Written by attorney Jonathan Michael Palma

A Quick Guide to Sealing or Expungement Criminal Records in Florida

If you have ever been arrested, you may now realize that the criminal arrest record arising from your arrest can cause you problems in employment, housing, and other situations when a Florida criminal background check is done. Even in cases where the charges have been dropped or the judge withheld an adjudication of guilt, the criminal record may still be causing you problems.

If you qualify, sealing or expunging your criminal arrest records can allow you to move on with your life and truly put your past arrest behind you. Once the sealing or expungement of your Florida criminal record is granted by the court, the withhold of adjudication or dismissal of your felony or misdemeanor criminal charge will no longer be available as a public record. Also, in most situations, if you seal or expunge the Florida criminal record, you can legally deny or fail to acknowledge the arrest and the legal proceedings from the case itself.

Most often the question we get from our prospective clients is "What is the difference between the two?"

When a court enters an Order of Expungement the criminal history record must be physically destroyed or obliterated by any criminal justice agency having custody of such record.

When a court enters an Order of Sealing the criminal history record becomes confidential and exempt from public record and will be made available only to the person who is the subject of the record, to the subject's attorney, to criminal justice agencies for their respective criminal justice purposes, or to certain types of entities for purposes of application for licensing and employment purposes.

To apply for either a Sealing or an Expungement you must first begin by making application for a certificate of Eligability to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. This application can be easily downloaded from the Department's website at . Once an application had been downloaded i would recommend seeking consultation from an experienced criminal attorney familiar with the sealing/expungement application process.

Additional resources provided by the author

Florida Department of Law Enforcement website: Florida Statute 943.0585 Court-Ordered expunction of criminal records Florida Statute 943.059 Court-Ordered sealing of criminal history records

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