Can I Seal a Criminal Record in Florida?

Life in Florida can be happy and enjoyable for many people, but it can also get a little complicated if you have a criminal history. As it happens in other states, people with an offense record have a hard time buying properties, asking for loans, and getting jobs.

That's because most people try to avoid any danger to their business or property, and they see people with criminal offenses under their names -regardless of what the offenses are - as threats to society. Fortunately, if you meet specific criteria, you can seal your offense records with no problem.

Whether you want to seal or expunge your Florida record, you have to consult your situation with a state attorney and see if you can ask for your offenses to be sealed or expunged. However, you can't ask a law enforcement agency to seal all criminal offenses, so you need to know some things about the process before getting into it.

You don't have to Google "seal criminal record in Florida." Read this page if you want to know how to seal your criminal offense record in Florida! The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has some of the most generous laws regarding this matter, so start your offense record sealing process as soon as you can!

What Does It Mean to Seal your Criminal History Record? Is It the Same as Expunging It?

Sealing your arrest records is not the same as expunging them; however, both processes give you similar benefits. When you seal your offense history, you are making it unavailable to the public.

If you seal your offense record, neither bankers nor companies can have access to it.

Regardless of that, individuals and entities that are legally authorized to access your records can do it with the permission of a judge. That means any criminal justice agency in the state can access your record.

However, you shouldn't worry about that unless you get involved in a new crime investigation that requires a criminal defense attorney or other legal entity to access offense records.

Expunging criminal records means destroying the offense record itself, so the only trace of it is a copy of the files that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement keeps for itself. Not all people who seal their records are eligible for expunction, but every minor who went through a juvenile correctional facility has its records destroyed when they get 21.

handcuffs and a gavel

When Can the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Seal My Criminal Offense History?

Sealing Florida records is not as easy as it seems since you need to meet specific conditions to be eligible to do it. For example, you can't seal or expunge a criminal history record pertaining to more than one arrest.

Everything related to sealing or expunging Florida criminal records is in the Florida Statutes, but we want to give you a brief overview of some situations in which you can't have your arrest record sealed, so you don't have to look it up yourself.

Naturally, not all offenses can be sealed from criminal history records. You can't apply for this process if you pled guilty for a crime in the past -as shown in the Florida Statutes, Section 943.051(3)(b) -, if you have more than a single arrest in your Florida Criminal Record, or if you want to seal disqualifying crimes listed in the Florida Statute.

Here are some of the disqualifying offenses for records sealing according to Florida Law:

  • Human Trafficking
  • Drug Trafficking
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Abuse of a Disabled Adult or Elderly Person
  • Abuse of a Disabled Person
  • If you are a sexual predator pursuant or any kind of sexual offender
  • If you are involved in sexual misconduct or any lewd or lascivious offenses committed to a developmentally disabled person
  • Aggravated child abuse
  • Domestic abuse or domestic violence of any kind
  • Sexual performance with a child
  • Violations of the Florida Communications Fraud Act

If you were involved in an arrest, alleged criminal activity, or any comparable ordinance violation mentioned before, you can't, under any circumstances, have your Florida criminal record sealed or expunged. That applies to Pinellas County and any other place in Florida.

Things to Take into Account About Having Your Criminal Record Expunged or Sealed

There are many other things you need to know about the entire process. Regardless of what you were accused of, if you were adjudicated guilty of such crime, you can't have a confidential record. The Florida Administrative Code allows lawful self-defense expungement, though.

Regardless of that, if the court withheld adjudication of your arrest, you may qualify to seal your records. These laws don't apply to out-of-state convictions.

Something that many people don't know is that some people can access criminal records if the person who sealed them is applying for a job in one of the following places:

  • Criminal justice agencies
  • Private or parochial school
  • Arresting agency
  • Local governmental entity
  • State attorney's office
  • Any university laboratory school
  • Juvenile prison
  • Law enforcement agencies

Conclusion

Whether you want to seal or expunge your records with a trial court, you can be put under court supervision. Although attorney fees can be expensive, we recommend you ask for legal advice if you want to go through this process. Keep in mind that the attorney-client relationship makes it impossible for lawyers to leak out anything you tell them.

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