As usual, FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) is slow when it comes to processing applications to seal or expunge criminal records.
As of right now (July 2013), FDLE is reporting that their processors are working on applications submitted in February of this year.
That means that if you were to apply to seal or expunge your record today, the total wait time from start to finish would be about 6-8 months, possibly even 9.
I wish there were a way to speed up the process but unfortunately, we are subject to the availability of FDLE processors. Frankly, there are many more applications than there are processors.
Each application to seal or expunge a criminal record in Florida must go through FDLE. FDLE processors will run the applicants’ records to make sure there are no convictions or prior sealings or expungements.
If you have previously sealed or expunged a record anywhere in the United States at any time in your life, you will be ineligible to seal or expunge your record in Florida.
Also, if you have been convicted of any criminal offense, even if it is unrelated to the offense you are trying to seal or expunge, your application will be rejected.
Florida has some of the toughest requirements when it comes to cleaning a criminal record.
In order to expunge, the case must have been dismissed or not formally filed. In order to seal, you must have received a withhold of adjudication to a qualifying offense.
There is a long list of offenses that do not qualify for sealing.
Obviously, if you were convicted of your offense, you cannot seal or expunge.
Since you must submit fingerprints with your application to seal or expunge, FDLE processors have the ability to check your criminal record nationwide. It is very hard to hide an old conviction from FDLE. Believe me, they will find it. Even convictions in federal court and juvenile court.
Also criminal traffic convictions will prevent you from sealing or expunging. That includes adjudications for DUI, DWLS (driving while license suspended), reckless driving, and other traffic-related crimes.
Eric Matheny is a Florida expungement attorney sealing or expunging criminal records statewide.