Sealing and expunging criminal records in Florida are two different processes. While the ultimate goal is the same - to clean your criminal record so that you may legally deny an arrest - sealing and expunging have different requirements. Before you retain a South Florida expungement attorney, it's important to know which process you qualify for.
Only criminal charges that have resulted in dismissals can be expunged. A dismissal may mean successful completion of a pretrial diversion program, a nolle prosequi by the State Attorney's Office, or no formal criminal charges being filed ("no action" or "no info").
Once dismissed, you may expunge your arrest record provided you have no criminal convictions of any kind on your record and you have never sealed or expunged a record previously. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) will run a comprehensive nationwide background check on all expungement applicants to make sure that this criteria is met. Expunging a record requires the approval of the State Attorney's Office that dismissed the case.
As far as sealing a criminal record goes, you may be eligible to seal your record if you received a withhold of adjudication to a qualifying offense. Some offenses cannot be sealed, even if adjudication is withheld. These disqualifying offenses include but are not limited to burglary of a dwelling, drug trafficking, fraud, sexual battery, and several others. It's important to discuss your eligibility with a South Florida criminal defense attorney prior to making any decisions.
The same rules apply to sealing as they do to expunging. You can have no criminal convictions on your record and you can have no prior sealings or expungements. Sealing does not require the approval of the State Attorney's Office. In all, sealing and expunging criminal records in Florida takes about six to eight months. This is mainly due to the backlog of applications being processed by FDLE.
The Law Offices of Eric M. Matheny, P.A. is one of the few criminal defense law firms in Florida that handles sealing and expunging cases in all Florida counties.
With an insider’s perspective on how the justice system works, our lawyer case assess the strengths and weaknesses of a case which gives him the ability to make wise, informed decisions on how to proceed, no matter what you are facing. Attorney Matheny has handled over 50 jury and non-jury trials and proudly serves the accused and arrested in Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County.Learn More about His Experience