“How do I know if I have a record? I got arrested once and they dropped the case so I don’t have a record . . . right?” Answer: WRONG. The only way to truly know whether YOU have a record is to contact the Florida Department of Law Enforcement through the Federal Crime Information Center (run by the FBI for National) and the Florida Crime Information Center (run as the Florida Version of the Federal System and tied to the Federal System but maintained through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for each and every law enforcement agency in the State of Florida).
In Florida, especially here in Tallahassee, I see young people (mostly college students) who tell me they don’t have a record. Interesting point, since just before that statement they also tell me they have a prior Minor in Possession of Alcohol charge but “I did diversion, so its not on my record.”
I always have to drill a little deeper and ask, “How do you know you don’t have a record and who told you that you don’t have a record?” The proverbial almost verbatim answer: “Well, they dropped the case so I don’t have a record? Right?” Long pause from me. It depends. Did you receive a written arrest (then I have to explain that a written arrest can be a citation, a piece of paper you signed, etc.) or did you get booked into the jail? The answer: “They gave me a court date.” BINGO! I then become the bearer of bad news: “You do have a record and you were arrested so those are two things to make sure you check on every job application because if you don’t, they will not offer you the job or fire you later because you put on your job application: never arrested and no record. Doesn’t seem right, does it? Nothing could be further from reality. Diversion and other similar agreements made with the State create a “myth of diversion” that give the false appearance of having a “clean” record.
The closest you can get to clearing your record is utilizing the seal and expunge provisions in Florida statute. In addition to seal and expunge options, you may also apply for clemency in many forms and forums, depending on the political climate at the time of hearing and the recommendation process with the governor and the cabinet.
Then there is the whole internet thing with booking lists and mug shots published on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and all other forums in addition to social media.
Getting a seal and expunge does not clear negative items from your internet presence, but I will save that discussion for another blog. If you have a criminal charge and are interested in sealing or expunging your records, contact our attorneys who are experienced in DUI Expungement in Florida, as well as sealing and expunging other criminal charges.
Remember, if there is any topic that you would like discussed involving the Criminal Justice system with a specific focus on arrests, criminal defense or criminal trial, please contact us with your questions and concerns. We are always looking for good topics to write on and want to help explain the process in an effort to you informed.
Attorney Don Pumphrey, Jr. is a former prosecutor, former law enforcement officer, and a successful and experienced criminal defense attorney. Don has achieved over 100 not guilty verdicts at trial and over 2,000 dismissals.
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