Expunge/Seal Criminal History
I receive numerous calls every week from prospective clients who want to have their criminal history sealed or expunged. In some instances, these are people who are applying for jobs and are concerned that a particular incident will appear on a background investigation and thus make them ineligible for their desired position.
Let’s face it. Jobs are at a premium these days, and many business owners, recruiters, and human resource professionals say that they receive so many applicants for any given position that those applicants who do not have a clean criminal history are immediately removed from consideration. Employers are not even interested in an explanation from the applicant as to the facts or circumstances that led to the arrest, even if the charges were ultimately dismissed.
I also receive many calls from college students who are concerned that an arrest may affect their chance to get a particular internship or, upon graduation, are concerned that they will be entering a highly competitive job market with many other applicants who have a clean criminal history.
Getting a criminal history record sealed or expunged is not an easy task. It involves several steps and procedures that must be carefully followed. Failure to follow the proper procedures will result in denial of your application, even if you are otherwise eligible.
If you have ever been arrested in Brevard County, Florida, even if the charges were ultimately dismissed, then you have a criminal history record. I encourage you to contact me for a free consultation to discuss whether you are eligible to have your criminal history expunged or sealed.
I have included a frequently asked questions section for informational purposes. I hope that you find it helpful and please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to discuss your eligibility.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Am I eligible to have my criminal history expunged? Florida Statute 943.0589 pertains to court-ordered expunction of criminal history records and sets forth the eligibility requirements. Generally speaking, you are eligible to have your criminal history expunged if: the indictment, information, or charging document was never filed or, if it was filed, that it was subsequently dismissed by the State.
2. What do I need to do to have my criminal history expunged? It's not an easy or simple process and generally takes about three months. (a) the applicant must submit an Application for Certification of Eligibility to the State; (b) the applicant must submit the application and fingerprint card to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; (c) the applicant must file a Motion to Expunge Criminal History Record; (d) the applicant must usually attend a hearing; and (e) the applicant must usually submit a proposed order to the judge. This process can be done without a lawyer, but your application will be rejected if you do not follow exact procedures.
3. How much does it cost to have my criminal history record expunged? Generally, court costs are approximately $150.00 and my services cost between $500.00 and $750.00, dependent upon your specific situation.
4. I was arrested but the State dropped the charge(s). Do I still have a criminal history record? Yes. Whenever law enforcement arrests someone for committing a criminal offense, that person has a criminal history record, even if the charge is ultimately dismissed. This is not fair, and it seems somewhat contrary to the saying that you are innocent until proven guilty. Notwithstanding, if you do not take steps to have your criminal history expunged, the record of arrest will forever remain as part of your criminal history.
5. Who will have access to my criminal history record? If you do not have your criminal history record expunged, anyone and everyone will have access to it. Criminal history records are considered public records unless expunged or sealed.
6. What are some reasons that an application to expunge a criminal history record may be rejected? Some of the most common reasons for rejection are: (a) the applicant has previously been convicted of a crime, which may even included a simple municipal ordinance; (b) the applicant, working without an attorney, did not properly submit the proper paperwork; (c) the applicant was arrested for an offense which may not be expunged.
7. Who will know about my criminal history record once it is expunged? Once your criminal history record is expunged, it is removed from the public record and will not appear on a background investigation. The statute states that any criminal history record that is ordered to be expunged must be "destroyed or obliterated by any criminal justice agency having custody of such record. Additionally, the statute provides that in most circumstances the applicant may deny or fail to acknowledge arrest for the expunged record.
8. What is the difference between having your criminal history expunged and having your criminal history sealed? Expungement (also known as expunction) means that your criminal history record is physically destroyed while sealment means that your ciminal history is sealed from public record and may only be viewed by first obtaining permission from the court.
9. If I entered a plea of guilty or no contest to a particular crime, am i eligible to have my criminal history record expunged or sealed? If you were adjudicated guilty of the offense, you are not eligible for either the expungement or sealment of your criminal history. However, if you entered a plea of no contest or guilty and the court withheld adjudication of guilt, then you may be eligible for the sealment of your criminal history. You are only eligible for expungement if the Office of State Attorney dropped or abandoned the criminal charge(s) against you.
10. Do you provide a free consultation to those who would like to discuss their eligibility to have a criminal history record expunged or sealed? Yes. I am happy to discuss the specifics of your situation. Please do not hesitate to contact me.