What Happens When You Are Arrested?
When someone is arrested in the state of Florida, in most cases, their arrest will result in a permanent charge on their criminal record – even if their charges are dismissed or there is a withholding of adjudication. This means that even if you were never convicted of a crime, that charge can still haunt you long after the ordeal is over. What then, can an individual do to remove the stain of crime from their record?
Sealing or Expungement May Be the Answer
If you think that the problem of a criminal charge on your record must follow you through the rest of your life, never fear. In the state of Florida, an individual can seal or expunge a case from their records under certain circumstances.
What Is Sealing and Who Is Eligible?
When a criminal record is sealed in the State of Florida, this means that only law enforcement can access your record in very limited circumstances. Sealed records may be eligible for expungement after 10 years. One of the benefits of sealing a criminal record is that the individual who has had the record sealed can deny the existence of that record, except to the following agencies and bodies:
- Law enforcement
- Department of Children and Family
- Department of Education
- Department of Juvenile Justice
- Any school – private or public
- Any licensee dealing with children
- The Florida Bar Association
- Or, after they have been prosecuted for subsequent crimes
Sealing of records is available to anyone who meets the following criteria:
- They have never been convicted of, or plead guilty to, any criminal charge
- The individual has not been convicted of or entered a guilty plea to the charge for which they are applying to seal.
- They are not currently on probation
- They previously have not had a criminal record sealed or expunged in any other jurisdiction.
Expungement differs from sealing of records, in that if granted, the criminal record of the charge in question must be physically destroyed. Current Florida law states that one expungement only is allowed per lifetime per individual. This applies only to Florida criminal records and no other states. While record sealing is available to those who were not convicted, or judgment of guilt was withheld, expungement is usually only available in cases in which no charges were filed, were dismissed or when the relevant criminal record has been sealed for ten years. Florida law dictates that certain serious crimes do not qualify for expungement. These include, but are not limited to:
- Crimes involving children, including enticing, luring, or lewd-behavior in front of a child
- Sexual crimes, including assault, battery, and voyeurism
- Violent crimes, including assault, battery, and domestic violence
- Homicide and manslaughter
- Kidnapping, carjacking, robbery, and terrorism
- Any offense by public employees
Contact an Experienced Attorney Today
Finding out the hard way that previous charges remain on your record is no fun at all. Fortunately, if you weren’t convicted, there is something you can do. If you are looking to have your criminal records sealed or expunged, you need an experienced legal defense lawyer who has your best interest in mind. At Piotrowski Law, we have the experience and know-how to help guide you through the expungement process. Call Piotrowski Law today at (305) 204-5000 for your free consultation.