Do you have a criminal record? This can impact your life in many ways, including getting a job, a home, or a loan. Clearing your name is possible by sealing and/or expunging your records. This process is relatively simple for those who are eligible, but it can take months of careful filing to make sure it’s done correctly.
What Is the Difference Between Sealing & Expunging a Criminal Record in Florida?
Technically, sealing and expunging a record do the same thing: both make it unavailable to the public. However, the nuanced differences include that sealing a record only makes it non-public, while the record is still maintained and can be accessed via a court order. In order to erase the record completely, it must be expunged. A record may only be expunged once it has been sealed for 10 years, and the process for both sealing and expunging must be completed with a Certificate of Eligibility from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).
Am I Eligible to Have My Record Sealed?
In order to receive a Certificate of Eligibility from the FDLE, your record must be proven eligible for sealing and expungement. If your case was dismissed or dropped, it can be expunged; if it was not, but the court withheld adjudication, then your record can be sealed and, after the 10-year waiting period, expunged. Most importantly, though, you may only apply to seal/expunge your record once, and you may not be eligible if you have ever been adjudicated guilty of a criminal offense.
Required Disclosure of Records
Sealing or expunging your record presents an opportunity to start over, but there are situations in which you may be required to disclose the information that has been removed.
You may be required to disclose arrests or criminal charges when applying for positions such as:
- State-issued professional license
- Law enforcement or government job
- School-related position
- Buying a firearm or concealed carry permit
- Public office position
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