Mistakes you make as a minor should not have to follow you into adulthood. Luckily, in Florida, you can get your juvenile record expunged if the state dropped the case, or sealed if the court withheld adjudication of delinquency. The following explains the legal effects of expunction and sealing, and the steps you must take in order to do so.
What does sealing or expunging your juvenile record do?
Basically, sealing or expunging a record means you do not have to acknowledge the charges in the sealed or expunged records. It is important to note, however, that sealing and expunging mean different things.
With a sealed record [Florida Statute § 943.059], anyone seeking information about your record would need a judge’s order to open it. An expungement [Florida Statute § 943.0585] essentially means your case does not exist in any pertinent databases.
Why should I expunge or seal my record?
While the state automatically expunges the records of most juvenile offenders once they turn 24 [Florida Statute § 943.0515], it may be beneficial to attempt a sealing or expungement prior to the 24-year mark. Waiting until you are 24 could mean six years of facing job and higher education rejections or apartment denials, all because of a mistake you made as a minor.
How can I seal or expunge a juvenile record?
Under Florida Statute § 943.0582, if you enrolled in a Juvenile Diversion Program and complete the following, the department may expunge any non-judicial arrest record:
- Submit an application, signed by a parent or guardian if still a minor, for pre- or post-arrest diversion expunction within 12 months of completing the program
- Submit an official written statement from the state attorney that the petitioner completed the program for a non-violent misdemeanor and has never faced charges for another criminal offense
If you did not enroll in a diversion program, you can seal or expunge your juvenile record if you submit a valid department issued certification of eligibility, a $75 processing fee, and a sworn statement that indicates:
- You have “never, prior to the date on which the petition is filed, been adjudicated guilty of a criminal offense or comparable ordinance violation, or been adjudicated delinquent for committing any felony or a misdemeanor specified in s.051(3)(b),”
- You have never “been adjudicated guilty of or adjudicated delinquent for committing any of the acts stemming from the arrest or alleged criminal activity to which the petition to seal pertains”
- You have never had your record sealed or expunged before
- You are, to the best of your knowledge, eligible to seal or expunge
Contact a Juvenile Defense Attorney in St. Petersburg
The information given above is a good starting point, but it is important to hire a criminal attorney for an all-inclusive list of exceptions and step-by-step guidance on how to properly expunge and seal your criminal arrest record. For legal representation in St. Petersburg, contact the attorneys of Goldman Wetzel today at 727-828-3900.