SEAL AND EXPUNGE YOUR RECORD
As an expungement attorney in Florida, I am frequently asked questions about sealing/expunging a record in Florida. Given the complex requirements of Florida Statutes, most people do not understand who can seal/expunge a record, when a record can be sealed/expunged, what types of records can be sealed/expunged, or what the process entails. As an expungement lawyer, part of my job entails providing answers to these questions.
Accordingly, the following section will address some of the most frequently asked questions I encounter regarding sealing/expunging a record in Florida.
1) How much does it cost to seal/expunge my record?
$1,500 flat fee for attorneys fees, plus $75 costs. The only costs associated with sealing/expunging a record are for the filing fee that needs to be paid to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Operating Trust Fund. There are NO HIDDEN FEES.
2) What is the difference between sealing a record and expunging a record?
When a record is sealed, it is rendered confidential and can only be viewed by the person who is the subject of the record, that person’s attorney, certain law enforcement agencies, and judges.
When a record is expunged, it is destroyed. Because it is destroyed, it cannot be viewed by anyone. However, any record created by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will not be destroyed, but will be rendered confidential, as though it were sealed.
3) Why would someone choose to seal a record versus expunge a record?
Not everyone qualifies to have their record expunged. For those who do not qualify for expungement, sealing a record is their only option.
In order to expunge a record, the charges in question must have either been dropped by the prosecutor, dismissed by the judge, or not filed in the first place. In the alternative, if you sealed your record and at least 10 years passed without obtaining a conviction for a criminal offense, you may qualify for expungement.
4) Can I seal my record if I got an adjudication?
You can only seal a record if you received a withhold adjudication. Since most people are confused about this point you should NOT assume anything. The very first thing an expungement lawyer will do is check your record. You should leave it to your expungement attorney to make this determination. The only thing worse than being adjudicated is thinking you received an adjudication when you really were given a withhold adjudication.
5) When can I seal my record?
You can seal your record at any time after your court supervision/sentence is complete. In other words, if you were sentenced to 6 months of probation, you will have to wait until your probation ends to begin the process of sealing your record.
To successfully seal or expunge a record, your expungement lawyer must first obtain a certificate of eligibility from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. In order to obtain this certificate, your court supervision must have already ended. If you are presently on probation for the charge you wish to seal/expunge, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will not issue you a certificate of eligibility. Without the certificate, your expungement lawyer will be unable to file a petition to seal your record or a petition to expunge your record.
6) Is there any time limit to seal my record?
No, you can seal your record at any time after your court supervision/sentence is completed.
7) How many times can I seal/expunge a record?
Under Florida law, you are only permitted to seal/expunge a record one time in your life. If you have ever sealed/expunged a record before, even if in another state, you cannot seal/expunge again.