Going through life with a criminal record can have detrimental consequences on important parts of your life like finding a job and buying a home. If you have a criminal history and would like to clear your record to better your life, you may be in luck.
There’s a number of different situations where your record can be expunged or sealed. Typically, juvenile cases are sealed once the defendant reaches adulthood unless they were charged as an adult. Juveniles are usually only tried as adults when the crime they committed was a serious felony.
Adults must qualify for expungement or sealing of their criminal record. Unfortunately, it’s not up to you whether you will qualify. To understand what your outlook is for expungement; you’ll want to consult an experienced criminal defense team in your area to help you navigate the sealing or expungement process.
Our criminal defense team at Smith & Eulo has over 20 years of experience in expungement and criminal cases in Miami, FL. Contact us for a free consultation to assess whether or not you or your loved one may qualify for expungement or sealing.
What Is the Expungement Process?
The process of expungement involves destroying your record of criminal history and completely removes your criminal record from your background. You must apply for expungement, and if it is approved, the judge of your case will issue an expungement order to all government entities requesting them to remove your criminal record from any public records.
Eligibility for Expungement
Before you can walk away with your record cleared, you must first determine if you’re eligible for expungement at all. The first thing to note is that in order to be eligible you cannot previously have expunged your record. The state of Florida only allows one criminal record to be expunged or sealed in one lifetime.
If this is your first time seeking expungement then you must make sure you meet the other qualifications for expungement in Florida:
- You have not received any criminal charges against you or have had any court hearings since you were arrested
- Your case was dismissed by the prosecutor or ruled nolle prosequi
- You were never formally judged or adjudicated guilty
- Your case was acquitted by a judge
- You have no other petitions for expungement (doesn’t apply to records that have been sealed for more than 10 years)
- Your records that you want expunged aren’t for a felony or serious misdemeanor like assault, battery, unlawful possession of a firearm or other serious offenses
To see the full list of eligible records, see Florida Statute 943.0585. But, your best bet is to take advantage of a free consultation with a trusted attorney.
Obtain Your Certificate of Eligibility
So, you’ve determined that you are eligible for expungement. Great! Now, you must complete an application for Certificate of Eligibility. You must submit personal details and details of your arrest in the application.
The certificate also requires the following:
- Your fingerprint
- A certified statement confirmed your record is eligible for expungement by the Florida state attorney or prosecutor
- A letter from your criminal defense attorney
- The disposition of every criminal charge that you want expunged
- A $75 processing fee to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement
Once you have all of this, you must get the certificate notarized by a designated notary of the court.
Petition for Expungement
The last step for you is to complete a petition for expungement. You will officially file your petition with the Clerk of Court in your arresting county. Your petition will include your Certificate of Eligibility and a sworn statement from you that your records are eligible for expungement in Florida.
It should be noted that there’s a difference between the expunging and sealing of your records.
Sealing Your Records in Florida
Expungement means your records are destroyed forever. With sealing, your record still technically exists, but it is confidential, and the record is only available to you, your lawyer, and criminal justice agencies. It is only available to these entities for the purposes of background checks for firearm purchases or transfers.
In order to qualify for sealing in Florida, you must meet the following requirements:
You plead guilty or no contest and the court withheld the adjudication of guilt, or you were found guilty after trial and the court withheld the adjudication of guilt, and the offenses you were found guilty of do not prohibit your records from being sealed
- You have not been convicted of a crime in Florida
- You have never expunged or sealed your records in Florida
- Any juvenile felonies or misdemeanors were automatically expunged (that resulted in adjudication of delinquency)
Contact an Expungement Lawyer in Miami, FL Today
As you can tell, the process of expungement or sealing in Florida is complicated and requires precision and detailed paperwork that must be signed and certified in a certain manner. Any small mistake or misstep may result in rejection of your petition.
By choosing a criminal defense lawyer that specializes in expungement and sealing in Miami, you’re ensuring you complete this process 100% accurately. This will give you the best possible chance at officially expunging or sealing your record.
Once you’ve worked with an expungement attorney on your certification and petition, you will have to wait for the court’s response to approve or reject your application. Officials scrutinize every application, and you can be waiting up to 12 weeks for a response.
If you want to clear your criminal record, contact our lawyers at Smith & Eulo who have over two decades of experience working on expungement cases in Miami. Contact us today for a free consultation we also offer payment plans.
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