Can I Get My Criminal Record Expunged?
If you have been entangled in the criminal justice system through an arrest or actual criminal charges, you may have heard about “expungements.” What is an expungement? It’s a process where someone’s criminal record is erased or removed completely.
There are many benefits to an expungement, especially as it pertains to housing and employment. For anyone who has been caught up with the wrong side of the law to any extent, it is beneficial for them to have their criminal record expunged if they qualify.
How Do I Get My Criminal Record Expunged?
The laws that specifically address expungement can be found in Sections 943.0585 and 943.059 of the Florida Statutes. If you are interested in expunging your adult or juvenile criminal record history, first you’ll need to apply to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) for a Certificate of Eligibility.
When someone is issued a Certificate of Eligibility, it does not guarantee that their criminal record history will be sealed or expunged. The granting of sealing or expungement is handled on a case-by-case basis and it is solely at the court’s discretion.
The good news is that there are several ways or “types” of criminal record sealings and expungements in Florida. Some of these include an administrative expungement, court-ordered sealing and expungement, juvenile diversion expungement, lawful self-defense expungement, human trafficking expungement, automatic juvenile expungement, and early juvenile expungement.
With a court-ordered sealing or expungement, for example, someone can apply to the FDLE for the Certificate of Eligibility to seal or expunge their criminal record. This is the first step in the process and it is required by law before the applicant can do anything else. Before the Certificate of Eligibility is issued, the FDLE has to determine that the applicant is eligible to petition the court for a sealing or expungement.
If you are interested in sealing or expunging your Florida criminal history record, I invite you to contact my firm directly. I’d be happy to answer your questions, discuss your eligibility, and explain the benefits of having an expungement.