This is one of the more common questions I get regarding sealing or expunging a criminal record.
Of course it's understandable. More often than not, people get their criminal records cleaned for employment purposes. You want that dream job, but you know it's going to be tough to get with an arrest in your background.
So obviously, you want that record cleaned ASAP!
A lot of the "speed of the process" is up to the applicant. If you can get your paperwork completed in a timely fashion, the process can begin.
The first thing you must do is fill out, sign, and notarize your application. This piece of paper must be turned in to your South Florida criminal defense attorney before the process even begins.
Then, you must get your fingerprints taken at your local police station and you must sign and notarize your affidavit.
When a client retains my services for a sealing or expungement matter, I always submit their forms to them by email or in person. This permits the client to get the paperwork processed within a day or so.
So okay, enough about this...how long does the whole stinkin' process take?
I find that it depends on where the sealing or expungement takes place. I will break it down for you county-by-county regarding expungement, since expungements take longer. I will explain why in a moment.
Misdemeanor expungements take 4 - 6 months. This is because the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office must process the applications before they can be sent to FDLE. This process alone takes about 6 weeks. After the 6-week period, an approved application is returned to me. I then forward the application, along with the fingerprints, certified disposition, and $75 FDLE processing charge (which is included in my fee) to FDLE. FDLE then takes about 90 days to return a certificate of eligibility to me. I then file a petition with the Miami-Dade County Court and pay the $42 filing fee (again, included in my total fee). The Clerk's Office puts the matter on calendar within 10 days. At the hearing, the Judge will sign an order expunging the record.
Felony expungements in Miami-Dade do not take as long. This is because of the remarkable turnaround time. The State Attorney's Office typically returns approved applications within 8-10 business days. I then follow the same procedure as I would with a misdemeanor expungement. The total time, I would say, for a felony expungement is 90 - 120 days, give or take backlogs and delays at FDLE.
Longer processing time than Miami-Dade. Expect 8-10 weeks for a response from the Broward State Attorney's Office. Then I follow the same procedure as I mentioned above. Give or take 6 full months for a Broward expungement.
PALM BEACH COUNTY:
The longest delays by far. The State Attorney's Office in Palm Beach County processes expungement applications very slowly. Expect a 90-day turnaround from the submission of the application to the return of an approved application. Then I must submit the forms to FDLE and wait on them as well. Expect at least 6 months in Palm Beach County, maybe longer. This applies to both felonies and misdemeanors.
Record sealing takes less time because the State Attorney's Office (in any county) is not required to approve an application. For this reason, a sealing can bypass the State Attorney's Office and go directly to FDLE.
Now, on it's own website, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement says that its processing time is 30 days from the date the application is received.
I truly applaud their efforts, but 30 days is a generous estimate. Sealings can take 90 - 120 days. After the application is approved, the matter must still be set on calendar and approved by a Judge.
Remember - FDLE only declares whether or not an applicant is eligible to have their criminal record sealed or expunged.
Record sealing and expungement is a judicial process. Only a Judge can order a record sealed or expunged.
I practice criminal defense with a heavy emphasis on sealing and expunging criminal records in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach.
I charge a flat fee of $625.00 for all expungement and sealing matters. This includes all of your costs - certified disposition fee, FDLE fee, and filing fee.
Beware of "discount" expungement and sealing firms. Their fees are often much higher than mine because they do not include costs. They also may charge extra for travel as well as appearances in court.
My fee covers everything. You pay $625 upfront and then will never be asked to make any sort of payment to me ever again. I work for myself and by myself. I handle all sealings and expungements personally. I do not farm my work out to non-lawyer personnel, such as paralegals, secretaries, or law clerks. You hire an attorney to clean your record because you want an attorney's skill and expertise.
If you would like to clean your criminal record, call me today. I handle sealing and expungement for clients all over the world. I can process credit card payments by phone and can submit paperwork by email. It doesn't matter where you live now, so long as you have a criminal matter than needs cleaning in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach. You will not be required to appear in court, only your attorney will.