Criminal records are public, which means anyone has permission to view them. And having a charge on your record can thwart various aspects of your life, both professional and personal. A record can deter potential employers, landlords, lenders, and anyone else who does a background check from doing business with you.
If you have a stain on your permanent record, the Goldman Wetzel team may be able to help you get the charge swiped from your record. To see if you qualify, call our sealing and expungement lawyers in Tampa, FL today at 813-391-8051 for a fast, free evaluation.
Sealing vs. Expunging a Record
Anyone can access criminal records with just a basic local, state, or federal records query. If you have any criminal cases in your past, whoever pulls your record will see the details of your case, including dates, specific charges, and the conclusion of the case, e.g., conviction, dropped charges, etc. And regardless of whether you were convicted, acquitted, or the charges were dropped, a criminal charge can follow you around like a black cloud and block your future indefinitely.
Thankfully, legislatures acknowledge the public scrutiny that accompanies a criminal record and understand that old cases often punish people unfairly long after they have paid their dues.
Florida provides two separate avenues of removing an entry from your criminal record:
- Sealing: The first route is sealing, a process where the court puts the entry on your record under highly restricted access. When a record is “sealed,” the public no longer has access to it. Note however that certain government agencies, such as the Department of Education and the Department of Children and Family Services can still access sealed records.
- Expunging: The second, more thorough route is expunction, a process where the court removes the entry from most state directories. Swiping a file hides the case from not only the public but most government agencies, as well. The only way an agency can see an expunged record is if it has a court order to do so.
Qualifications for Sealing and Expunction
Not all people or types of charges are eligible for sealing or expunction. To qualify, you must meet the following general criteria:
- This is the first time you have had a record sealed or expunged. The state only allows one sealing or expunction per person.
- Your case must have been dismissed, acquitted, or dropped. Those who have been adjudicated guilty or convicted of a crime do not qualify for sealing or expunction.
- You have no open criminal cases and are not under any type of court supervision.
- The offense you want stricken is not listed in Florida Statute § 943.0585(5). Certain serious crimes are ineligible for sealing or expunction.
If you are expunging a sealed record, the record must have been sealed for a minimum of 10 years.
See if you meet the criteria to have your record sealed or expunged. Contact our office and speak to a sealing and expungement lawyer today about your case. We will review your file, determine if you qualify, and explain your next steps.
Felonies Ineligible for Sealing/Expunction
Florida law specifies that certain records involving serious felonies are not eligible for sealing or expungement. The state lists all the ineligible crimes in Florida Statute § 943.0585(5). Examples include:
- Sexual battery
- Luring or enticing a child
- Sex crimes involving minors, e.g., lewd and lascivious offenses involving anyone under the age of 16, sexual performance by a child, giving obscene material to a minor, etc.
- “Lewd or lascivious offenses committed upon or in the presence of an elderly person or disabled person”
- Computer pornography and traveling to meet minor
- Selling or buying of minors
- Drug or human trafficking
- Domestic violence and stalking
- Manslaughter and murder
How to Seal or Expunge a Record
The state lays out the process for sealing or expunging a record in Florida Statutes §§ 943.059 and 943.0585, respectively, but statutes can be quite confusing to read and hard to follow.
Do not let a lack of understanding prevent you from applying for sealing or expunction. Our criminal attorneys at Goldman Wetzel can help. We have helped numerous people get their records sealed and expunged — and most of them remark how it is one of the best things they have ever done.
Let us simplify the sealing/expunging process for you. When you work with us, we will:
- Begin by reviewing your criminal file and determining eligibility for sealing or expunction.
- Explain how we can help, the services we provide, and our fees.
- Help complete and file the sealing or expunging paperwork the state requires, including the certificate of eligibility and the petition to seal or delete the record.
- Verify your documents are complete and accurate. (Mistakes or omissions can result in a denied application.)
- Obtain your fingerprints to meet the state’s requirement.
- File the documents with the correct agency and keep you updated on the status.
- Stay available to you throughout the process to answer your questions and see your case through to the end.
How Sealing or Expunging a Record Can Help You
A mar on your criminal record can cause numerous problems, from restricting your job opportunities to getting denied on housing applications. However, when your offense has been sealed or expunged, you can legally deny/omit the charge on most applications. The case will remain hidden in your past, where it belongs.
When the court seals or expunges your record:
- It will no longer prevent you from getting accepted into colleges or universities.
- Career opportunities open up.
- Judges will not hold the case against you in any future custody or divorce cases.
- Landlords and lenders will not see the offense when you apply for housing or loans.
- The case will no longer interfere with certain licenses, such as driver’s licenses or professional licenses.
- Immigration officers cannot use your sealed or expunged record against you when determining eligibility for citizenship.
Free Consult with a Sealing and Expunction Lawyer in Tampa, FL
Let Goldman Wetzel help you clear your name and record. Call our sealing and expunction lawyers in Tampa today for a free, no obligation evaluation: 813-391-8051.