The goal of every criminal defense attorney is to get their client's case dismissed. However, when this happens, the client is not out of the clear.
Dismissed, or nolle prossed, cases, or cases that are not formally filed by the State Attorney (no action or no info), do not automatically come off of the client's criminal record.
If you are arrested (and being issued a written promise to appear counts as an arrest), the charge will remain on your criminal record regardless of whether the State Attorney files charges or not.
The only way to clear this arrest from your record is to apply for an expungement.
Many people believe that if a case is dismissed then it automatically comes off of their criminal record. This is completely wrong.
Anytime you are arrested, you must expunge in order to get the arrest off of your record.
Unlike sealing a record, you expunge a case where the charges have been dropped.
In order to expunge a record, the charges must have been dismissed by the State. This includes a dismissal for successful completion of a diversion program, such as Drug Court, Pretrial Intervention, or Pretrial Diversion.
If the charges have been dismissed by the State and you have no prior convictions of any kind then you will likely be eligible to expunge your record .
The process takes 4-6 months and consists of a number of steps. It is best to retain an attorney who can ensure that the process is completed in a timely and professional manner.
I have seen too many people who try to save a few bucks by doing their own expungement application. Oftentimes, these people do not do them correctly and as a result, FDLE will not accept them or continues to return them to the applicant. The process ends up becoming frustrating and taking longer than it should.
You should not wait to expunge either. You can begin the day your case is dismissed. This will help ensure that your record gets clean in the shortest amount of time. If you wait too long, files may get lost and it may take the Clerk of Courts a long time to order your certified disposition. If the case is fresh, a certified disposition of the case can be obtained right away.
I have expunged cases that are 40 years old, and I have expunged cases that were dismissed just a day before. I find it easier and much quicker to expunge newer cases due to the availability of information. Older cases are harder for the Clerk of Courts to locate. And FDLE does require a certified disposition in every expungement application.
I handle expungements statewide. If you have ever been arrested in Florida, I can help you with your expungement if you are eligible.
Call me if you want to clean your criminal record.