[vc_empty_space height=”13vw”]Palm Beach County is one of the best places to live in all of Florida. If you have a criminal past, however, life here is far from idyllic. The State of Florida makes it easy for anyone to access criminal records, meaning you may find it difficult to get a job, find adequate housing, or even travel. Fortunately for those who have had prior criminal charges, Florida law allows those who are eligible to seal or expunge their records – meaning they can put their past behind them and move on with life. Here is Piotrowski Law’s guide to getting a case expunged in Palm Beach County.

What is Expungement?

When a court orders an individual’s records to be expunged, on the other hand, the criminal records must be physically destroyed. Only the Florida Department of Law Enforcement maintains a copy of the files, though the contents are kept confidential and may only be viewed with a court order. Once expungement of the record has occurred, any entity with access to sealed records would only see the following response to an individual’s criminal record, in accordance with Florida statutes § 943.0585: “Criminal History Record Expunged Pursuant to Florida Statutes 943.”

Who Is Eligible for Expungement in Palm Beach County?

While record sealing is available to those who were not convicted, or judgment of guilt was withheld by the court, 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

Current Florida law states that only one expungement is allowed per lifetime per individual. There are certain exemptions, which will not count towards your one expungement of a criminal record in Florida. These exceptions are:

  • You had a qualified juvenile expungement in the past
  • You are the victim of human trafficking
  • Your charges were dropped due to lawful self-defense

The Expungement Process

If an individual believes that they qualify for expungement, they must file an application for a certificate of eligibility with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. This application may be obtained from the Palm Beach County Clear and Comptroller’s office. This application requires additional documentation, such as a full set of fingerprints, as well as a copy of the final disposition of the case they wish to be expunged.

Once the request is filed, the Department of Law Enforcement will determine if the individual meets their requirements for eligibility, and if they do, will grant them a certificate. Once the certificate of eligibility is obtained, the individual must file a petition with the state attorney or prosecutor, as well as the arresting agency. Once they receive the petition, the relevant records will be destroyed.

If you are looking to have your criminal records expunged in Palm Beach County, 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 1-561-614-5000 for your free consultation.