An arrest can come back to haunt you long after you have paid the penalties or served your time. If you have an arrest record in your past, you may find it difficult to land a job, find housing, or further your career. Landing a job is tough enough without worrying about a background check turning up an arrest that happened years ago.
Our justice system is predicated on the idea that everyone deserves a second chance and a shot at rehabilitation. If you made a mistake in your past, you shouldn’t have to live with the consequences of one poor decision for the rest of your life.
Fortunately, Florida law makes it possible to expunge and seal certain types of criminal records. Expungement and sealing of criminal records in Florida can be quite complicated, however, so it’s best to work with a criminal defense attorney to erase your record and make a fresh start. A criminal defense attorney can help you reduce, or completely remove, the embarrassment of dealing with a past arrest or conviction for some crimes.
What Happens to Your Criminal Record?
When an arrest record is expunged, it is physically destroyed and removed from most electronic databases. This means that arrest records, booking information, mugshots, fingerprint files, and court documents are no longer searchable by the public or the majority of law enforcement agencies.
Certain federal and state agencies, such as the Department of Education, and other entities may still have access to this information, but it is inaccessible in most places. More importantly, an expungement means that an individual can truthfully answer “no” on employment or housing applications that ask whether an applicant has ever been arrested.
There are, however, certain exceptions to this rule. Under Florida Law, an individual who has had a criminal record sealed cannot deny a criminal history when the person is:
- Applying for a job with a criminal justice agency
- A defendant in a criminal prosecution
- Petitioning for expungement or sealing of another criminal record
- Applying for admission to the state bar
- Seeking certain types of licensure with state agencies or the Department of Education
- Purchasing a firearm
When an arrest record is sealed, entities or individuals who want to view the information must obtain a court order before accessing it. In many cases, sealing works just as well as expungement.
What Charges Cannot Be Expunged or Sealed?
There is a lengthy list of criminal charges that are not eligible to be expunged or sealed under Florida law. The ineligible offenses include sexual misconduct under Section 393.135, kidnapping under Section 787.025, and assault under Section 784.011.
Consult with a Miami Criminal Defense Attorney
There are numerous other offenses that cannot be expunged or sealed, so it is important to consult an attorney before pursuing expungement or sealing of a criminal record.
Many people have things from their past they are embarrassed about, and working with a criminal defense attorney can help to make your humiliation about your past charges all but disappear.
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