theft w/h, but only if you qualify. If you pled no contest or guilty, or were found guilty, of any other criminal offense anywhere, you would not be eligible for a sealing. Even if you can seal it, you will not be eligible to expunge it until 10 years after the case has been sealed. It is the expungement, not the sealing, which would allow you to lawfully deny the arrest under certain circumstances. Even then, you could not deny the expunged case to law enforcement, national security agencies and specified administrative agencies.
I regularly seek withholds for my clients and, when possible, obtain sealing or expungement orders. I think that these procedures are the most our system offers to try and put minor offenders back on track.
Adjudication withheld means you are not convicted. It will stay there forever unless you have your record sealed or expunged. Here is the FDLE website link on sealing/expunging: http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/content/getdoc/c83dd888-ef7a-448e-9a96-ba69fc4181f7/Seal-and-Expunge-Home.aspx.
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