Long after the punishment for a crime has passed, a criminal record will continue to affect your professional and personal life. Even if your case was dismissed, there is still a public record of your arrest. The good news is that you may be eligible to wipe the slate clean and get a fresh start. In some cases, it is possible to have your record sealed or expunged.
As criminal defense attorneys, we see how devastating a criminal record can be on a daily basis. We are glad to be able to help clients move forward without the dark cloud of a record hanging over their heads. We can help you navigate the highly technical process of expungement and record sealing, saving you time, money, and stress. The last thing you want to do in a job interview or college application is to explain an arrest that happened in your past. Our Fort Walton Beach attorneys can help you achieve that.
Conditions for Criminal Record Expungement and Sealing in Florida
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 sealed criminal records
- 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 this certificate, 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
- A sworn statement verifying that you have never been found guilty of any of the offenses listed under Florida Statute § 943.059.
Charges Ineligible for Record Sealing or Expungement
There are some charges that are not eligible for a record seal or expungement. Examples of these charges include:
- Aggravated assault
- Aggravated battery
- Sexual battery
- Sexual acts against a child
- Lewdness in the presence of a child
- Drug trafficking
- Home invasion
- Human trafficking
- Domestic violence
While the charges listed above are not eligible if you pled guilty, any arrest can be expunged if your case was dismissed, including the ones listed above.
The Benefits of Sealing or Expunging a Criminal Record
In the case of a record seal, Florida 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 a record expungement, all records of your arrest will be erased. This will allow you to legally deny that the arrest or conviction ever occurred, except under very specific legal circumstances.
Schedule a Consultation to Discuss Your Case With Our Record Sealing and Expungement Attorneys
As Fort Walton Beach criminal defense lawyers, we can help you clear your record of a past mistake, allowing you to move forward with your life. To discuss whether you qualify to have your criminal or driving record expunged or sealed, call Flaherty & Merrifield at 850-374-6273 or complete our contact form today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation.