The benefit to having your Florida criminal record sealed or expunged is that you may legally deny your arrest to a prospective employer. However, there are situations in which certain government agencies or even entire industries are permitted by law to know if you have ever been arrestedregardless of whether the record has been sealed or expunged.
While there are several exceptions under Florida law, two notable exceptions are for teachers and medical professionals.
Florida statutes requires that anybody who is seeking to be “is seeking to be employed or licensed by the Department of Education, any district school board, any university laboratory school, any charter school, any private or parochial school, or any local governmental entity that licenses child care facilities.”
That means that even if your record has been sealed or expunged, if you are seeking employment as a teacher at ANY school (including private schools, charter schools, colleges, and universities) you do not have the right to deny the arrest and must disclose the sealed or expunged arrest to your employer. Failure to do so may result in your termination.
For medical professionals, you should know that the same statute requires those who are “employed or used by such contractor or licensee in a sensitive position having direct contact with children, the disabled, or the elderly” must also disclose the existence of a sealed or expunged record in Florida.
Since most medical professionals will undoubtedly be in sensitive positions having contact with children, the disabled, or the elderly, most will have to disclose their arrest records, whether sealed or expunged, to their employers.
This should not discourage you from sealing or expunging your record in Florida. Most hospitals and schools want their employees to have clean records so that they are not available to the public. Also, should you change jobs or career fields, you can do so seamlessly without having to wait the 6-8 months for the sealing/expungement process to be completed.
Eric Matheny is an attorney who seals and expunges criminal records in all Florida counties.