As you know there is a difference between sealing and expunging a record. You seal an arrest record when you have pleaded guilty or no contest to the charge, adjudication was withheld (no conviction imposed), and the charge is an eligible offense. As well, you can have no convictions on your record of any kind nor can you have ever sealed or expunged a record in the State of Florida previously.
You may also seal a record if you have been acquitted at trial and you otherwise qualify.
You may expunge a record where the charge has been dismissed or the state has declined to file.
If you seal a record, you must wait ten years from the date the order to seal was granted to expunge.
The process of expunging a previously sealed record is similar to expunging a record for the first time.
First, the State Attorney’s Office must confirm that the record was sealed. Instead of providing a certified disposition to the State Attorney (since your sealed record will not permit you to obtain a certified disposition) you can provide a certified copy of your order to seal along with your application. This is why it is so important to hang on to your documents. If you need a new copy of your order to seal, a motion to open a sealed record must be filed.
Once the State Attorney signs off on your application, the application, certified order to seal, and a set of fingerprints must be sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). FDLE will determine that your record was properly sealed and that since the sealing was granted, you have not been convicted of any crimes.
Just because your record was once sealed does not automatically mean it can be expunged 10 years later. If you have been convicted of a crime since the sealing was completed, you cannot expunge the sealed record.
You also cannot expunge a sealed record if you are presently on probation in an unrelated matter, you have an open criminal case, or have an active warrant.
Once FDLE issues a certificate of eligibility, a petition is filed with the court. A filing fee must be paid and provided there are no issues or objections from the state, your petition to expunge should be granted.
The Law Offices of Eric M. Matheny, P.A. seals and expunges records in all Florida counties.