Process for Expunging Adult Criminal Records in Florida
Contrary to popular opinion, arrest and criminal conviction records do not simply disappear over time. You have to be proactive. There are multiple steps you must go through to obtain a court order to seal or expunge your past criminal history, the first being filing a request for a Certificate of Eligibility. The form can be obtained from the clerk of the court where you were convicted or it can be downloaded on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) website. If the form is approved by the FDLE after its own investigations, it does not guarantee that you will have your records expunged or sealed. Filling this request form is only the FIRST Step.
The next paragraph lists a few points to consider before submitting this application for a Certificate of Eligibility:
- Section A of the application must be completed (and signed) in the presence of a notary public.
- Before submitting the application, you must be fingerprinted by law enforcement personnel or a criminal justice agency of some kind and have an accompanying form filled out with your name, race, sex, birth date, social security number and signature on it. You can use the form FD 40-024, provided by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, for this purpose.
- You must provide a certified "disposition of the case" that you're applying to have sealed/expunged. For this document, see the clerk of the court where you were convicted and request the disposition information. If yours was a Pre-trial Intervention case or other diversion program, then you'll want to get a certified letter of completion from the State Attorney's office, since a "certified disposition" may not exist for your case. Similarly, provide the court with a certified copy of your Termination of Probation if you were on probation previously.
- The application for a certificate of eligibility costs $75.00. A nonrefundable cashier's check or money order, made payable to the FDLE, is due at the time of application.
- If you want your record expunged, the state attorney or statewide prosecutor must complete Section B. Otherwise, the application will be processed as a sealing rather than an expunction.
- The application must be complete and all the information in points 1 through 5 above must be complete when the application is submitted. If anything is missing (including the fingerprint form), the application will be returned and your application fee will be lost.
- As of June 1, 2010, the time it takes to receive a certificate or a denial letter is on average 40 days from the date of receipt of your application materials. There is NO expedited application process available at this time. This is important to consider if you are applying for any time-sensitive jobs or wanting to expunge your record for any reason that requires quick action.
Along with your Certificate of Eligibility for expunction, your petition to expunge your criminal history record is complete only when your sworn affidavit is included at the time of submission. The sworn statement must declare the following:
- That you have never been found guilty of a criminal offense,
- That you never been found guilty of any of the acts that stem directly from your arrest or the criminal activity that your petition is about,
- That you have never secured a sealing or expunction of a criminal history record before, whether from this jurisdiction or any other, unless the expunction you seek now is for a record that was sealed at least 10 years ago, AND
- That you are eligible for this expunction to the best of your knowledge or belief, and have no other similar petitions pending in any other court.
If all of the above information is provided to the court and the state attorney or statewide prosecutor is served the completed petition, then your work is done. The court will make its decision about your case, and if you win, the Clerk of the Court will certify copies of the decision to all relevant parties. It's the responsibility of the arresting agencies to forward the order to seal/expunge to any other relevant agencies as well as the F.B.I.
For more articles on Florida expunctions, click on the following: