Sealing and Expunging Records in Florida
Orlando Seal and Expunge Attorney Helps Clients in Central Florida
The sealing or expunging of records has become much more prevalent in recent years, since so many potential employers use background checks when considering employment applications. This is also partly due to the increase in background checks in general that came on the heels of the September 11 attacks of 2001. The bottom line is that, whether rightly or wrongly, people are being judged for any criminal record they may have. The Orlando Seal and expunge attorney at the Law Offices of David P. Hill have handled hundreds of petitions to seal and expunge records for their clients, and can help give you the information you need to know as to whether you may be eligible to have your records sealed or expunged.
Difference Between Sealing and Expunging
If one’s criminal records are ordered sealed by a judge, following a petition to seal records being filed on that person’s behalf, it means that they still exist at the clerk of court for the county where the offense was prosecuted, but cannot be released to anyone in the general public, including potential employers. Expunging of records means that the records of the offense in question, and any records of the associated arrest, are actually destroyed at the clerk’s office, the sheriff’s office, and also at the jail where the person may have been booked upon arrest.
Eligibility For Sealing Or Expunging
- Withhold of Adjudication: In order to get your records sealed, the judge presiding over your case would have to have withheld adjudication of guilt. This means that at sentencing the judge did not adjudicate you guilty of the offense. If you have a conviction for an offense, or in other words were “adjudicated guilty” by the judge, you would not be eligible to have your records sealed.
- No Prior sealings or expunging of your records: Also, you can only get a criminal record sealed (or expunged) one time in the State of Florida. This can sometimes be an important consideration – if you get a relatively minor charge (perhaps a misdemeanor) and you get the record of it sealed or expunged, you can never get a later (possibly more serious) charge sealed or expunged. Once in a lifetime is all that the law allows.
- Some Offenses Excluded by Statute: By statute, some offenses cannot be sealed, whether the sentencing judge withheld adjudication of guilt or not, including: offenses committed by public officers or employees, sex offenses (including possession of child pornography), some fraud offenses, drug trafficking offenses, and domestic violence battery (NOTE: non domestic battery – meaning battery not between spouses or individuals living in the same household – IS possible to have sealed).
- Multiple Offenses under one arrest: The Court has discretion to seal the records of more than one offense or arrest if they were charged out of the same arrest or relate back to the same arrest.
- Charge Dropped, Dismissed, or previously Sealed for 10 years: To be eligible for expunging of criminal records, the original charge must have either been dismissed by the court, dropped by the State of Florida, or have previously been sealed for ten years. If you go to court and plead to a charge and are sentenced by a judge, even if the judge withholds adjudication of guilt, at that point you are only eligible for the sealing, not expunging of your criminal records.
- No Prior Expunging of your records: You cannot get your criminal history records expunged if you have ever gotten it done before – like sealing, the statutes only allow for expunging once in a lifetime.
- Specific offenses not permitted for expunging: The same offenses (and others) mentioned under Sealing Eligibility above are excluded from consideration for expunging if the person originally charged pled guilty or no contest to the charges; however, if any charge of any kind was dismissed by a judge, or dropped by the State of Florida, they are then eligible for expunction.
- Multiple Offenses under one arrest: The Court has discretion to expunge the records of more than one offense or arrest if they were charged out of the same arrest or relate back to the same arrest.
Discretion Of The Court
Unlike many legal proceedings under our criminal justice system, a person who petitions a judge to seal or expunge their criminal records does not have the right to appeal the judge if the petition is denied. It is totally up to the judge whether to grant the petition or not, and as long as they give a person the right to present their reasons as to why the request should be granted, the judge cannot be appealed for denials of those requests.
Contact our Central Florida Seal and Expunge Lawyer
The Law Offices of David P. Hill have helped many clients get their records sealed or expunged. It is helpful to know all the ins and outs of what can and cannot be sealed versus expunged, and to have an experienced criminal defense attorney help in presenting a petition to a judge for consideration. Please call Orlando Defense Attorney David P. Hill to set up a consultation on this area of criminal defense law. It is important to try to do whatever you can to put any history of contact with the criminal justice system behind you – let us help. We offer a free initial consultation and will keep your information confidential. Send us an email at email@example.com or call us today at (407) 648-0006. We have an emergency service available 24 hours a day. We value your privacy and will keep your information confidential.