Sealing and Expunging Criminal Records

Florida is one of very few states that have a statutory scheme for sealing and expunging criminal records. Sealing is different from expunging, and some charges cannot be sealed or expunged. The statute has been amended several times and has made it increasingly difficult to obtain a sealing or expunging. The process goes like this: first you send a fingerprint sample to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement with an application (which can be obtained from your county clerk). Then the State Attorney must be sent a formal request to either oppose or not oppose the sealing or expungement, next a motion must be filed with the clerk and a hearing set before a circuit court judge. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will send a letter either confirming or denying eligibility for sealing or expunging your criminal record. Lastly you must set and conduct a hearing after noticing the State Attorney, Clerk, F.D.L.E. and the Judge. A sealed record exists but can only be shown to someone with a court order. An expunged record is legally deleted. Expungement is always better than sealing. The sealing and expungement statute lists those charges which cannot be sealed or expunged. Because of the complexity of the process and the effect of amendments over the years which have changed Florida’s sealing and expungment statute, most people seek the assistance of a Florida criminal attorney to handle a sealing and expungment request. Since 2006 the statute now requires that a judge sign and approve any sealing and expungement. Because setting and conducting hearings are complex, and the formalities and requirements of the sealing and expungement statute are both complex and confusing I suggest you find a South Florida Criminal lawyer for assistance. Most lawyers will gladly provide answers over the phone at no cost.

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