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Choosing The Right Record To Expunge or Seal

If you have been arrested more than once, that does not mean you are ineligible to seal or expunge your Florida criminal record.

You can have multiple arrests on your record and still seal or expunge. It's only if you have a conviction (adjudication) on your record that you will be deemed ineligible to seal or expunge.

If you have been arrested more than once and you are eligible to seal or expunge (meaning that none of your arrests resulted in convictions), you need to decide which arrest you want to seal or expunge.

Florida law only allows you to seal or expunge one arrest, which means one charge or set of charges stemming from one incident. You cannot seal or expunge separate arrests that are not related to the same criminal incident.

If you were arrested in 2000, 2005, and 2012, you first want to look at which arrest was the most serious. I always advise clients to seal or expunge felony charges over misdemeanor charges. If all charges were felonies, choose the one that is most recent in time. In that case, you would seal or expunge the 2012 arrest.

Also, look to the disposition of the case. You may want to seal a case where you pleaded guilty as opposed to expunging a case that was dismissed. That's because a dismissed case looks better than a case where you admitted guilt to the court. If you have to choose between the two, go with the case where you entered a guilty or no contest plea.

Choosing a record to seal or expunge is not an easy task. You only get one expungement/sealing in your lifetime in Florida so use it wisely.

The prevailing logic is that you want to appear as desirable to an employer, and to the public at large, as possible. So when choosing which arrest to get rid of, evaluate it in terms of severity of offense, date of incident, and outcome of the case.

Eric Matheny is an expungement attorney and sealing attorney, sealing and expunging records throughout the State of Florida.