Your criminal case was dismissed. Congratulations! What a tremendous relief that must be. Maybe you completed a diversion program. Maybe the State Attorney declined to file formal charges (sometimes called a “no action” or “no info”). Maybe your criminal defense attorney was able to convince the State to drop the charges. Either way, it’s over.
Or is it?
Truth be told, that unpleasant experience you’ve just been through will remain in your background until you expunge. What does that mean?
Well, an expungement is a Court order directing all government agencies that have access to your record - the Clerk of Courts, the State Attorney, the police department, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement - to destroy the record.
Basically, it gets the charge off your record.
So, are you eligible to do this?
- Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offense in the State of Florida?
- Do you currently have any open warrants or pending criminal charges?
- Have you ever sealed or expunged a record in the State of Florida before?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions you are not eligible to expunge your record.
If you answered “no” to all three, keep reading.
You first need to complete the Application. You must sign, date, and notarize the Application.
You must obtain a certified copy of your dismissal, also known as your case disposition. If you retain me as your attorney, I will obtain this for you. I never make my clients obtain their own certified records.
You must get your fingerprints taken by an accredited law enforcement agency and must pay a $75 filing fee.
The State Attorney’s Office that prosecuted your case will first review the Application and sign it, signifying that they did, in fact, dismiss your case and that you are eligible for the expungement.
The packet will then be sent to FDLE who will make sure that you are eligible. Once they do that, they will issue a Certificate of Eligibility. This is a document that must be submitted to the Court.
A Petition must be filed, and accompanying the Petition must be the Certificate of Eligibility and an affidavit signed by the Applicant (client). Your attorney should also submit a proposed order to the judge.
These documents must contain very specific language and cite very specific statutes and rules. It is critical that these documents be prepared by a professional or at the very least be the standard forms used by the Judicial Circuit in which you are filing your Petition.
The Clerk’s Office will assess a fee that covers the costs of certifying and copying your order so that it can be mailed to the various agencies that will destroy your record.
Once the judge signs the order and you receive your copy, the process is over. The process takes approximately 4 to 6 months to complete.Eric Matheny is an Attorney that expunges records in all 67 Florida counties. Contact Attorney Eric Matheny to expunge your Florida criminal record.