Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu
Tampa Criminal Attorney
Free Consultation Call 24/7

If You've Been Arrested in Tampa Bay or Surrounding Areas, We Can Help You Immediately!

Tampa Criminal Attorney > Blog > Criminal Defense > Sealing and Expunging Criminal Records in Florida

Sealing and Expunging Criminal Records in Florida


This process is governed by Section 943.045 of the Florida Statutes. Expunction is like a magic wand that wipes out all traces of a criminal record. Sealing is like using White-Out to redact a criminal record. If you don’t know what White-Out is, feel free to Google it. Some state agencies, mostly law enforcement agencies, can see through the White-Out. However, for most purposes, the record is invisible.

A Tampa probation and expungement lawyer keeps working for defendants after the judge’s gavel falls. We handle probation and parole violation matters, as well as expunction and sealing matters. The many benefits of these proceedings include avoiding discovery of a criminal incident by colleges and universities, protection against forced disclosure to employers and other interested persons, preventing a record from popping up unexpectedly on background checks, and circumventing workplace policies that prevent advancement for employees with criminal histories.

Sealing a Record

Most first-time offenders are eligible for record sealing, even if they plead guilty to the offense. Florida, unlike other states, doesn’t have an automatic sealing law, even for juvenile offenses. If you want this relief, a Tampa criminal defense lawyer must ask for it.

Unless the matter involved a prohibited offense, defendants are eligible for record sealing as soon as they finish servicing their sentences, whether that sentence was jail or probation. Some ineligible offenses include:

  • Most domestic violence offenses,
  • Drug trafficking,
  • Aggravated felonies (murder, child abuse, sexual battery, etc.), and
  • Most sex offenses.

Tampa criminal defense lawyers often have an eye toward sealing driving plea bargain negotiations. Domestic battery is a good example. This offense cannot be sealed, but a conviction for ordinary assault is an eligible offense. Therefore, if prosecutors agree to change the charges, the defendant might agree to pay a higher fine or serve a longer probationary term.

These qualifications are only the minimum qualifications. The judge won’t sign the petition unless sealing is in the best interests of society and the best interests of the defendant.

Expunging a Record

Expungement eligibility requirements are much more rigorous. In addition to a first-time offense requirement, the to-be-expunged charge must have been nol-prossed or no-billed.

Nol-prosse (not prosecuted) is basically a pretrial dismissal based on lack of probable cause, such as a lack of evidence. Dismissals based on prosecutorial discretion or made as part of a plea bargain usually aren’t eligible for expungement, although they might be eligible for sealing.

Once again, an attorney’s negotiation skills often come into play. It usually costs prosecutors nothing to add an NP note to a dismissal. A Tampa criminal defense lawyer must simply ask, at least in most cases.

Judges usually reject bare-bones expungement and sealing requests. They usually approve these requests if the defendant’s probation officer, and any alleged victim, agrees to the petition. The judge might approve the petition if the probation officer and/or alleged victim agrees not to fight it.

One final word about executive pardons, which basically have the same effect as expungements. An executive pardon is a long shot, but certainly not a shot in the dark. In most cases, this option is at least worth exploring, especially if the defendant completed his/her sentence at least ten years earlier. After that much time passes, most people don’t care anymore.

 Connect With a Diligent Hillsborough County Attorney

A criminal charge is not the same thing as a criminal conviction. For a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, contact the OA Law Firm. We routinely handle matters throughout the Sunshine State.



Facebook Twitter LinkedIn
Client Reviews

"I was in the unfortunate situation of having to hire a lawyer for my grandson and since I did not know of anyone that could refer me, I had to rely on my judgement of character and when I sat down in front of Omar, I knew that I had made the right decision. He is a very professional, well versed in the law, knowledgeable young man that takes the time to explain every aspect of your case to you. He returns calls promptly, knows your case inside out and is very punctual in meetings and court hearings. I could not have chosen a better, more qualified lawyer to represent my grandson. He comes highly recommended by me and you will not go wrong in obtaining his services."

- Gloria

"It is with pleasure that we wish to recommend Mr. Omar Abdelghany in his practice as a Criminal Defense Attorney. He was hired in the defense of our son. The defense included more than one offense, which required legal maneuvering to address the issues. Omar's skills came into play in positioning the case, which resulted in a good outcome given the facts at hand."

- Ted

"Lawyer Abdelghany, has been a tremendous blessing and stress reliever, not only to me but also to my family members in need of professional help. He was understanding of my situation and worked with me financially. I am overall grateful for him and would refer all my family and friends to hire him."

- Khalil G.
View More