The effects of a criminal record can be profound. Typically, a criminal record can affect many aspects of one’s personal and professional life. More specifically, a criminal record can impede a person’s educational, employment, and housing possibilities for years to come. Since criminal record information can be accessed by the public unless it’s sealed or expunged, it’s undoubtedly in a person’s best interests to have their records expunged providing they qualify.
But what is an “expungement” exactly? “In law, ‘expungement’ is the process by which a record of criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed from state or federal record. An expungement order directs the court to treat the criminal conviction as if it had never occurred, essentially removing it from a defendant’s criminal record as well as, ideally, the public record,” according to the American Bar Association.
How Do I Have My Record Expunged?
Not everyone is eligible to have their criminal record expunged. Sections 943.0585 and 943.059 of the Florida Statutes explain the criteria that must be met for someone to be eligible for an expungement. If someone wants to apply for an expungement in Florida, they must apply to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) for a Certificate of Eligibility. However, when a Certificate of Eligibility is issued, it does not guarantee the court will order that a criminal record be expunged. Expungements are handled on a case-by-case basis, and at the sole discretion of the court.
“What is the difference between an expunged criminal record and one that is sealed?” When a criminal record is sealed or expunged, it’s not accessible to the public. This is the key difference between a sealed and expunged record:
- When a record is sealed, certain government entities still have access to the entire record.
- When a record is expunged, the same government entities wouldn’t be able to access the record without a court order. If such an entity conducted a search, the response would be, “Criminal History Record Expunged Pursuant to Florida Statues 943,” according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Not all criminal offenses can be expunged, for example, felony convictions and certain misdemeanors are not eligible for expungement. If you’re interested in learning more about expungements in Florida and if you might qualify, contact The Law Offices of Jason K.S. Porter, P.A. today.