If you have been arrested, hiring an attorney to seal and expunge a criminal record is extremely important. As a criminal defense lawyer, I am also a Florida expungement attorney who can help you seal and expunge a criminal record. Florida expungement lawyers handle these matters on a daily basis and the process used to clear one’s record is very well established under Florida law.
If you want to seal and expunge a criminal record, you must first understand the difference between SEALING a criminal record and EXPUNGING a criminal record.
Expunging a Criminal Record in Florida
When a person successfully expunges a record in Florida, that record is physically destroyed and obliterated forever. This includes any and all records possessed by criminal justice agencies, such as police departments and the Clerk of Courts. The only exception to this rule relates to criminal records maintained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. When a person’s record is expunged, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s version of that record becomes confidential, but it never destroyed.
Sealing a Criminal Record in Florida
When a person successfully seals a record in Florida, the record becomes confidential, but is not destroyed. This means that the record itself is no longer accessible by the general public. Instead, it is only accessible by the person who is the subject of the record, that person’s attorney, to criminal justice agencies for their respective criminal justice purposes (such as police departments investigating a crime), and to judges in the state courts system for the purpose of assisting them in their case-related decision making responsibilities. Additionally, sealed records are available to criminal justice agencies (such as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) when conducting a criminal history check in regards to the sale or transfer of firearms.
When a criminal record is expunged, it is destroyed.
When a criminal record is sealed, it is made confidential.
As one can imagine, expunging a record is always better than sealing a record. As a Florida expungement attorney, the first thing I determine is if a client qualifies to have their record expunged. If they do not qualify for expungement, then the next best thing is to seal their record.
To determine if a client qualifies to seal their record, an expungement attorney must consider a number of factors. Those factors include the type of offense at issue and whether the person was convicted or not.
In the coming sections I will explain how a Florida expungement lawyer analyzes a case to determine if the client can expunge a record versus seal a record. We will also discuss some of the reasons why a person’s application to seal and expunge a criminal record may be denied.