Expungement in Florida
Expungement is the legal process by which a person’s criminal history record is erased, but only if that person was not convicted. Expungement means that a person’s record is no longer available to the public. When a background check is performed in some states, the record of expungement is clear, but in Florida, a statement in the file indicates that the record was expunged and nothing else. Because the expungement process can be complicated, it is best to hire a qualified expungement attorney in Florida. He or she will be able to make the expungement process very simple and error-free. An expungement will not be granted if an error is made in an application.
Even though a file is technically “erased,” an expunged file is not physically destroyed. The file is kept on hand in case of specific circumstances, such as running for public office, enlistment in the United States military, or use as a prior offense in a new criminal case. Even if a record is expunged, it can still be used to strengthen new charges. After expungement is granted, an individual can legally state that he or she never committed the crime and confirm this in paperwork and, if necessary, in court.
Sealing of Florida Records
Sealed records are not the same as expunged records. Expunged records are not accessible to the general public or law enforcement agencies. Only the general public has access to sealed records. This means that the public will not have access to any sealed record, regardless of whether the search is for employment, professional licensing, grant applications, or credit. Only certain government officials, as defined by Florida Statutes, will have access to a sealed criminal record after it has been sealed. According to the crime or crimes committed in the past, some individuals may be eligible for record sealing but not record expungement.
Expungements are petitioned to the court where the case was originally tried using the proper paperwork. All relevant information about the case must be included. Because expungement is a privilege rather than a right in the United States, including the state of Florida, an expungement petition can be denied. Before making a decision, the judge will consider several factors, including whether the person has had any other charges, whether the person has been of assistance to society since the crime, whether granting expungement will benefit society, whether any previous convictions have occurred since, and others. If an expungement is found not to be in the best interests of the court, the petition will be denied.
Eligibility for Expungement
Those who are eligible for expungement, on the other hand, are few. According to Florida law, an arrest record may be expunged if the person was acquitted of all charges or if the court withheld adjudication after the arrest. Those who have been pardoned may also apply for record erasure.