Sealing or Expunging a Criminal Record in Florida (Frequently Asked Questions)
What Does it Mean to have a Criminal Record Sealed?
In Florida, a criminal record that has been sealed will officially become confidential information. This means that the general public will no longer have any legal means to access this information. Though, it must be noted that state and local police officers may be able to access a sealed criminal record under certain circumstances.
What is Expungement?
While expungement of a criminal record is somewhat similar to sealing a record, there is also an important difference. If your record has been expunged, then the physical copy of that record that is being held by a court or most law enforcement agencies will be ordered destroyed. However, a copy will still remain on file with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Once again, the public will lose the ability to access this information.
Sealing and Expungement: Is it Really Worth It?
Yes. If your criminal record can be sealed or expunged, it is likely well worth the effort to get it done. For the vast majority of people, there are both tangible and intangible advantages to sealing or expunging a record. Three important benefits include:
Employment: At this point in time, the majority of Florida employers conduct criminal background checks on prospective employees. Fair or not, a clean record will go along way towards helping you obtain employment. With expungement, you will not always be required to disclose your prior record to your future employer. Though, it is important to note that in certain fields you will still be required to make disclosures. For example, if you are applying for a job in law enforcement, you may be required to disclose your expungement. You should always consult with your attorney if you have any specific concerns related to this issue.
Housing: Similar to employers, Florida landlords are now often performing basic criminal background checks on their prospective tenants. By getting your records sealed or expunged, you may be able to dramatically increase your chances of having your housing application approved. Further, you may also save money on your required deposit and even your monthly rent obligations.
Peace of mind: Finally, sealing or expunging your record can give you a significant amount of additional privacy. This is especially valuable in today’s world considering how easy it is to access detailed information over the internet. Many people report a deep sense of satisfaction as well as stress relief after getting an expungement.
Can All Convictions Be Sealed or Expunged?
No. Depending on your specific circumstances, you may not be eligible to have your records sealed or expunged. In fact, convictions related to certain crimes are never eligible for expungement. A non-exhaustive list of ineligible convictions includes:
- Certain sexual crimes, particularly those involving minors;
- Some domestic violence crimes;
- Manslaughter; and
Ultimately, you should always speak to a qualified criminal defense lawyer about your specific circumstances in order to determine if you qualify to have your criminal records sealed or expunged.
Do You Need Legal Assistance?
At The Pawlowski//Mastrilli Law Group, our criminal defense lawyers have helped protect the rights of many people throughout the Tampa region. If you have any questions about expungement or the sealing of a criminal record, please do not hesitate to contact our team today at 813-242-4404 to schedule a fully confidential review of your case.