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Can My Florida Criminal Record Be Sealed Or Expunged?
If you have a Florida criminal record, it is important to be aware that you may not have to retain that record for the rest of your life, depending on the nature of your crimes. There is a legal procedure called expungement, and it is available to certain people to try and give them a new start in life. If you need assistance in having your record expunged, contacting an attorney is a critical first step.
Is Expungement Easy?
It may sound counter-intuitive, but the people who will have the easiest time getting their record expunged are those who have not been convicted of a crime. For example, someone who had an indictment dismissed, or their case was placed on the nolle prosequi docket would be eligible for expungement as long as they met the other criteria. Generally, the person cannot seek expungement of any crime from their record if the case is still active (such as, the person still being on probation), or if they were convicted of the charge they want to expunge.
Those who have been convicted of a crime will have a much more difficult road toward having their records sealed or expunged, because under Florida law, there are certain crimes that cannot be expunged under any circumstances – examples include any felony or certain misdemeanors such as assault, battery, unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon, or animal cruelty. However, certain other crimes may be expunged if the other criteria are met, or the records may be sealed instead.
While sealing or expungement are both long, often drawn-out processes, in most cases it is well worth the trouble. If you are successful, your criminal record will be at least invisible, if not nonexistent, for anyone who seeks to investigate you. This includes financial organizations, future employers, and in some cases, governmental entities (though some agencies are able to see sealed records). Most who seek to view your record will only be able to do so by court order, and such a court order is very difficult to get.
In order to actually start the process of sealing or expungement, a person must submit an application for a certificate of eligibility with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. If they receive this certificate, they can then actually petition the relevant court to expunge or seal their record – keep in mind that unless you are seeking to expunge a human trafficking related crime, you must file the petition in the same county where you were convicted.
Call A West Palm Beach Expungement Attorney
While expungement and sealing can both take some time, it can go much more smoothly with a knowledgeable attorney on your side. The West Palm Beach expungement lawyers at Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. has handled many of these cases and is happy to handle you today. Contact our offices today to speak to an attorney.