The way that you resolve your case could effect your ability to have your arrest hidden from public view under Florida Seal and Expunge Statutes. Issues such as pleading “guilty” as opposed to “no-contest” or being “adjudicated” as opposed to having “adjudication withheld” are vital to preserving your ability to clean up your record. Furthermore, expunging a criminal record requires a dismissal. Always be sure to explore any possible diversion programs that may be available to you before resolving your case.
How You Resolve Your Case Will Effect Eligibility
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) is the authority that determines the sealing or expunging of criminal records of individuals; however there are certain eligibility conditions to be fulfilled. Florida statute 943.0585 gives information about expunging criminal records, and Florida statute 943.059 can be referred to for the precise law regarding sealing a criminal record in Florida. To determine if you qualify for record sealing or expungement, complete and submit our online criminal record seal & expunge eligibility form. No criminal arrest will be eligible for record sealing where a defendant pled guilty as opposed to no contest. An adjudication of guilt will also render a record ineligible for sealing. Many diversion programs are available under Florida law that will allow for a dismissal and expungement. Always be sure to thoroughly examine all options that may be available to you. Remember, no one, including the judge or prosecutor, is going to voluntarily inform you about potential alternatives available to you.
Record Sealing vs Record Expunge
The difference between sealing and expunging has to do with how the records of an arrest are treated following obtaining an appropriate order. Criminal records that are expunged are destroyed. This means that the court file, including police reports, witness statements, charging documents, everything along with it in the court files are destroyed. To the contrary, anyone obtaining a court order may still access criminal records that are sealed.
Are You Eligible for Record Sealing or Expunging?
You are eligible to have your record expunged if you have no prior convictions and:
- You were arrested but the charges were declined.
- You were arrested but the state filed a “No Information.”
- You were arrested but the charges were dismissed:
- By the presiding judge.
- Voluntarily by the prosecuting attorney.
- Because you successfully completed a diversion program.
- Because you successfully completed drug court.
*The above scenarios now also apply to individuals who received a “notice to appear” instead of being formally arrested for a misdemeanor offense.
You are eligible to have your record sealed if you have no prior convictions and:
- You were found “not guilty” at trial.
- You pled “no contest” to an eligible offense and received a withhold of adjudication.
Crimes That Can Not Be Sealed or Expunged
Offenses listed in Section 907.041, Florida Statutes
- Aggravated Assault
- Aggravated Battery
- Illegal use of explosives
- Child abuse or Aggravated Child Abuse
- Abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult, or aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult
- Aircraft piracy
- Sexual Battery
- Lewd, lascivious, or indecent assault or act upon or in the presence of a child under the age of 16 years
- Sexual activity with a child, who is 12 years of age or older but less than 18 years of age, by or at solicitation of a person in familial or custodial authority
- Burglary of a dwelling
- Stalking and Aggravated Stalking
- Act of Domestic Violence as defined in Section 741.28 F.S.
- Home-invasion Robbery
- Act of Terrorism as defined by Section 775.30 F.S.
- Manufacturing any substances in violation of chapter 893
- Attempting or conspiring to commit any of the above crimes
- Human Trafficking
- Sexual misconduct with developmentally disabled person and related offenses
- Sexual misconduct with mental health patient and related offenses
- Luring or enticing a child
- Sexual Battery and related offenses
- Procuring person under 18 for prostitution
- Lewd or lascivious offenses committed upon or in the presence of persons less than 16 years of age
- Scheme to Defraud or Organized Fraud
- Lewd or lascivious offense upon or in presence of elderly person or disabled person
- Sexual performance by a child
- Offenses By Public Officers and Employees.
- Showing, selling, etc., obscene literature to minor
- Computer pornography
- Selling or buying of minors
- Trafficking in controlled substances
- Sexual misconduct with mentally deficient or mentally ill defendant and related offenses
- A violation of any offense qualify for registration as a sexual predator under Section 775.21 or for registration as a sexual offender under Section 943.0435, F.S.
Can I Say That I Have Never Been Arrested If Sealed or Expunged?
Under most circumstances you may legally state under oath that you have never been arrested if you have successfully had your criminal record sealed or expunged. This includes in job applications. It is important to note, however, that an order to seal or expunge is only directed to the clerk of court and is not otherwise binding on private institutions that may have collected information about your arrest prior to your having it removed.