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Sealing or expunging a criminal record: The facts

If you want to have your criminal record sealed or expunged, you need to meet the criteria set forth by law. You need to apply first for a certificate of eligibility. If you are issued this certificate, you may be able to get your record sealed or expunged, but receiving the certificate doesn't guarantee it. In many cases, individuals wishing to have their records sealed work with their attorneys to help make sure they provide the court with everything possible to make that seal possible.

You can get the Certification of Eligibility application at any Clerk of Courts office in the State of Florida. They are located in the criminal division of the courthouse.

Why would I want to expunge or seal a record if charges against me were dropped?

Unless your record has been sealed or expunged, the public can still see that you were tried or taken to court for a criminal act, even if you were not found guilty. By sealing your record, the public can no longer see any of those transgressions.

Is there a difference between expunging and sealing a record?

Yes, a record that has been sealed is sealed away from the public, but governmental agencies still have access in many cases. If your record has been expunged, it's different. The governmental agencies would know you had a record expunged, but they would not have access to that record in full.

These are just a few of the questions you may have and information on sealing or expunging your record. Your attorney can help you file the correct paperwork when you're ready to put your past behind you.

Source: Florida Department of Law Enforcement, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed Jan. 05, 2017

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