The Law Office of Lee Meadows has over 41 years assisting people needing guidance regarding having a criminal record sealed or expunged.
Am I Eligible To Have My Record Sealed/Expunged?
The eligibility requirements for having your record sealed or expunged differ based on the charges brought and how the case is resolved. However, no record is eligible to be sealed or expunged if it resulted in a conviction or an adjudication of guilt.
DON’T LEAVE YOUR FUTURE TO CHANCE
Depending on how your criminal case is resolved, Florida law allows you to have your Florida criminal records either sealed or expunged.
Move Forward From The Mistakes Of The Past
Sealed or Expunged? What's the Difference?
An expunged record results in the physical destruction of all but one copy of your criminal record, which is maintained by FDLE. A sealed record is concealed from public view and unavailable for public inspection, but can still be physically reviewed by law enforcement. But neither sealed records, nor an expunged records are made available to a private employer or through a public background search.
Sealing a Criminal Record:
Definition: Sealing a criminal record means that the record is hidden from the general public but can still be accessed by certain government agencies and law enforcement for specific purposes. It's not entirely erased but made less visible.
Eligibility: To be eligible for record sealing, you must meet certain criteria. You may be eligible if you plead guilty or no contest to a crime, received a withhold of adjudication, and you have never been adjudicated guilty of any other crime. Other criteria may include completing probation or parole successfully and not having committed disqualifying offenses.
Process: The process involves filing a petition with the court where the case was originally heard. If the court grants the petition, your record is sealed, and the public generally cannot access it.
Expunging a Criminal Record:
Definition: Expunging a criminal record goes a step further than sealing. When a record is expunged, it is physically destroyed or obliterated, leaving no trace of the criminal record, except one copy of your criminal record, which is maintained by Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).
Eligibility: Eligibility for expungement is typically more limited than sealing. Generally, only cases where charges were dropped, dismissed, or where you were found not guilty at trial are eligible for expungement. Certain other specific circumstances may also qualify.
Process: The process of expunging a record is more complex and time-consuming than sealing. It often involves obtaining a Certificate of Eligibility from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) before filing a petition with the court.
Benefits of Getting Your Record Sealed/Expunged
Privacy: Sealing or expunging a criminal record in Florida helps protect your privacy by making it less accessible to the public. This can be particularly beneficial in personal and professional situations.
Improved Employment Opportunities: Many employers conduct background checks on job applicants. A sealed or expunged record can increase your chances of securing employment because potential employers may not see your criminal history.
Professional Licensing: Certain professions and licenses require a clean criminal record. Sealing or expunging your record can help you pursue or maintain a professional license. However, some licenses will still require you to disclose any criminal history, regardless of if your record is sealed or expunged. Therefore, it is recommended to keep several certified copies of the pertinent documents before getting your records sealed or expunged.
Housing Opportunities: Landlords and property management companies often conduct background checks on potential tenants. A sealed or expunged record can improve your chances of securing rental housing.
Education: Some educational institutions may consider an applicant's criminal history during the admissions process. A sealed or expunged record can help you pursue higher education.
Restoration of Civil Rights: In some cases, sealing or expunging a record can lead to the restoration of certain civil rights, such as the right to vote and the right to serve on a jury.
Reduced Stigma: Sealing or expunging a record can help reduce the social stigma associated with a criminal past, allowing individuals to move forward with their lives more easily.
Peace of Mind: Knowing that your criminal record is sealed or expunged can provide peace of mind, as you won't have to disclose past offenses in various situations.
Legal Protections: Florida law provides legal protections against discrimination based on a sealed or expunged record, making it unlawful for employers or educational institutions to consider such records in certain circumstances.
“Mr. Meadows consulted me about a legal matter I was very worried about. He put my mind at ease and handled it quickly and professionally. His 35+ years experience definitely gave me peace of mind! Highly Recommend!”
Avvo Reviewer – September 21, 2017