Whenever you look for a job, buy a house, take out student loans, or apply to college, someone checks your criminal record. If you have such a record in Florida, that simple mistake can come back to haunt you for years.
Fortunately, there is hope. By taking advantage of expungement and sealing laws (officially called “expunction” and “sealing”), people with past convictions can move forward with their lives.
Here is a broad exploration of how someone with a criminal past can benefit from expungement and sealing in Florida.
The Difference Between Criminal Expungement and Criminal Sealing in Florida
Expungement completely erases your criminal record. It is available only for certain misdemeanor offenses.
Sealing limits who can access your criminal record. Employers, licensing agencies, and law enforcement may still have access to a sealed record. It applies to misdemeanors and some felony convictions.
To be eligible for expungement or sealing, you must first meet certain criteria. For instance, you must complete probation and stay conviction-free for a certain period.
Criteria for Sealing or Expunction in Florida
To be eligible for sealing or expunction in Florida, you must meet certain criteria.
Sealing requirements include:
- No prior adjudications of guilt for any criminal offense or comparable ordinance violation
- No prior adjudications of delinquency (juvenile cases) for any criminal act outlined in Florida Statutes Section 943.051(3)(b)
Expunction requirements include:
- The charges were ultimately dropped, dismissed, or resulted in an acquittal
- The individual has not been adjudicated guilty of any other criminal offense or comparable ordinance violation
Many crimes cannot be sealed or expunged in Florida. These include most violent, sexual, and high-level drug crimes.
The Benefits of Expungement and Sealing
- Better housing options
- More employment opportunities
- Improved eligibility for loans and licenses
Impact of Expungement and Sealing on Future Employment Opportunities in Florida
Once a record has been sealed or expunged, the vast majority of potential employers will not be able to see any criminal history. This is particularly important for job seekers in industries that require background checks, such as healthcare or education.
According to a survey by the Florida Bar Association, 87% of employers would not hire someone with a criminal record.
With a clean slate, people have a greater chance of finding employment and moving forward with their lives.
Alternatives to Expungement and Sealing in Florida
A “certificate of eligibility” can provide relief for certain drug offenses.
Another avenue is “withholding of adjudication,” which means that you still have a criminal conviction, but it won’t appear on your public record.
Getting your record sealed or expunged can be a long, overwhelming process. That's where Law Offices of Jason K.S. Porter, P.A. comes in. With years of experience and a thorough understanding of the legal process, our team is here to guide you every step of the way. You can reach out to our team today for a free consultation. Just fill out our online contact form or call us directly at (904) 701-0591 for a free consultation.