Can I Expunge My Record?
This guide should take you through the process to expunge a criminal case in Florida.
Do I Qualify for an Expungement?First you have to figure out if you qualify for an expungement in the first place. If you don't figure this out first you will waste a lot of time and money doing something that serves no purpose.
For expungements its very simple. If you have never been convicted of any crime and the case that you want to expunge was dismissed (whether through a "nolle prosse" or a "no information filing") then you qualify for an expungement. It is as simple as that.
How to Apply?To start the process you must apply to FDLE for a Certificate of Eligibility to Seal or Expunge your criminal history record. This application can be found on the FDLE's website. Before issuing the certificate of eligibility, FDLE determines if you are statutorily eligible to petition the court to have your Florida criminal history record sealed or expunged based on your record.
If your application is for an expungement, rather than a sealing, you will need to first send that application to the state attorney's office that handled your case so that they can fill out "Section B". You will end up sending the application to FDLE with your fingerprints and a certified disposition from your case.
FDLE will charge you $75.00 to process the application and then get back to you in anywhere from 6 months to a year. All you can do is wait at that point.
What Do I Do With The Certificate of Eligibility?This is the most complicated part of the process, and where you may find that you need an attorney to complete the process.
Under Florida Law, you have to file a petition in the case you seek to expunge, along with an affidavit stating that you have never had a previous case expunged, that your case was dismissed in some way and that your criminal record allows for an expungement. The Petition is a legal pleading whereby you ask the Court to erase a criminal record. You will also have to reach out to the prosecutor for their position on your petition. An attorney will be able to do this very easily and quickly. For a pro se litigant it can be almost impossible.
If the prosecutor does not object, you will have to send a proposed order to the judge. This has to have very specific language in it and you will most likely have to have an attorney draft it. It will also state which agencies are obligated to erase your criminal record, which is very important. Once the judge receives a proper order he will usually sign it without a hearing. If you do leave some agency out, then the Court wont be able to force that agency to erase your records without you having to amend the order. For instance, if the order states that the Orange County Sheriff's Office must erase your arrest record, but you were arrested by the Orlando Police Department, this order wont help you in any way.
If there is an objection from the State Attorney based on any legal ground, I strongly recommend you seek legal counsel.