In Florida, a criminal record or arrest can be sealed or expunged but only once in a lifetime and only if the charge(s) qualifies. Not all charges can be sealed or expunged. The Petition to Expunge or Seal must be filed in the county where the case originated. In Florida, expunging a case or sealing an arrest or case are different things.
To expunge means that the records are destroyed by the court and arresting agencies. Sealing means that the records remain available to the courts but are not available without a court order to most others. In some circumstances a criminal record must be sealed before it can be expunged. If the records must be sealed prior to expunging, then under current law, a person must wait ten (10) years after sealing the record before the case can be expunged.
A person that is adjudicated or convicted, does not qualify and cannot apply to expunge or seal the arrest record or court case. Most sex offenses, any DUI or any Domestic Battery do NOT qualify to be sealed or expunged. Civil traffic tickets are not criminal and cannot be expunged but may be modified close in time to the sentence or judgment of the Court. Criminal cases that were dropped or dismissed either by a deferred prosecution agreement, pre-trial intervention contract, a nolle prosequi or no information are eligible to be expunged immediately. Otherwise, cases can be sealed and then expunged later if the court entered a withhold of adjudication meaning that there was no conviction.
The public defender’s office will not usually assist in expunging or sealing an arrest or court record. A person wanting guidance through the process will have to hire their own lawyer. Please call, click or fill out the form to begin the process with a lawyer.