I have posted numerous blog entries regarding the issue of sealing or expunging your criminal record. Click on the link above to find out how sealing your record is different than expunging your record.
I receive phone calls every single day from people who want their past arrests off of their records. These arrests come up during immigration interviews, mortgage applications, and most frequently - background checks for employment.
In fact, employment is the number one reason why my clients choose to have their criminal records cleaned.
Click here to determine whether you are eligible to have your record sealed or expunged.
This entry will deal exclusively with the cost of the process, since that is a concern of many clients and prospective clients.
If you are reading this blog, it's because you found my website on the internet. You probably used a search engine (such as Google) and entered search parameters such as, "Miami expungement attorney."
My website came up on the first page, but so did many others. You will also see links to the right of the page, in the margin. Those links are blue. Those are called "sponsored links." That means, the owner of the website paid a lot of money to Google for that type of placement. Websites in the main column of the page, called "organic links," are there because the pages provide content that is relevant to the terms you are searching. Google ranks these pages not only by relevance, but by popularity as well.
If you are looking for an attorney on the internet, I always find its best to click on an organic link. Sponsored links are not always relevant and are there simply because somebody spent a lot of money.
Now that we have website placement out of the way, you want to know what you are getting for your money. Many of these websites advertise sealing or expunging at a certain price.
The lowest price I have seen on the internet is $359.00. However, I researched this website and found out exactly what "$359.00" is.
$359.00 is the "base" fee. Costs of the process are not included. An expungement costs (this does not include attorneys fees) about $124.00. This can be broken down in the following way:
1) $75 fee to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). This is the state agency that approves your expungement or sealing application.
2) $42.00 to the Clerk of Courts. This is the cost of filing the Petition to Seal or Expunge Criminal History that is submitted to the court upon FDLE's approval of the application. The $42 cost exists in Miami-Dade and Broward. Some counties may charge different fees.
3) $7.00 to the Clerk of Courts for a certified disposition of your case. This must be included in your application to FDLE. A certified disposition is a certified (under seal by the Clerk of Courts) court record showing the final outcome (dismissal, withhold of adjudication, etc...) of your case.
So it is safe to say that in Miami-Dade County and Broward County, and expungement or sealing will cost you $124.00. The rest are attorneys fees.
Attorneys do a good deal of work on expungement/sealing applications. It is mainly a paper process, but court appearances may be required when the actual petition is filed.
Now, let's go back to this "$359.00" website. The base fee is $359. This does not include costs. So now the cost of this "discount" expungement or sealing is now $476 (add $75 and $42). Okay, but what about a certified disposition? Remember how I told you that a certified disposition costs $7? Well this website says that it charges you $25 for a certified disposition! That's a 357% mark-up!
Okay, so now this "discount" expungement or sealing is costing you $501.00.
This website also proclaims that, "in the event a hearing is required, an additional appearance fee of $250.00 is charged."
I go to court on every single one of my Miami-Dade and Broward County expungements or sealings. Many judges require the presence of the Southern Florida criminal defense attorney, especially if there are legal issues regarding the sealing or expungement petition or if the State Attorney objects to the petition. Sometimes, the judges just want the attorney there.
I never include a charge for court appearances. I am a lawyer. It's my job to go to court for my clients. Charging an additional fee just to go to court would be like a restaurant charging extra for your waiter to bring your food to the table. It's part of the service.
So assume your expungement or sealing will require a court appearance. Add $250.00 to $501.00 and you have a "discount" fee of $751.00.
I am not trying to disparage a fellow Florida attorney, but I just want you to be aware of these so-called "cheap" expungement firms.
First off, they are not cheap. The prices are misleading. Second of all, many of these expungement firms put the work in the hands of clerks, secretaries, and paralegals.
How do you like it when you hire a dentist because you hear they are good, but when you go in for a cleaning, it's done by his or her dental hygienist. I have nothing against dental hygienists, but I didn't hire a dental hygienist. I hired a dentist.
You hire a lawyer to expunge or seal your record because you are relying on the experience, training, and knowledge of a licensed attorney. I work for myself, by myself, and do every expungement and sealing myself. I never pawn my work off onto non-lawyer personnel. Frankly, they are not trained the way that attorneys are. Your future employability depends on the preparation and correctness of your expungement or sealing application. I do every one of them myself to ensure that my clients receive proper, professional service.
I charge $625.00 for every sealing or expungement matter. $625, flat fee, no hidden fees, extra fees, or additional costs.
This fee includes:
1) $75.00 FDLE fee
2) $42.00 Clerk's filing fee
3) $7 certified disposition fee
4) $501 attorney fee (includes any and all court appearances)
When you break it down, my price is one of the most reasonable around. Many attorneys charge $750-$1,000 for the same service. Many of these lawyers don't include costs in their fees.
I never advocate bargain shopping when it comes to hiring an attorney, but when it comes to sealing or expunging your record, the cost should be a determining factor. The truth is, most attorneys out there are going to do a diligent job on your application. The question is, if two attorneys of equal skill are willing to provide the same service, why pay more?
I am a licensed Florida attorney who handles expungement and sealing of criminal records in Miami-Dade and Broward County. I will handle expungement and sealing matters in other Florida counties as well.
If you are interested in having your criminal record sealed or expunged, call my office today. My total fee is $625. You will not pay a penny more.