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Can I Expunge A Florida Domestic Violence Conviction?
The American Bar Association defines ‘expungement’ as the process by which a criminal record is either destroyed entirely, or sealed from both the court record and public view. Basically, an expunged record is treated as though it was never created, which can give someone a new lease on life. That said, not everyone is eligible to have their record expunged – it must have come into being in a very specific way. If you have been charged with or convicted of domestic violence, it is important you understand your options going forward.
Seen As A Particularly Egregious Offense
Florida’s definition of domestic violence differs significantly from those in some other states. It encompasses any criminal act that results in physical injury or death, committed by a “family or household member” against another family household member. A ‘family or household member’ is not only a spouse, but also an ex-spouse, a co-parent of a minor child, or anyone with whom the person is residing (or used to reside) as a family. If you are involved in a physical altercation with someone, you may not even be aware that you are committing domestic violence at the time, but the law thinks otherwise.
Domestic violence is seen as a societal offense, and falls under the category of dangerous offenses. Because of this, domestic violence offenses generally cannot be expunged or sealed in Florida. This type of offense is seen as not only harming the victim, but potentially society as well – while many who commit domestic violence may never reoffend, many do, and for those that do, they tend to repeat the types of crimes they have committed before.
There May Be Options
With very rare exceptions, if one pleads guilty or ‘nolo contendere’ (a plea where the defendant accepts punishment but explicitly does not admit to the alleged crime), they cannot expunge that conviction from their record in Florida, even if adjudication was withheld. Any admittance of the facts of the alleged crime torpedoes your chance at expungement. However, you may be able to work with your attorney to guide your case toward one of the other possible outcomes for this type of matter, as there are other ways that your case can end besides ‘innocent’ or ‘guilty.’
The most common outcomes of this kind all involve avoiding either conviction, as one might imagine, or the ‘domestic’ nature of the crime not being taken into account. For example, a common method to avoid a conviction one cannot expunge is to plead to a “non-domestic” charge like disorderly conduct. Alternatively, if this is your first offense, you may be eligible for a pre-trial diversion program, which essentially drops your charges if you complete anger management and other probationary programs. Conviction and non-expungement are not the only options for you.
Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney
Domestic violence is a complex type of crime, with varying degrees of severity and potential outcomes. If you have been charged with domestic violence, it is crucial that you enlist an experienced West Palm Beach criminal attorney to help you get through the legal process. Without help, you may wind up with a permanent scar on your criminal record, which can affect the rest of your life. Call the firm of Perlet & Shiner, P.A. at 561-721-0552 to speak to an attorney today.