For many individuals in the Orlando community, having a criminal record can lead to job barriers, loan restrictions, and housing limitations. Any application that requires a background check could result in an automatic rejection if it comes back with a criminal history. Expunging your criminal arrest records can keep this from happening to you.

What is expungement?

Record expungement or sealing is the process of getting your criminal record erased. In Florida Courts, you’re allowed to apply for one criminal offense to be expunged in a lifetime. 

After the approval of your seal and expungement process, a judge will issue an expungement order. This court order requires any government agency with your criminal records to remove them from the public record. You’ll also be allowed to deny that those records ever existed to certain employers and landlords.

Am I eligible to have my criminal Record Expunged?

Your eligibility varies state-by-state and can depend on several aspects of your case. In the state of Florida, your criminal record must meet the following requirements to qualify:

  • You were arrested but no charges were filed and no court proceedings occured
  • Your conviction was dismissed or ruled nolle prosequi (your charges were abandoned) by the state attorney or prosecutor
  • Your conviction was dismissed by a court or you were acquitted by a judge
  • You were not adjudicated guilty by a judge or jury
  • You have no other petitions for different criminal records, pending or completed (with the exception of an arrest record that’s already been sealed for 10 years)
  • You’re not seeking to erase a felony or a serious misdemeanor. This includes assault, battery, unlawful possession of a firearm, indecent exposure, arson, child neglect, animal cruelty, and more.

To see the full list of ineligible records, please see Florida Statute 943.0585

How can I expunge my criminal record in Orlando, Florida?

After you’ve determined your eligibility, the next step is completing a Certificate of Eligibility.

Certificate of Eligibility

In Florida, a Certificate of Eligibility must include:

  • An application for a Certificate of Eligibility. To complete this application, you’ll have to fill in some personal information and the details or your arrest record. It will also have to be signed and dated with a notary or a deputy clerk of the court present
  • A certified statement from the appropriate state attorney or statewide prosecutor that confirms your criminal history is eligible
  • A certified disposition for each criminal charge you’re hoping to have expunged. You may have to include a letter saying that you completed a pre-trial program.
  • A completed fingerprint form
  • A $75 processing fee made out to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement
  • A letter from your criminal defense attorney. This is so the court can send information to them about your application.

Petition

If the department approves your Certificate of Eligibility, your next step is filing a petition. This will need to be handed into the Clerk of Court in the county where you were arrested. Along with an official petition for expungement, you’ll need to file your Certificate of Eligibility and an affidavit. 

An affidavit is your sworn statement that, to the best of your knowledge, your records qualify for expungement in Florida. It also confirms that this is your only active or completed expungement petition. 

Having your criminal history record changed is a complicated process. Working with an experienced expungement attorney is the best way to make sure everything is completed correctly. The most minor mistake can lead to your petition being rejected. 

How long does it take to expunge my record?

Current processing time for expungement applications in the state of Florida is approximately 12 weeks. This is not a quick decision made by the court. Hours of research and consideration are dedicated to each application, which are reviewed in the order they were received in.

Call Smith & Eulo Law Firm at 407-930-8912 to speak with a qualified legal professional. We’re available 24/7 to discuss all the options for expunging your criminal record. Even if you were convicted of a crime, it may be possible to have your record sealed or expunged.