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A Quick Guide to Expungement

An expungement can remove a criminal record, which can make it easier to get a job, obtain living arrangements or even apply for a home loan. But, just because you are eligible to have something expunged doesn’t mean it will be approved nor does it mean everything will be miraculously erased from your criminal record.

This is why it is so important you work with a criminal attorney that understands this detailed process, and most importantly, the rules in your state regarding expungement.

The Basics of Expungement

An expungement is when your criminal record is physically removed from the system. It will look as though it never existed, which means that:

  • Your arrest record is removed from the police department that arrested you.
  • Employers and law enforcement officials will not see the past criminal record or arrest record that you have expunged.
  • Your name is removed from the county index by the Circuit Clerk.

What Types of Cases are Eligible for Expungement?

Not all case types can be expunged, so it is important to meet with a skilled criminal defense attorney to see if your case is eligible. You can typically expunge your record if you were not convicted of the crime. If you were arrested, charged, and then the charges were dismissed, you may still be eligible for expungement.

Also Read : Expunging a Criminal Record – Start Clean in 2015

Cases that are eligible for expungement include:

  • You were acquitted or released without being convicted of the crime.
  • The Governor issued a pardon for your case that states your record should be expunged.
  • Your order was entered into terminating probation, and the designated time frame for probation was completed.

What Cases are Not Eligible for Expungement?

While there are many instances that can qualify for expungement, there are an equal number that cannot. Some examples of cases that are not eligible include:

  • Any type of guilty plea or a guilty verdict in a case. Even if you plead guilty for a lesser punishment, you cannot expunge that record.
  • Sexual assault of a minor or anyone under the age of 18.
  • Condition discharge cases.
  • Certain types of probation cases.

If I Can’t Expunge, What are My Options?

Even though you cannot expunge your record, you may be able to seal your criminal record. A seal does not erase the record like an expungement, but if it is sealed, people cannot access it through public records. Police and court officials can, however, see that there is a sealed record under your name.

If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor and some minor felonies, you could still qualify for a record sealing. You will want to consult an attorney to see if your particular case qualifies as the state of Florida has strict restrictions as to what types of cases may be sealed.

What about Identity Theft Cases and Crimes?

Identity theft is on the rise. If someone stole your identity and committed a crime under that assumed identity, then it isn’t fair for you to walk around with a fictitious crime on your record. This type of process is different and requires the assistance of an attorney. Not only will you have to prove there was identity theft, but that the crime was committed by the person who stole your identity.

Also Read: Arrested for Identity Theft: What Charges Will I Face?

Expunging Your Case, If You Qualify

If you do qualify for expungement, you will have to go through a series of steps to get your case approved. Note that these do not work fast and in some cases, you could wait as long as a year for your record to officially be expunged.

You will have to file your request with the courts and you may be required to go to court to present your case. While rare, it can happen if you have a special type of case. That is why it is best to have a criminal defense attorney assist you with the expungement.

Why Should You Expunge Your Record?

If you are eligible to apply for an expungement, then you should take advantage of the opportunity. A criminal record of any kind can haunt you and even make it difficult to even enjoy your life. Criminal records aren’t like bad credit issues; they do not go away and will follow you until you address them.

If you are waiting to file for an expungement, here are a few reasons you should reconsider:

  • Insurance Issues – When you apply for insurance, they may perform a criminal background check along with a credit check. Any type of criminal record could increase your risk and liability to that insurance company. This means if you are approved, then you will likely be charged at a higher rate. Even if you were not convicted, that criminal record gives them the power to enforce a higher premium.
  • Loan Issues – If you want to apply for a loan, financial institutions may hesitate to give you one if you have a criminal record. That is because they will assume that you are a higher risk and may not repay that loan, especially if you are at risk for another arrest. For example, some students may not receive student loans if they have any form of criminal record.
  • Housing – If you apply for a rental property, the property owner will check your credit as well as do a criminal background check. Property owners have the right to refuse tenancy to anyone with a criminal background; therefore, your previous arrest – even if you were not convicted – could mean you are not able to get an apartment or even rent a house.
  • University Policies – A criminal record could mean you are expelled from a university. Some schools have strict policies in place that do not allow students with a criminal record to be on campus or attend their school. Also, you may be ineligible for any financial awards, grants, or honors as well as student housing, even if they let you attend the school with a criminal record.
  • Employment – Getting a job with a criminal record is very difficult. You will not only have to explain the arrest, but you may be automatically denied if you have any type of criminal record. If your job needs government security clearance, your record could permanently disrupt your ability to be cleared.
  • State Licenses – You may not be able to get a professional license, insurance or bonding if you have a criminal record. If you are a trade professional, such as an electrician or plumber, then this could threaten your livelihood.

Ready to Expunge Your Record? Call a Criminal Attorney That Understands Florida Laws

If you think you qualify for an expungement, then contact the team at the Law Office of Paul J. Donnelly today. Our attorneys can help you with your expungement case and discuss it with you with no obligations. Call now for your appointment.

Also Read : Expungement: Do You Qualify in the State of Florida?

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