What is the difference between having a criminal history record sealed or expunged?
When your criminal history record is sealed, the public will not have access to it. However, certain governmental or related entities will have access to your sealed record.
When your record has been expunged, those entities which would have access to your sealed record will be informed that the subject of the record has had a record expunged but would not have access to the record itself without a court order. All those entities would be provided with is a statement indicating that "Criminal Information has been Expunged from this Record."
The first step is to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE)
The first step to having your criminal history sealed or expunged is to request a Certificate of Eligibility from FDLE. FDLE provides applications for Certification of Eligibility to the Clerk of Courts in all 67 counties in the State of Florida. The application packages may be obtained from the criminal division within each county courthouse. If you reside outside the State of Florida, you may request that an application package be mailed to you.
You may want to request a copy of your criminal history record before you obtain the application for the Certificate of Eligibility to ensure that your criminal history is accurate and complete. Under Florida and federal law, you have the right to request a copy of your criminal history. This process is known as Personal Review. You may challenge any information contained within you record that you believe to be inaccurate or incomplete. No charge is assessed by FDLE for this service.
What information must be included in the Certificate of Eligibility?
In order to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility to petition the court to seal or expunge a criminal history record, the following requirements must be met:
(1) You must complete Section A of the application and sign it in the presence of a notary public;
(2) You must be fingerprinted by authorized law enforcement personnel;
(3) You must provide a certified disposition of the case that you are seeking to have sealed or expunged;
(4) You must include a non-refundable money order or cashiers check for $75.00 made payable to FDLE with your application; and
(5) If you are requesting an expunction of a criminal history record, the State Attorney or Statewide Prosecutor with jurisdiction over your case must complete Section B of your application (if Section B is not completed, the application will be processed as a sealing of your criminal history record).
How long does it take to receive a response from my application for a Certificate of Eligibility?
It will take you approximately 30 working days or less from the date the application is received, processed and mailed back to you.
What type of background check is conducted by FDLE to determine my eligibility to have a criminal history sealed or expunged?
FDLE will check your criminal history in Florida through the Florida Crime Information Center (FCIC), national record checks through the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), and driving history checks through the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). FDLE checks these databases to determine your eligibility to have a criminal history record sealed or expunged.
What do I do with my Certificate of Eligibility once I get it?
Once FDLE has issued the Certificate of Eligibility to seal or expunge a criminal history record, the next step is to file a petition for relief, along with the Certificate of Eligibility and the required affidavit, in the court in the county of the arrest. The issuance of the Certificate of Eligibility is not the final step in the sealing/expunging process, nor does it guarantee that a criminal history record will be sealed or expunged. The final decision to seal or expunge your criminal history record rests in the sound discretion of the court.
If the record is eligible and the court grants relief, FDLE will comply with the certified court order and seal or expunge the appropriate criminal history record. Once FDLE seals or expunges the criminal history record, a notification letter will be sent by FDLE to the arresting agency or agencies involved with your case. The notification letter is to inform the agencies that FDLE has received and has complied with the order.
What charges may not be sealed?
Please refer to Fla. Stat. 943.059 for a list of criminal charges that may not be sealed when adjudication has been withheld.
Additionally, if you have been adjudicated guilty of any criminal offense in any jurisdiction (or adjudicated delinquent for any felony or for certain specified misdemeanors), whether or not related to the charge(s) that the person is applying for, the record is ineligible for sealing and the application will be denied.
What charges may be expunged?
The same eligibility requirements which apply to sealing also apply to expunction with certain additional requirements. Any charge, which resulted in a withholding of adjudication or in an acquittal (not guilty verdict) after trial, may not be expunged unless and until it has first been sealed for at least 10 years. A charge which was dismissed before trial may be expunged immediately provided all charges related to the arrest were so disposed or, and the record is otherwise eligible.
How many dates of arrest can I have sealed or expunged?
To be eligible to have a criminal history record sealed or expunged you must be able to attest that you have never previously had a record sealed or expunged in Florida or in another jurisdiction. This means that you may only seal or expunge one arrest record in one proceeding. More than one record may be sealed or expunged in the same proceeding if the court, in its sole discretion, finds the arrests to be directly related.
Our Rating is calculated using information the lawyer has included on their profile in addition to the information we collect from state bar associations and other organizations that license legal professionals. Attorneys who claim their profiles and provide Avvo with more information tend to have a higher rating than those who do not.
What determines Avvo Rating?
Experience & background
Years licensed, work experience, education
Legal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awards
Legal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagements
This lawyer was disciplined by a state licensing authority in .
Disciplinary information may not be comprehensive, or updated. We recommend that you always check a lawyer's disciplinary status with their respective state bar association before hiring them.