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How can I get my criminal record expunged or sealed in Florida?

If you have a criminal past, then you may find it difficult to find employment, to qualify for certain certifications or to secure housing in many areas. One of the reasons you may pursue an expungement of your records is to have the details of your prior offense sealed from public view.

In the event a judge allows an expungement of your criminal record, it will generally appear as expunged, and the record will list the relevant state statute number under which the expungement was ordered. When an expungement occurs, any further inquiry into the details of your prior offense will only be accessible through a court-ordered search warrant.

The requirements that a Florida resident, whether juvenile or adult, must meet in order to have their criminal record either expunged or sealed are spelled out in Sections 943.0585 and 943.059 of the state statutes.

One of the first steps to getting this process started is for the applicant to request an eligibility certificate from Florida's Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). Being awarded such a certificate serves as confirmation that you've met all the necessary statutory requirements to qualify for your records to be sealed or expunged in Florida.

Even if you are granted this certificate, there's no guarantee that a judge will ultimately grant your expungement or record sealing request. Instead, it merely qualifies you to have your case heard in open court. A judge ultimately reserves the right to decide whether he or she believes that you're made the necessary life changes to be considered rehabilitated.

Often times, having a crime-free track record since your original offense and being gainfully employed favorably reflect on the individuals seeking an expungement or the sealing of their records. Having paid off any outstanding court fees as well as restitution to any victims is likely required to qualify for this as well.

If you're considering applying for an expungement, then a Shalimar, Florida criminal law attorney familiar with the sealing of criminal records can provide guidance in your case.

Source: Florida Department of Law Enforcement, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed Jan. 05, 2018

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