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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Criminal Defense / Can A Florida Domestic Violence Conviction Be Expunged?

Can A Florida Domestic Violence Conviction Be Expunged?


In Florida, there is no specific crime of domestic violence. Rather, the presence of domestic violence in a criminal offense is used as a sentencing enhancement of sorts. This means that domestic violence crimes are not in a category by themselves; rather, they are treated the same way as any other offenses when the question of expungement comes to the fore. Expungement is the act of sealing or destroying a person’s criminal record, and many try to have domestic violence offenses expunged from theirs – but meet with limited success.

Specific Ways To Avoid A Permanent Criminal Record

A domestic violence offense in Florida is defined as any crime that results in physical injury or death to a person who has a particular relationship with the perpetrator (usually a spouse, ex-spouse, unmarried co-parent, or a person who is or has been residing with them ‘as a family’). The statute names several offenses as examples, such as assault, battery, kidnapping, and false imprisonment, but there are others.

Most defendants are primarily fixated on avoiding jail time – and in general, it is possible for a defendant to avoid jail time even if they are not vindicated by a jury. For example, they may be able to plead no contest to a charge, or accept a plea bargain that permits this eventuality. However, it is crucial to know that many of these pleas mean that the domestic violence charges cannot be expunged under Florida law. State law only allows expungement if charges are dropped by the state or dismissed due to a not guilty verdict.

The Right Attorney Can Help

The fact that Florida’s law sees domestic violence as an umbrella classification of sorts, rather than as an individual crime, means that crimes of domestic violence cannot be expunged because the conviction for the underlying offense – for example, battery or kidnapping – cannot be erased. The state legislature defines certain offenses as particularly dangerous, and explicitly forbids their expungement.

If you are at the part of the legal process where charges have not yet been filed, it is imperative to enlist an attorney and act fast – it may be possible, depending on the facts of your case, to negotiate with the state’s attorney. You may be able to go through a pretrial diversion program, or plead to a charge that has no domestic violence connotations, with the right legal help and the right timing. Failure to do so can affect your entire life after the fact.

Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney

If you have been charged with a crime of domestic violence, it is important to be aware not only of the present, but also of the potential impact on your future. A West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney from the firm of Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help you figure out your best path going forward. Call our office today to speak to an attorney.

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