Seal criminal charges in Pinellas/ Pasco Florida

Are you eligible to Seal criminal charges in Florida?

Many people have been arrested yet never "charged" with a crime. (They never went to court, the charge was dropped or dismissed) They may be eligible to expunge. Or if their record has been sealed for at least 10 years, they are eligible to expunge it. Some people have been arrested and charged with a crime, but never "convicted". That means they went to court, and were either found Not Guilty, or the judge ordered a "with hold of adjudication", which means there was no "formal" conviction of guilt. Those people may be eligible to seal their criminal record. Seal Expunge Criminal Record

The difference between Expunging or Sealing:

To Expunge means the records of the criminal charge go away entirely. Technically, any evidence of the arrest is no longer able to be found in any background check, court records, or police department files.*** If you are asked on an application whether or not you were ever arrested or convicted of any criminal offense you may answer NO. (There are exceptions to this for certain professional licenses) To Seal means the court file, police department records, and all else will literally be "sealed" and not visible without a court order to open the file. So if you seal your criminal record it should not show up on a background check. If you are asked on a job application whether or not you were ever arrested or convicted of a crime, you may answer NO. In order to qualify for sealing you must have:
  • received a Withhold of Adjudication
  • It must be your ONLY arrest - in any state.
  • It may not be a domestic battery, or any sex related offense, or a DUI. (Unless these charges were dismissed - if so, you are probably eligible to have them expunged)
  • To Expunge - the case had to be dismissed, or
  • Your record must have been sealed for ten years before you apply to Expunge
In addition, there are certain crimes you cannot seal or expunge, even if you received a withhold of adjudication. One of those crimes is Domestic Battery. This means that even if you felt you were wrongfully accused but just pled because you didn't have money for a lawyer, the crime will stay on your record permanently. The other crimes that can't be expunged are far more serious and are listed in Florida Statute 943.059 and 943.0585. This is why it is so important to have an attorney on your case from the beginning. A Domestic Battery that is dismissed because of your lawyer's efforts can be expunged. In addition, there are some crimes like DUI where a mandatory adjudication is imposed. These crimes also can't be sealed or expunged. Further, if you have a prior conviction from Florida or another state, you cannot expunge or seal your record. That's because the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) must first approve your application and the prior conviction will automatically cause them to deny it. In any case, if you don't have your record sealed or expunged, anyone can google your name and find the official record of your arrest and crime in the County Clerk and Sheriff's website where you were arrested and charged. This can cause massive problems when you apply for a job or seek a professional license later in life. Contact our experienced criminal lawyers to see if you qualify for sealing or expunging your record. ***However, in this age of technology, this may not always be the case. But technically, that is how the law is supposed to work.