Nothing good ever came out of a criminal record. A criminal record has far-reaching consequences; it can affect college scholarships, college applications, athletics (playing for a college team), employment, housing, security clearance, military careers, and professional licenses. Under Section 943.053 of the Florida Statutes, adult criminal record histories are public, unless a record has been expunged or sealed.
What is the difference between a sealed record and a record that has been expunged? If a criminal record has been “sealed,” it means the court has placed it under highly restricted access. An expunged record on the other hand, has been physically removed from the record systems. It also means that it’s been destroyed. Clearly, an expungement, also called an “expunction” is the preferred choice.
When your criminal records are expunged, they can no longer haunt you the way they did before. You can legally deny that the incident ever occurred and this can speak volumes when you’re applying for a job or professional license.
In Florida, there are seven types of expungements available:
- An administrative expungement under Section 943.0581 of the Florida Statutes. This is for adult and juvenile arrests that were made by mistake or contrary to law.
- A sealing or expungement that is court-ordered pursuant to Section 943.059 of the Florida Statutes.
- A juvenile diversion expungement under Section 943.0582 of the Florida Statutes. This is reserved for individuals who completed a pre-arrest or post-arrest diversion program for an offense that was a non-violent misdemeanor, not involving domestic violence.
- An expungement for using lawful self-defense under Section 943.0585(5) of the Florida Statutes.
- A human trafficking expungement under Section 943.0583 of the Florida Statutes.
- Automatic expungements for juveniles under Section 943.0515 of the Florida Statutes.
- Early juvenile expungements under Section 943.0515(1)(b)2 of the Florida Statutes.
How Do I Get My Criminal Record Expunged?
In order for an adult’s criminal records to be expunged (or sealed) in Florida, the applicant must meet the criteria set forth in Sections 943.0585 and 943.059. If you are interested in expunging your criminal records, first you’ll need to apply to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) for what’s called a “Certificate of Eligibility.”