For first-time offenders with cases that have been dismissed, or non-disqualifying charges whereby the accused has received a withhold of adjudication, usually find that their sealing or expunging process goes smoothly. While the entire procedure takes about 4-6 months, they find that at the end, their records are clean and they can move on with their lives.
Sealing and Expungement Issues
Posted By Eric Matheny
However, like in all aspects of criminal defense, sometimes the battle to clean a client's record becomes exactly that. A battle. However, as an experienced criminal defense attorney who seals and expunges criminal records for clients in both Miami-Dade County and Broward County, I am often prepared for what lies ahead. But just so you know, here are some issues that you may face while trying to clear an arrest or withheld adjudication from your record.
1) You Are Trying To Expunge A Recent Arrest But Have A Prior Withhold On Your Record
Imagine that back in the 1980s, you received a withhold of adjudication for an act that would otherwise disqualify you from getting your record cleaned. For instance, you received a withhold of adjudication and probation for your alleged participation in a cocaine trafficking incident.
If you were charged with any of the above-listed crimes but the case was dismissed (nolle prosse, no action, or acquitted at trial), you are eligible to have your record expunged. Click here to find out more about the differences between having your record sealed and expunged.
However, going back to my hypothetical situation, if you received a withhold of adjudication for one of those charges, you cannot have thatcharge taken off your record.
But, if you have been arrested since then and you otherwise qualify, you can have your new charge sealed or expunged so long as it is not a disqualifying offense, and as long as you were not convicted (adjudicated).
In other words, if you were arrested for trafficking in cocaine in 1985, received a withhold of adjudication and were placed on probation, you cannot have this charge taken off of your record. However, if in 2005, you were arrested for domestic battery but the case was dismissed by the State, you would still be eligible to have the 2005 arrest taken off of your record by expungement. This is because you a) do not have any prior convictions; and b) you are not seeking to expunge or seal a non-qualifying offense.
2) You Have A Prior Conviction
If you have ever pleaded no contest to a DUI in the State of Florida, you have a conviction on your record. Unfair as it seems, Florida is a state that requires mandatory convictions on DUIs, even if it is your first offense. For more information on DUI penalties, click here.
If there is a prior conviction on your record, even if it is for a criminal traffic offense such as Driving While License Suspended (DWLS), reckless driving, or No Valid Driver's License (NVDL), you are ineligible to have your record sealed or expunged. Even a subsequent arrest cannot be taken off of your record, even if the new arrest resulted in a dismissal of the charges. It's like the kiss of death when it comes to expungements. A prior conviction will render all future expungement and sealing attempts futile.
Regardless of your arrest history, contact me today to discuss the uniqueness of your expungement or sealing issue. I handle numerous sealing and expungement matters for clients in the Miami and Broward area and am familiar with some of the issues that may arise. My consultations are always free and may be done over the phone, or in person by appointment should you desire.
For the convenience of my clients, most expungement matters can be handled over the phone. Once retained, I can email the entire packet to you, which you can sign, notarize, and return to me by mail. As for my fee, I charge a flat fee of $625.00 for all record sealing or expungement cases. This fee includes the $75.00 application fee paid to FDLE, the $42 filing fee paid to the Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts, or Broward Clerk of Courts, and the $7 cost of ordering a certified disposition of your case. Again, for the sake of convenience, you can pay by credit or debit card. I accept Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express.
Some "expungement firms" will advertise costs of $300 or less. Other attorneys will charge $750 - $1000. I work for myself, by myself, and handle every matter personally. You will not have a law clerk, intern, or paralegal handling your delicate matter. This is your criminal record at stake. This is your ability to one day tell a prospective employer that you have never been arrested. I would not delegate that responsibility to somebody untrained in the law. I consider $625 to be a reasonable fee. It's not the cheapest around, but I am a firm believer that you get what you pay for.
For more information on who may see your criminal record if it is sealed or expunged, click here for a link to an extensive blog entry I wrote addressing this matter.
For all other matters pertaining to the sealing, expunging, or overall cleaning of your criminal record, please call me directly at (305) 542-9491.