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What is the difference between sealing and expunging a record?

A strong criminal defense attorney can help you through the entire cycle of a criminal proceeding, even after the criminal investigation or trial has concluded. For example, if an individual was arrested but never indicted, he or she may not want to have a criminal record.

As background, criminal history records are generally public in Florida. Fortunately, Florida law offers two types of relief: records may be sealed or expunged. The two types of relief are distinct, even though they may be erroneously interchanged by speakers.

With a sealed record, the public no longer has access. However, certain government agencies may still be able to view details about the incident, such as the arrest, fingerprinting, and outcome. Expunction, in contrast, is a more complete form of relief. No individual or entity may access a criminal record that has been expunged without a court order.

An individual must specifically request either type of relief. Yet the laws pertaining to such requests can be complicated to navigate. For example, there are eligibility requirements. Some criminal events, such as a not guilty verdict, may not be expunged until after they have been sealed for a minimum of 10 years. Other events, such as a dismissal before the criminal trial even began, might quality to be expunged immediately.

Our Florida criminal defense law firm understands that obstacles and denied opportunities might result from a criminal record. Fortunately, we have helped many clients petition the Florida criminal justice system to have their record sealed or expunged. We help our clients understand whether they might be eligible, and offer assistance helping them move on with their lives.

Source: “Frequently Asked Questions,” copyright 2016, Florida Department of Law Corrections

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