Do you have a past arrest that continues to haunt you? Does it come up every time you fill out a job application? Are you worried about who else will learn of your "checkered past"? Under Florida law, it may be possible to erase those records or seal them from public view. You will be able to legally respond to questions about your criminal history as though the incident and arrest never occurred.
What Is Expungement?
Expungement (also called expunction) is the actual destruction of records. Once expunged your case will not come up on a public records check and you can lawfully deny the arrest ever occurred under most circumstances. Sealing of records means that the files are sealed out of public view and under most circumstances a court order is required for access. If your records are sealed you can lawfully deny the arrest ever occurred under most circumstances.
You may qualify for expungement or sealing if:
- Charges were dismissed by the court or withdrawn by prosecutors, or
- Adjudication was withheld (you were not adjudicated guilty by the court)
However, you cannot expunge or seal records if:
- You were ever adjudicated guilty of any crime in Florida
- You previously expunged/sealed records in a different case
Can Any Arrest Be Expunged?
Many crimes such as shoplifting and theft, drug possession, assault, disorderly conduct, juvenile crimes and even some felony offenses can be cleared. Unfortunately, there is a long list of offenses that cannot be sealed or expunged, unless you were found not guilty, charges were dismissed, the State attorney filed a No Information or the grand jury returned a No True Bill.
These offenses include:
A more detailed list is found below.
Limitations on Sealed and Expunged Records
When is a person required to acknowledge a sealed or expunged record? Sealed or expunged records must be acknowledged when the person:
- Is a candidate for employment to a criminal justice agency
- Is a defendant in a criminal prosecution
- Requests that another case be sealed or expunged
- Is a candidate for admission to the Florida Bar (to become an attorney)
- Is seeking to be employed or licensed, or to contract with the Department of Children and Families or the Department of Juvenile Justice
- Is seeking to be employed by the Department of Education, any school or any childcare facility
- Is seeking employment from a seaport
What Does It Cost?
The usual fee to seal or expunge your records is $1,500 if The Law Office of Timothy Hessinger handled the case that you are seeking to seal or expunge, or $1,000 if we did not handle the case to be sealed or expunged. There are also costs of $75 to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and approximately $75 to the Clerk of the Court.
Disqualifying Charges for Expunction/Sealing
A request for expunction or sealing of a criminal history record will be denied if the person was found guilty or pled guilty or nolo contendere, even if the adjudication of guilt was withheld, on any violation of the following:
- Offenses listed in S.907.041, F.S.
- Aggravated Assault
- Aggravated Battery
- Illegal use of explosives
- Child abuse or Aggravated Child Abuse
- Abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult, or aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult
- Aircraft piracy
- Sexual Battery
- Lewd, lascivious, or indecent assault or act upon or in the presence of a child under the age of 16 years
- Sexual activity with a child, who is 12 years of age or older but less than 18 years of age, by or at solicitation of a person in familial or custodial authority
- Burglary of a dwelling
- Stalking and Aggravated Stalking
- Act of Domestic Violence as defined in s. 741.28
- Home-invasion Robbery
- Act of Terrorism as defined by s. 775.30
- Manufacturing any substances in violation of chapter 893
- Attempting or conspiring to commit any of the above crimes
- S.393.135, F.S.
- Sexual misconduct with a developmentally disabled person and related offenses
- S.394.4593, F.S.
- Sexual misconduct with a mental health patient and related offenses
- S.787.025, F.S.
- Luring or enticing a child
- Chapter 794, F.S.
- Sexual Battery and related offenses
- S.796.03, F.S.
- Procuring a person under 18 for prostitution
- S.800.04, F.S.
- Lewd or lascivious offenses committed upon or in the presence of persons less than 16 years of age
- S. 810.14, F.S.
- S.817.034, F.S.
- Florida Communication Fraud Act
- (Scheme to Defraud or Organized Fraud, as used in s.817.034, F.S.)
- S.825.1025, F.S.
- Lewd or lascivious offense upon or in the presence of an elderly person or disabled person
- S.827.071, F.S.
- Sexual performance by a child
- Chapter 839, F.S.
- Offenses By Public Officers and Employees.
- S.847.0133, F.S.
- Showing, selling, etc., obscene literature to a minor
- S.847.0135, F.S.
- Computer pornography
- S.847.0145, F.S.
- Selling or buying of minors
- S.893.135, F.S.
- Trafficking in controlled substances
- S 916.1075, F.S.
- Sexual misconduct with a mentally deficient or mentally ill person and related offenses
Effect of Criminal History on Record Expunction
Any criminal history record of a minor or an adult which is ordered expunged by a court of competent jurisdiction must be physically destroyed or obliterated by any criminal justice agency having custody of such record; except that any criminal history record in the custody of the department must be retained in all cases. A criminal history record ordered expunged that is retained by the department is confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution and not available to any person or entity except upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction. A criminal justice agency may retain a notation indicating compliance with an order to expunge.
Effect of Criminal History on Record Sealing
A criminal history record of a minor or an adult which is ordered sealed by a court of competent jurisdiction is confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution and is available only to the person who is the subject of the record, to the subject's attorney, to criminal justice agencies for their respective criminal justice purposes, which include conducting a criminal history background check for approval of firearms purchases or transfers as authorized by state or federal law, or to other entities set forth in the statute.
Our St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Tampacriminal attorney can determine if you qualify for expunging or sealing your past arrest. Contact us today to discuss your specific case.
- All charges dropped. 2 Counts Battery
- Reduced to 3 Counts. Wh/Adj 3 years probation. 5 Counts Possession of Child Pornography
- Reduced to 2 counts. Wh/Adj and probation. 9 Counts - Possession of Child Pornography.
- Not Guilty after Jury Trial Aggravated Assault with a Firearm
- All charges Dropped. Aggravated Assault With Motor Vehicle
- Reduced to Felony Battery, dismissed, sealed. Aggravated Battery
Our Clients Share Their Experience
I was very satisfied with his services and he was the best attorney that I have had the experience working with.Lloyd Law, Jr.
I have referred clients to him over the years with the confidenceLegal Professional
Brilliant and fearless advocateLegal Professional
15 years experience in the State Attorney's office
Confidential, complimentary initial consultations
Accepting calls and cases 24 hours a day
Exclusively devoted to criminal defense
Named Prosecutor of the Year in 2004
Impressive track record of charge reductions, acquittals, and dismissals