If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, you may wonder “Why seal and expunge my criminal record”? What does that even mean? What are the benefits of sealing my record? How much does it cost? How long does it take to seal and expunge a criminal record?
Sealing and expunging your record in Florida is an extremely important thing to do. A criminal record can prevent you from getting a good job, from renting a nice apartment, and even interfere with personal relationships – among many other negative consequences. The main reason to consider when wondering “why seal and expunge my criminal record” is this:
The main reason you should seal and expunge your criminal record is
to keep nosey people out of your business!
Protecting your reputation is everything.
By sealing and expunging your criminal record, you can keep your personal business private and out of sight from those who do not need to see it. In fact, the benefits of sealing and expunging your criminal record go well beyond protecting yourself from nosey people.
When a criminal record is sealed and expunged, it is removed from the public light
and cannot be accessed by employers, family members, or friends.
If you have been arrested or accused of a crime your reputation is at stake. Even if you won your case or had some other positive outcome, people will still question your character knowing that you have been arrested.
After an arrest is made, a number of documents are filed with the clerk of courts.. In fact, whenever a person is arrested the clerk of courts creates a special file for that particular arrest.
This is referred to as a court file. This court file is identified by at least two unique characteristics. First, your name will appear on the court file in the form of State v. John Doe. Second, the court file will also be identified by a unique case number.
The Internet has made criminal records
publicly available with the click of a mouse.
With the advent of the Internet, almost every clerk’s office throughout the entire state of Florida maintains a website where members of the public may search court records. This includes court records created following your arrest.
Court files normally contain some or all of the following documents:
- Police reports
- Booking reports
- Mug shots
- Charging documents
- Court notices
- Legal pleadings
- Bail bond paperwork
- Case disposition sheets
- Criminal score sheets
- Sentencing orders
- Fingerprint cards
- Clerk notes
These documents and records maintained by the Clerk of Courts regardless of whether you are innocent, guilty, or somewhere in between. In fact, the only reason why a court file is created in the first place is to maintain an accurate record of all the court documents generated during your case. This way, there is never any question about what happened or did not happen in your case.
Court files are public records that are accessible by just about everyone.
By making a simple trip to the courthouse, any person
is able to request your court file and read all of its contents.
In fact, the contents of your court file can be photocopied for about $1 per page.
The public accessibility of these records can lead to tremendous embarrassment and intrusion into your personal life. This is especially problematic when police reports and other legal documents are read out of context by someone unfamiliar with your case or you as a person.