If you or a loved one have been arrested for a state of Florida offense you may be entitled to seal and expunge the arrest record if you qualify. The experienced Tampa criminal defense attorneys at Fernandez & Hernandez aggressively represent clients who have been arrested in the Tampa Bay Area, including Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Polk County, Manatee, Sarasota County, Pasco County, Hernando County, and throughout the State of Florida.
Some criminal history records can be sealed or expunged. In most cases, you will not have to disclose the arrest. Having a criminal record can make it difficult to find a job, an apartment, or obtain a professional license. You can request that your criminal history be expunged or sealed, which means that the general public will not be able to see it under most circumstances.
Why Should I Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney?
In Florida, when a record is sealed or expunged, most potential employers who conduct background checks will not be able to access the information, and, in many cases, once your record has been expunged or sealed you may legally ‘deny or fail to acknowledge’ your prior record. See §§ 943.0585, 943.059, Florida Statutes.
After a criminal history record is sealed the general public will not have access to it. Only certain government agencies—including law enforcement and the court system—will be able to view sealed information. See § 943.059, Florida Statutes.
If a court orders your record to be expunged, it must be physically destroyed by criminal justice agencies, except that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement must retain a copy. That copy is kept confidential and can only be viewed by court order. See § 943.0585, Florida Statutes.
Who Is Eligible to Have Their Criminal Record Sealed or Expunged?
You may petition to have your criminal record sealed if you were not convicted of a crime or if adjudication of guilt has been withheld. You must not have had a criminal record sealed or expunged in the past. Criminal records related to arson, homicide, kidnapping, and certain sex offenses can never be sealed. See § 943.059, Florida Statutes.
Expungement, on the other hand, is generally available only in cases where no charges were filed, charges were dismissed, or when the criminal record you want to be expunged has been sealed for ten years. Florida law prohibits the expungement of records for a wide range of crimes. See § 943.0585, Florida Statutes.
What Is the Process for Filing for Expungement or Record Sealing?
Adults must begin by filing an application for a certificate of eligibility with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The application requires you to submit a certified copy of the final disposition of the case you are applying to have sealed or expunged and a full set of fingerprints.
Once you have obtained the certificate, you must file a petition to seal or expunge with the court that handled your case and present a copy to the arresting agency and the state attorney or prosecutor.
Why Fernandez & Hernandez?
Florida’s record sealing and expungement rules are complicated. To learn more about the law—and to find out if your criminal history record is eligible for sealing or expungement—contact an experienced criminal attorney at Fernandez & Hernandez.
The attorneys at Fernandez and Hernandez have experience defending individuals in criminal cases and will work vigorously to protect your rights. The criminal defense attorneys at Fernandez & Hernandez can help you understand all of your options and welcome the opportunity to interview with you. Our Tampa Attorneys Daniel Fernandez and Martin Hernandez are bilingual and can help guide you through the process.
Contact a criminal defense lawyer at Fernandez & Hernandez and request an assessment, and if you qualify, you may file a petition to seal and expunge. Our firm has represented numerous clients in seal and expunge matters. Many of these petitions have resulted in sealing and expunging arrest records.
If you or a loved one have been arrested for a State of Florida offense in the Tampa Bay area and would like to find out if you qualify to seal and expunge your arrest record, call Tampa criminal defense lawyer Daniel J. Fernandez of Fernandez & Hernandez at 813-229-5353 for a free consultation.