Winston Law PA

Is my criminal record permanent? In what situations can I have it sealed or Expunged?

Is my criminal record permanent?  In what situations can I have it sealed or Expunged?

As a criminal defense attorney, I am asked on a daily basis by both current and prospective
clients if their criminal records are permanent and if I can help them seal or expunge their records.  In many cases, I can help.

Criminal records can be accessed during background checks by law enforcement, employers, schools, banks, landlords and in many other situations. Even an arrest with no charges being filed can result in an application being denied. If you qualify to seal or expunge your record, Winston Law, P.A. can help you through the process to make sure you meet all the requirements.

First let’s talk about expunging.  If a criminal record is expunged, that means it is essentially erased or destroyed.  If your record has been expunged you do not have to answer ‘yes” if an application asks you if you have ever been arrested.  Because the criminal record is essentially erased, only a handful of government agencies will be able to see the record.  Expunging is preferable to most clients, however, there are very specific instances when a record can be expunged.

According to Florida Statute § 943.0585, the person requesting a record expunction, must have never been adjudicated guilty. never been adjudicated guilty of any act stemming from the arrest pertaining to this request, never received a record expunction or seal before, and to their best knowledge or belief does not have any other petitions before the court.

If you do not qualify for expunging your record, you may qualify to seal your record.  When a record is sealed it is still maintained but access to it is only allowed by a few agencies, such as law
enforcement, the military, and governmental agencies.  Most employers, banks and landlords will not have access to a sealed criminal record.

According to Florida Statute 943.059. the person wanting their record Sealed must have never been adjudicated guilty, never been adjudicated guilty of acts stemming from this arrest, must have never had a previous record seal or expunction, and based upon the person’s knowledge or belief’s is eligible
and does not have another petition before the court.  In addition to these qualifications, there
are some crimes, even if adjudication is withheld that cannot be sealed.  These crimes are outlined in Florida Statute 907.041 and are as follows:

  1. Arson;
  2. Aggravated assault;
  3. Aggravated battery;
  4. Illegal use of explosives;
  5. Child abuse or aggravated child abuse;
  6. Abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult, or aggravated abuse of an elderly person or
    disabled adult;
  7. Aircraft piracy;
  8. Kidnapping;
  9. Homicide;
  10. Manslaughter;
  11. Sexual battery;
  12. Robbery;
  13. Carjacking;
  14. Lewd, lascivious, or indecent assault or act upon or in presence of a child under the age of 16
  15. 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 person in familial or custodial authority;
  16. Burglary of a dwelling;
  17. Stalking and aggravated stalking;
  18. Act of domestic violence as defined in s. 741.28;
  19. Home invasion robbery;
  20. Act of terrorism as defined in s. 775.30;
  21. Manufacturing any substances in violation of chapter 893; and
  22. Attempting or conspiring to commit any such crime.

If you are interested in sealing or expunging your record a skilled criminal defense attorney can evaluate your record and determine whether you qualify under Florida Statute.  If you have been charged with a crime and are worried that you may have a permanent criminal record, a skilled defense attorney can fight for a positive outcome in your case that will allow you to later seal or expunge your record.

For more information please contact Winston Law, P.A. at (561) 670-9375 or [email protected].