What Kinds of Expungement Are Available in Florida?
The short-term, direct consequences of a criminal conviction, like high fines and extended court supervision, are bad enough. The long-term, collateral consequences could be even worse. Common long-term consequences include immigration and travel issues, security clearance problems, and employment issues. These effects fade over time but never completely disappear.
So, a Tampa criminal defense lawyer works just as hard after the judge’s gavel falls, to limit or eliminate these consequences. Several recent legal changes have transformed Florida from one of the strictest expungement/sealing states in the country to one of the most liberal jurisdictions. Most defendants are eligible for at least one form of relief discussed below.
Court-Ordered Sealing or Expungement
If a person receives a Certificate of Eligibility to Seal or Expunge his/her criminal history record from the FDLE, s/he may be eligible for court-ordered sealing or expungement. Most non-sexual offenses are eligible for relief.
Expungement is the complete elimination of all judicial, law enforcement, and other conviction and arrest records. It’s like it never happened. Sealing hides these records from everyone except judicial personnel, law enforcement, some state licensing agencies, and a few other individuals. People with sealed records may legally answer “no” when asked about them.
Juvenile Diversion Expungement
A person who has completed an authorized juvenile diversion program for a misdemeanor offense or for a felony offense, other than a forcible felony or a felony involving the manufacture, sale, purchase, transport, possession, or use of a firearm or weapon, may apply for a juvenile diversion expungement. Pretrial diversion is a pretrial remedy that’s usually available in nonviolent cases, if a Tampa criminal defense lawyer asks for it.
Lawful Self-Defense Expungement
A person may apply for a Lawful Self-Defense Certificate of Eligibility if the appropriate state attorney or statewide prosecutor certifies that the subject acted in lawful self-defense pursuant to the provisions related to justifiable use of force in Chapter 776, Florida Statutes, and the charge(s) were not filed on, or were dismissed by the state attorney or the court.
Human Trafficking Expungement
These victims are often forced into committing acts of prostitution or other illegal acts. A person who is a victim of human trafficking may petition for the expungement of a criminal history record resulting from the arrest or filing of charges for an offense committed or reported to have been committed as a part of the human trafficking scheme of which s/he was a victim.
Automatic Juvenile Expungement
The criminal history record of a minor maintained by FDLE will automatically be expunged (by operation of law) at the age of 21, or (if the minor was committed to a juvenile correctional facility or juvenile prison) age 26, provided certain conditions are satisfied (i.e., not having been charged with or convicted of a forcible felony as an adult or when treated as an adult).
Early Juvenile Expungement
A person between the ages of 18 and 21 may, under certain conditions, apply to have their juvenile criminal history record expunged by FDLE. A person may apply to the appropriate prosecuting attorney to approve the expungement of his/her FDLE juvenile criminal history record if the subject has not been charged with or found to have committed any criminal offense within the preceding five years.
The criminal history record maintained by FDLE will automatically be sealed when the Clerk of the Court submits a qualifying certified disposition to FDLE, via electronic means.
Reach Out to a Savvy Hillsborough County Attorney
A criminal charge is not the same thing as a criminal conviction. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, contact the OA Law Firm. Convenient payment plans are available.