When you apply to seal or expunge your Florida criminal record, you expect that everything will go smoothly. You expect that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) will review your application in a timely fashion and issue you a Certificate of Eligibility.
While the ultimate decision to seal or expunge a record rests with the trial court judge, FDLE has the power to deny your application, thus making it virtually impossible for you to successfully seal or expunge your Florida criminal history.
Before you even think about sealing or expunging an arrest record in the State of Florida, you must determine whether any of the following applies to you:
1) You have a conviction on your record.
This is the number one reason why applicants are denied. You have a conviction (adjudication of guilt) on your record. It does not matter if the conviction is unrelated to the case you are trying to seal or expunge. It also does not matter if the conviction is from out of state, or even a juvenile conviction. A conviction of any kind will automatically render you ineligible.
2) You are trying to seal an ineligible charge.
While any dismissed charge can be expunged, only some charges can be sealed. Check out this article entitled "Charges That Cannot Be Sealed" to determine your eligibility.
3) You have an open case (pending) or an outstanding warrant.
If you are presently being prosecuted for an offense but want to seal or expunge an old offense, you cannot do so. You cannot have pending charges when applying to seal or expunge your record. You also cannot have an outstanding warrant. The warrant and pending charges must be resolved prior to applying to seal or expunge.
4) You have previously sealed or expunged a record in the State of Florida.
While you may seal or expunge records in other states, Florida law only permits the sealing or expungement of one arrest in your lifetime within the State of Florida.
These are the top four reasons why an applicant would not be able to seal or expunge their arrest record in Florida.
Before you begin the process, make sure you discuss these issues with an expungement attorney.