It’s no surprise that sealing or expunging your criminal record is a process that takes a long time to complete. That’s because the government processes sealing and expunging applications, which means that there is little - if any - customer service.
Expunging a record in Florida takes a little more time than sealing a record. That’s because the State Attorney’s Office in the judicial circuit in which your case was disposed must review your case to make sure that the charges were dismissed. This can take several weeks, if not months. At the conclusion of this review, an assistant state attorney will sign off on your application and mail it back to your Florida expungement lawyer.
At this point, the application must be sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). As of today, FDLE’s processing time for sealing or expungement applications is about 4-5 months. FDLE must run a comprehensive background check to ensure that you have no prior convictions of any kind (criminal traffic, misdemeanor, or felony) AND that you have never previously sealed or expunged a record in any state.
If your background check comes up clean, you can expect the FDLE processing time to be around 4-5 months. If something comes up that requires further clarification, expect that this matter may take more time.
Once FDLE issues a certificate of eligibility, the petition must be filed with the court. Depending on the county a court hearing may or may not be required. Your expungement attorney can and will waive your physical presence at any hearing as you are not required to be there personally.
Getting a court date may take some time. If no hearing is required, a judge may take as long as 30-60 days to sign the order.
Be patient when you apply to seal or expunge your record. The reward of having no criminal history in your background is well worth the wait.
Eric Matheny is a lawyer who seals and expunges criminal records in all Florida counties.