If the charges were ultimately dropped, you may be eligible to completely expunge your record (basically, have them tear it up). This includes dropped charges after the completion of Diversion or Deferred Prosecution programs. If you got a withhold of adjudication, you may be eligible to seal your record. Your record must remain sealed 10 years before possibly becoming eligible to have it expunged. If you have ever been convicted of a criminal offense, Florida will not let you do a seal or expunge. This includes many criminal traffic offenses such as DUI or attaching an invalid tag.
The process is complicated from this point on. You will likely want to consult an attorney who can guide you through the process if you are eligible for a Seal or Expunge.
Get certified copies of the disposition of your case (cases)
These can be obtained from the local Clerk of Courts, and must be certified.
Get the appropriate State Attorney to sign off on the application
After you fill out the application from FDLE, the appropriate State Attorney must sign and certify the statement regarding eligibility.
This is another area that an attorney can be extremely helpful to carry out the process for you. If you don't have an attorney, inquire at the local State Attorney's office for their procedure to submit the form for approval.
Use the provided fingerprint form and get your prints done through your local Sheriff or Police Department. Call ahead to find out times and locations that they provide fingerprinting services.
Send the completed application to FDLE with filing fee
Submit the completed application, which must include;
a. Your notarized signature,
b. The certification from the State Attorney,
c. Certified copies of the case dispositions,
and d. the Filing fee ($75 at the time of this writing) via cashier's check.
FDLE will review the application and send back a Certificate of Eligibility, if you are approved.
Petition the Court
You must file a Petition with the court which had jurisdiction over your case to ask the court for relief. Each Petition must be accompanied by:
1. the valid Certificate of Eligibility from FDLE, and
2. An affidavit from the Petitioner (you), which must be sworn to that attests that you have:
(a.) never been adjudicated guilty or delinquent to a criminal offense,
(b.) not be adjudicated guilty of the acts for this event
(c.) have never previously been given a seal or expunge
(d.) and is eligible to the best of your knowledge for a seal or expunge
Again, this is a portion that an attorney can be most helpful to complete.
Have a hearing before a judge on the Petition
It is ultimately up to a judge whether to grant the seal or expunge. A hearing will need to be set. After the Petition is filed, the hearing can be requested through the clerk or the judge's office (judicial assistant), depending on the local custom. It is also a good idea to bring a draft order to the judge for him to sign if the Petition is granted. An attorney can be extremely helpful for this part.
Pay any Clerk's fee
The Clerk my require a fee to process the Seal or Expunge. At the time of this writing, the fee in Lee County is appox. $42.00.
Additional resources provided by the author
The FDLE has a resource page that has checklists and FAQs, in addition the application packet.
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