If you’ve been convicted of a crime in Tampa, Florida, you know how a criminal record can impact your life. From job prospects that require a background check to housing and loan applications, your past mistakes can continue affecting your future for the rest of your life.
Record expungement or sealing is a great choice for people with qualifying records to clear their permanent records. Contact us today, our experienced expungement lawyers here at Smith & Eulo are ready to discuss your options for getting your life back on track.
What is the process of expungement?
The process of record expungement or sealing involves completing a slew of paperwork and filing it with your arresting county court. If your application for expungement is approved, the judge presiding over your case will issue an expungement order to all government agencies with your records, asking them to remove your records from the public. You’ll also be legally allowed to deny that you were ever convicted of a crime to landlords and certain employers.
The first step in record expungement in Tampa, Florida, is determining whether the record you want expunged is eligible. First, you cannot have had a previous record expunged or any pending record expungements: Florida allows only one criminal record to be removed or sealed for a lifetime.
If this is true, you must next ensure that your record aligns with the other qualifiers for expungement in Florida. These include the following:
- No charges were filed against you and no court proceedings occurred after you were arrested
- Your case was dismissed by the state prosecutor or ruled nolle prosequi (your charges were abandoned)
- You were acquitted by a judge
- You were never adjudicated guilty
- You have no other pending or completed petitions for different criminal records to be expunged (this doesn’t apply to arrest records that have been sealed for 10+ years)
- The record you want expunged or sealed isn’t a felony or a serious misdemeanor, such as assault, unlawful possession of a firearm, battery, indecent exposure, and more.
Florida Statute 943.0585 lists the full selection of eligible records. However, the best way to check if you’re eligible is by contacting an attorney.
The full process of record expungement involves the following:
Certificate of Eligibility
First, you have to complete a Certificate of Eligibility. This application requires you to report personal details and the details of your arrest.
The certificate will also need:
- A certified statement confirming that your record is eligible for expungement from the state attorney or prosecutor
- The disposition for each criminal charge you want expunged.
- A fingerprint form
- A $75 processing fee for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement
- A letter from your criminal defense attorney, so that the court will communicate directly with them
As a last step, it needs to be signed and dated by a designated notary or deputy clerk of court present.
Petition for Expungement
The next step is to complete a petition for expungement. You’ll be filing your petition with the Clerk of Court in your arresting county. It will need to have your completed certificate and your sworn statement that your records qualify for expungement in Florida to the best of your knowledge.
Contact an Expungement Lawyer in Tampa, FL Today
Both the petition and certificate include complex, detail-oriented processes where even one missed step could result in the rejection of your petition for expungement. By working with an experienced expungement lawyer, you’ll ensure that your application is done correctly for your best shot at clearing your qualifying records.
The last step is waiting. After the court has received your petition, they’ll dedicate hours of research and consideration before deciding to approve or reject your application. The entire deliberation process could take about 12 weeks.
If you or your loved one are in need of information on Expungement, call us at 813-359-8667 to speak with a qualified legal professional or fill out the contact form on this page. We’re available 24/7, we offer free initial consultation and payment plans. In addition to our Tampa office, we have offices in the following cities across the state of Florida:
*Additional Orlando Florida & Orange County Legal Resources