Expungement is the legal process where an individual may have his or her criminal history record erased, but only if that person was not convicted. Expungement means that an individual's record is no longer accessible to the public. In some states when a background check is made the record of expungement will be clear, but in the state of Florida a statement in the file will indicate that the record was expunged and nothing further. Because the expungement process can be confusing, it is advised to acquire a qualified expungement attorney from the state of Florida. He or she will be able to make the expungement process very simple and leave no room for mistakes. If a mistake in an application is made, an expungement will not be granted.
Even though a filed is called "erased" by definition, an expunged file is not actually destroyed physically. The file is kept on hand for particular circumstances, which include the running for public office, enlistment into the United States military, and the usage as a prior offense in a new criminal case. Even though a record may be expunged, it can still be used to enhance new charges. After expungement has been granted an individual will lawfully be able to state that he or she never committed the crime and confirm so in paperwork and in court, if necessary.
Florida Record Sealing
Sealed records are different from expunged records. Expunged records cannot be accessed by the public or law enforcement agencies. Sealed records cannot be accessed by the public only. This means the public will not have access to any sealed record no matter if a search is made for employment purposes, professional licensing purposes, grant applications or credit purposes. After a record is sealed the only persons who will have access to the sealed criminal record are certain government officials as defined by Florida Statutes. Some individuals may be eligible for a record sealing but not for record expungement according to the crime or crimes of the past.
Expungements are petitioned through the proper paperwork to the court where the case was originally tried. All the information pertaining to the case must be included. Because in the United States, which means the state of Florida, expungement is a privilege and not a right, an expungement petition can be denied. The judge making the granting decision will take several things into account before making a decision: has the person had any other charges, has the person been of assistance to society since the crime, will granting expungement be of benefit to society, have any past convictions taken place since, and others. If an expungement is found not in favor of the court, then the petition will be denied.
Those that are eligible for expungement are few however. Florida law states that an arrest record may be expunged for those who were acquitted of all charges or where the circumstances state that the court withheld adjudication after an arrest. Those pardoned can also apply for record erasure. See also:
Florida Misdemeanors External link (opens in new window)
Florida Felony External link (opens in new window)
Florida Divorce External link (opens in new window)