Having a criminal or arrest record can limit one’s chances of getting hired, gaining admission in colleges and universities, obtaining housing, and qualifying for certain licenses. In many application forms for employment, admission, and other entry forms, an applicant is often required to disclose any previous criminal arrests or criminal record.
A single mistake that you have learned from, or a charge that was dropped or dismissed, need not hound you for the rest of your life. Depending on the circumstances of your arrest or criminal record, you may be able to qualify for expungement and effectively remove your past record from public view.
Who Can Apply for Expungement?
An essential requirement for expungement is the applicant’s eligibility which is established by a Certificate of Eligibility obtained at the appropriate department. Under Section 943.0585 of the Florida Statutes, you can apply for expungement if:
- You have been arrested but not convicted;
- You have no prior expungement of a previous criminal record, even in another state;
- You have no pending petition to seal or expunge another criminal record
In addition, the criminal record or history sought to be expunged must not relate to specific offenses such as:
- Sexual misconduct (under Sec. 393.135 and 916.1075)
- Kidnapping, false imprisonment, luring or enticing a child and other custody offenses (under Section 787.025)
- Lewd or luscious offenses (under Sec. 800.04)
- Voyeurism (Sec. 810.14)
- Fraudulent practices under the Florida Communications Fraud Act (Sec. 817.034)
- Lewd or Lascivious offense upon an elderly or disabled person
- Sexual abuse of children (Sec. 827.071)
- Acts of obscenity involving minors (Sec. 847.0133)
- Computer pornography (Sec. 847.0135)
- Selling or buying minors (Sec. 847.0145)
- Drug trafficking ( Sec. 893.135)
Effects of Expungement
No Public Access
An expunged record will not appear or show up in criminal background checks and will not be available for public viewing. Some government agencies, however, may still have access to expunged criminal records, such as:
- Department of Children and Families
- Florida Board of Education
- Florida Bar Association, and
- Florida Department of Law Enforcement
Legal Denial of Prior Arrest or Record
An expunged record will also allow the affected individual to legally deny or fail to acknowledge the arrests covered by the expunged history. But in some instances, you may still have to acknowledge an expunged criminal arrest when:
- Applying for employment in a criminal justice agency
- You are a defendant in a criminal prosecution
- You are a candidate for admission to the Florida Bar
- Applying for employment, license, or contract with certain agencies such as the Department of Children and Families
- Applying for guardianship
No Liability for Perjury
You may also not be held liable for perjury or for giving a false statement for failing to mention or acknowledge an expunged criminal record in sworn statements such as those found in employment and other applications.
How to Apply for Expungement
The first thing to do if you wish to apply for expungement in Florida is to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney about your situation. The legal procedure and rules surrounding expungement can be complicated. In addition to establishing eligibility, you must also be able to submit a petition for expungement, containing the required statements for the court’s consideration.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, your lawyer must first determine whether you are eligible for expungement and if eligible, obtain the certificate of eligibility and prepare the petition for expungement.
In Stuart, Florida, the Law Offices of Keith Bregoff, PA have been helping clients obtain a fresh start by filing for expungement. Attorney Keith Bregoff has more than 2 decades of criminal law experience in a wide range of criminal cases, including petitions for expungement of records. Call us today at (772) 492-8967 to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Bregoff and learn more about how we can help you.