Fort Walton Beach Record Expungement & Record Sealing Lawyers
Long after the punishment for a crime has passed, a criminal record will continue to affect your professional and personal life. However, it is critical to note that criminal records are not only kept on individuals who have been actually convicted of a crime; individuals who have been arrested in Fort Walton Beach, even falsely, on suspicion of a crime will also carry an official criminal record. What’s more is that a criminal record is public and is likely to show up in a background search. Fortunately, there are two processes by which an individual may either clear or keep private their criminal record: expungement and record sealing.
A Fort Walton Beach expungement lawyer at Flaherty Defense Firm can help you navigate the highly technical process of expungement and record sealing, saving you time, money, and stress. The last thing you need to do in a job interview or college application is to explain an arrest that happened in your past; a successful record sealing or expungement can ensure that you never have to relive that difficult time in your life.
Conditions for Criminal Records Expungement & Sealing
The first order of business in expunging or sealing a Fort Walton Beach criminal record is to submit an application to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). The FDLE will then utilize the following criteria to determine your eligibility to pursue either of these processes. Individuals are only eligible if they:
- Have no previous expungements or criminal records sealing
- Have no delinquency or adjudicated delinquency for certain juvenile charges (Fla. Stat. § 943.059)
- Are not taking part in a court ordered diversion or supervision program
- Have never been convicted of a crime, including misdemeanors, in any jurisdiction
If eligible, you will receive a certificate of eligibility from the FDLE. With the certificate of eligibility, you may file a petition for record sealing or expungement that includes: a sworn statement verifying that you are eligible for the sealing or expungement of your record and a sworn statement verifying that you have never been found guilty of any of the offenses listed under Florida Statute § 943.059.
Intending to better educate you of your options when pursuing record sealing or expungement in Fort Walton Beach, we have collected the following information:
- Exceptions to Criminal Record Expungement & Sealing
- Expunging Driving Offenses
The benefits of record sealing are extensive. In the case of record sealing, Fort Walton Beach criminal justice agencies will no longer be allowed to disclose information regarding your arrest to a third party, like a potential employer or college admissions office—though certain government agencies and licensing agencies will still have access to it when required. With record expungement, any and all record of your arrest will be erased. This will allow you to legally deny that the arrest or conviction ever occurred, save under very specific legal circumstances.
Juvenile Record Sealing and Expungement
While anyone stands to benefit significantly from having their criminal record sealed or expunged, juveniles in particular can benefit greatly from these processes. Because of their age, young people who have an offense on their criminal records stand to suffer from the effects of this offense for a substantial amount of time. Additionally, having an offense listed on a young person’s criminal record could have effects on that person’s educational opportunities.
Fortunately, many Fort Walton Beach juveniles are given the opportunity to complete a diversion program, and when that program is completed, they can have their records sealed or expunged. However, juveniles who complete a diversion program only have a year to try and have their records sealed or expunged, otherwise they’ll have to wait until they are 18 years old.
Contact a Fort Walton Beach Record Expungement & Sealing Lawyer
At Flaherty Defense Firm, Fort Walton Beach record sealing and expungement lawyer Tim Flaherty can help you clear your record of a past mistake or unwarranted arrest and allow you to move forward with your life. To discuss whether you qualify to have your criminal or driving record expunged or sealed with our team, please call our Fort Walton Beach offices at (850) 243-6097 today.
Record Sealing and Expungement Resources
Record Sealing & Expungement FAQS
What is the difference between record sealing and expungement?
You may seek record sealing or expungement in order to remove access to an element of your criminal record. Although these topics are often discussed together, they do not have the same effect on your criminal record. When a charge is sealed, the general public does not have access to it, but some government departments still have access to the full record. This information may be viewed during and impact your candidacy for employment at a government agency, attempt to purchase a firearm, or licensing under associations such as the Florida Bar or department of education. Expungement, on the other hand, removes and destroys all information about the charge, but may still inform viewers that the record has been expunged.
What charges can be sealed or expunged?
You may seal or expunge different elements of your criminal record, including arrests, charges, and case dispositions. However, expungement or record sealing is only allowed for some types of criminal information. Some of the most common types of sealing and expungement include administrative, in which an arrest was made by mistake; court-ordered, when you petition the court the remove your criminal record; or lawful self-defense, in which the court determines you used justifiable force. Additionally, juvenile criminal history may be expunged automatically at a certain age, after completion of a diversion program, or before the age of 21 if you create a petition to the court. Petitions to the court to seal or expunge a record may require you to complete a certificate of eligibility before they will review your case.
Do I need an attorney to get my record sealed or expunged?
Although you are not required to have an attorney in order to seal or expunge your record, legal counsel will often make this process simpler and more likely to be successful. This is often a long and complex process that requires significant legal knowledge to complete. It is important that you follow all of the steps required before you petition your case before the court, and create a strong case in your favor. Tim Flaherty’s extensive legal experience at Flaherty Defense Firm will help to have the best possible chance to clear your record and allow you to move forward with your life. To discuss the specifics of your case contact us at (850) 243-6097 today.