Eligibility for Expunging Adult Criminal Records in Florida
UPDATED: March 10, 2020
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If you have not been convicted as an adult, either because the prosecutor never filed charges, or the charges were dropped/dismissed before trial, AND you have not previously sealed or expunged a record, you can qualify for expunction. Arrests by mistake because of mistaken in identity can also be expunged (called administrative expunction).
Charges resulting in a withholding of adjudication or an acquittal may not expunged unless it has first been sealed for at least 10 years.
Under Florida Law, an adult can only get one criminal record expunged or sealed. In other words, you cannot later, in a different proceeding, ask to have a different arrest record sealed or expunged. (This is one reason where consultation with an attorney would be important if you have multiple offenses.)
What type of criminal offense cannot be expunged: The crimes that cannot be expunged or sealed if a person pled guilty, no contest, or was found guilty at trial, are:
- Aggravated assault or battery
- Illegal use of explosives
- Child abuse in any form
- Abuse or aggravated abuse of an elderly person or a disabled person
- Sexual battery
- Robbery or burglary
- Lewd, lascivious, or indecent conduct in the presence of a child under the age of 16
- Acts of domestic violence
- Trafficking in controlled substances,
- Conspiring to commit any of the above crimes, and more.
Court and arrest records are not automatically expunged. To remove these records, you must first apply for a Certificate of Eligibility with the court you were convicted in (see Process for Expunging Adult Criminal Records in Florida for more information).
Effect: Once your record is expunged, you are allowed to deny having been convicted – or even arrested – in all situations except for the ones described above. Additionally, though the state agencies described below are allowed to access your record via a court order, employees of those agencies are NOT allowed to disclose information about the existence of your criminal history record to anyone but you or the people in the agencies who have direct responsibility for employment, access authorization, or licensing decisions. It is a first-degree misdemeanor to do otherwise.
When expunged in Florida, your criminal history record is physically destroyed by any criminal justice agency that has custody of it or a copy of it, except the FDLE which will retain a copy of the record under complete lock and key, available to no one except in the few situations when a court order can be sought in order to review it. These situations include:
- when you are applying for a job with any criminal justice agency,
- when you are a defendant in another criminal prosecution,
- when you petition for another sealing/expunction,
- when you are applying for admission to the Florida Bar,
- when you are applying for a job or a license with the Department of Children & Family Services, the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Agency for Persons w/ Disabilities, or the Department of Juvenile Justice, or any position that is sensitive and involves work with developmentally disabled, aged, elderly people, or children,
- when you are applying for a job/licensure with the Department of Education or any entity that licenses child-care facilities or involves contact with children, or
- when you are attempting to purchase a firearm.
DMV Violations: Traffic violations, such as parking and speeding tickets, are not expunged. You must be charged with a criminal offense, such as DUI, reckless driving, and usually driving while license is suspended, cancelled or revoked. Text of these disqualifying code violations can be found here.
Sex Offenses: If you are a sexual offender and you seek expunction in order to avoid sex offender registration requirements, then you are also out of luck – there is no process available for getting past these registration requirements.
Administrative Expunction: On those occasions where the police arrest the wrong person due to a mistake in identity, or the police served an arrest warrant on the wrong person because the name and identification was the same as on the warrant or identity theft, you can obtain an administrative expunction. (FLA 943.0581) There is no limit on the number of administrative expunctions you can get nor does one count against subsequent sealing or expunction. However, obtaining an administrative expunction in Florida can be more difficult because the court will require a showing of a mistake, false information, or other evidence showing conclusively that your arrest was the result of a mistaken identity or identity theft. This involves a different process than that for regular sealing or expunction -- the arresting law enforcement agency must certify that your arrest was in fact mistaken or illegal. It is best to talk with an attorney about your particular situation. S/he can help determine if you are eligible for an administrative expunction.
For more articles on Florida expunctions, click on the following: