In today’s day and age, having a reasonable expectation of privacy is something that is almost non-existent. Access to all kinds of information including criminal charges is possible over the internet, and thanks to the growing influence of social media, bad news can spread around like wildfire. If you or someone you know was charged with a crime, you may want to consider getting your criminal record sealed or expunged. An expunged or sealed criminal record does not generally show up on a criminal background check, with a few exceptions. This will make it possible for you to have somewhat of a fresh start in life and get back on track. A Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer can help get your life back on track by applying to seal or expunge your criminal record. Read on to learn more about how the process works and what exactly a Broward criminal lawyer can do for you.
Difference Between Sealing and Expunging a Criminal Record
Before we dive in to the details, lets clear up what the difference is between sealing and expunging a criminal record:
- Sealing a criminal record means exactly what it sounds like – your previous record is “sealed” and cannot be accessed by prospective employers or banks except for a few law enforcement agencies and federal or state organizations. In order to view what’s inside the records, an organization would have to get permission from a judge, and prove why the contents of the record must be de-sealed for the greater public good – which is not always easy to do.
- Expunging a criminal record means that your slate is literally wiped clean and you get a fresh start. If anyone – including a law enforcement officer – conducts a criminal background check, it will be as if your record never existed. In most cases, expunged records do not legally exist anymore. However, it is important to point out that in some cases, your record may still appear on a state or federal database where the notice of your record being expunged has not been received or implemented.
Access to Sealed or Expunged Records
A person must provide access to records if he or she has been charged with a crime in certain circumstances. A person must also provide a full criminal history background check under state and federal law if he or she is purchasing a firearm.
A similar declaration may be required for employment or admission to the following agencies:
- A criminal justice agency
- The Florida Bar
- Department of Children and Family Services
- Department of Education
- Division of Vocational Rehabilitation within the Department of Education
- District School Board
- University Laboratory School
- Government entity that licenses child care facilities
- Agency for Health Care Administration
- Agency for Persons with Disabilities
- Department of Health,
- Department of Elderly Affairs
- Department of Juvenile Justice
- Any employment or contact work or licensing that puts them in direct contact with children, the disabled, or the elderly.
The Law on Sealing or Expunction of a Criminal Record in Florida
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement deals with requests for sealing or expunction of a criminal record. Under Florida statutes, in order to be eligible to request expunction of a criminal record, a person must:
- Be acquitted of all charges by a judge or jury at a trial; or
- Have the charges filed against them dismissed by the Office of the State’s Attorney for any number of reasons; or
- Not have any charges filed against them (No Action) after being arrested and/or released
Furthermore, for sealing a record it is necessary to have an adjudication withheld in the event you took a plea or went to trial, meaning that the court must have withheld any conviction against you. For all of these purposes, it is helpful to have an experienced Broward criminal lawyer on your side.
Applying for Eligibility to Petition to Seal or Expunge a Criminal Record
In accordance with Florida statutes section 943 subsections 0585 and 059, a person who wants to seal or expunge their criminal record must apply for a certificate of eligibility with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. In order to obtain a certificate of eligibility, applicants must submit:
- An application that has been completed and signed in the presence of a notary public;
- Include a fingerprint form along with the application. The fingerprints must have been taking by approved law enforcement personnel or a criminal justice agency.
- Provide a certified disposition of the case that is being forwarded in order to be sealed or expunged from the Clerk of the County
- A letter of completion from the relevant State Attorney’s office may also be required in certain cases involving termination of probation, pre-trial intervention or other diversion.
- Completion of an application form by a state attorney or statewide prosecutor for expunction (otherwise the record will only be sealed and not expunged)
As you can probably guess, completing an application with all of the above is no easy task. Having a Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney on your team can really help speed things up. You can also be assured that your attorney will follow the regulations required in order to have your application processed without any undue delay.
Having a criminal record follow you around is a major deal breaker for jobs, education, and even personal relationships. A Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney can help fix all of that by filing a petition to seal or expunge your criminal history. A qualified Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney who is experienced in handling such matters will firmly commit to help get your life back on track. The help of a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer will help restore some sense of peace and calm in your life. Call our office now for a free consultation and see how the attorneys at Pagan & Stroleny, P.L. can help you, (954) 256-1464.