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Criminal Record Expungement As A Fresh Start

Mistakes in life are unavoidable. When someone makes a mistake and ends up on the wrong side of the law, they could be paying for that mistake throughout their life. Fortunately, in some instances the law recognizes the need for a fresh start and allows for the expungement of a criminal record. For a person with a criminal record who has encountered difficulty when seeking employment as a result of that criminal record, expungement is a great opportunity to put the past behind.

What is Expungement?

Criminal record expungement refers to the process by which a court orders law enforcement agencies and court clerks to remove a person’s eligible criminal history from their records or databases. In Florida this means that a person whose criminal record is expunged may deny or fail to acknowledge their criminal history except in certain cases, some of which include:

  • When applying for employment with a criminal justice agency;
  • When being tried as a defendant in a criminal case;
  • When applying to the Florida Bar for admission; and
  • When applying for employment with the Florida Department of Education, Department of Children and Family Services and several other government agencies.

Under Florida law, you can only have certain records expunged. These are:

  • Arrest records for arrests that did not result in prosecution;
  • Records for cases that were dismissed; and
  • Records for cases where you were acquitted after trial.

If you were adjudicated guilty, whether it was a misdemeanor or felony, then your record cannot be expunged.

The process to expunge a criminal record involves filing to receive a Certificate of Eligibility from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The application for this involves a section to be completed by the state attorney or statewide prosecutor’s office. In addition, the applicant has to provide fingerprints and other personal identifying information.

How is Expungement Different from Sealing?

When a criminal record is sealed, access to the record becomes highly restricted to the general public, but the record is still retained by the court clerk and the arresting agency. However, the record would be available to members of the public with a court order to unseal the record. This differs from the expungement process because with expungement the record is destroyed or erased.

What About a Pardon?

For people who were convicted of the charged crimes or are otherwise ineligible for expungement or sealing, they can make an application to be pardoned as a way to regain civil rights to vote, hold public office or serve on a jury. However, as the Florida Supreme Court has held, a pardon does not mean that a person can get their record expunged or sealed. Because a pardon follows a conviction, the law still restricts expungement of a convicted person’s criminal record despite a pardon.

Contact a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have a criminal record that is keeping you from moving forward in your life or career, you may be able to get you record expunged for an opportunity at a fresh start. Consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can advise you on the particular facts of your case. Contact the Clearwater criminal defense attorneys at Roman & Roman, P.A.

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