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Seal or Expunge Criminal Record

Seal or Expunge Criminal Record

If your past includes a criminal record you want to keep private, or if you are seeking a new job or educational opportunities, you may want to have your criminal record sealed or expunged.

The state of Florida allows public access to criminal history records, so anyone with access to the internet can retrieve public data, including your criminal history information. Criminal history is defined as a record that is created when a person is arrested and fingerprinted. It contains the disposition of the charge, including whether it’s a conviction, acquittal, dismissal of charges before trial, or any other disposition.

To prevent your criminal history record from adversely affecting your future, you should consider hiring an attorney to help you expunge or seal your criminal record.

Tallahassee Attorney for Criminal Record Sealing

Call Pumphrey Law today at (850) 681-7777 for a consultation on sealing or expunging your criminal record. Our attorneys are knowledgeable regarding how to seal and expunge criminal records in Florida. Our firm represents individuals throughout Leon County, Liberty County, Jefferson County, and Gadsden County. An experienced Tallahassee criminal defense attorney can help you take the important next steps in regaining your future.

Seal or Expunge Criminal Record Information Center

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What is the Difference between Sealing and Expunging Your Record?

In the state of Florida, “sealing” and “expunging” are two terms referring to the legal processes dealing with a person’s criminal record. Both definitions are provided under Florida Statute Section 943.045:

Sealing a Criminal Record The preservation of a record under such circumstances that is secure and inaccessible to any person not having a legal right of access to the record or information contained and preserved therein.
When a criminal record is sealed, it means the public does not have access to it. The data is removed from the Criminal Information Justice System, and the record will not show up on a background check. However, specified governmental entities will still have access to it, including law enforcement agencies. After your criminal record has been sealed for 10 years, you may ask the Court to destroy the record.

Expunging a Criminal Record The court ordered physical destruction or obliteration of a record or portion of a record by any criminal justice agency having custody thereof, or prescribed by the court issues the order.

When a criminal record is expunged, it is destroyed, except for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) keeping one copy of the record. This is for instances where the order to expunge is vacated by a court. However, no one else can view it without a court order. Those entities who have access to a sealed record will receive a statement indicating criminal information has been expunged from this record, but they will have no access to the record itself.

Eligibility to Seal or Expunge Your Criminal Record in Florida

Under Florida Statute Section 943.059, a person is eligible to petition a court to seal their criminal history record if:

  • The person has never been adjudicated guilty or delinquent for any felony or serious misdemeanor offense;
  • The person is no longer under court supervision; and
  • The person has never had a criminal record sealed or expunged before.

Under Florida Statute Section 943.0585, a person is eligible to petition a court to expunge their criminal history record if:

  • An indictment, information, or other charging document was not filed or issued in the person’s case giving rise to the criminal history record;
  • An indictment, information, or other charging document was not filed or issued in the case giving rise to the criminal history record, and was either dismissed by the state attorney, dismissed by a judge, or given a verdict of not guilty by a judge or jury;
  • The person has never been adjudicated guilty or delinquent for any felony or serious misdemeanor offense;
  • The person is no longer under court supervision; and
  • The person has never secured a prior sealing or expunction of a criminal history record, unless expunction is sought of a criminal history record previously sealed for 10 years and the record is otherwise eligible for expunction.

As provided under Florida Statute Section 943.0584, an application for sealing or expunging your criminal record will be denied if you were found guilty, pled guilty or no contest to any of the following offenses:

Even if you are ineligible to seal or expunge your criminal record, you still may be able to vacate your conviction through a Rule 3.850 post-conviction motion. Contact the criminal defense lawyers at Pumphrey Law Firm if you have questions regarding whether or not you are eligible to seal or expunge your record.

Process for Sealing and Expunging Your Criminal Record

The following outlines the step-by-step process of sealing and expunging a criminal record, as provided by the State Attorney’s Office for the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court:

  1. Obtain the “Florida Department of Law Enforcement Application for Certification of Eligibility” which can be found on FDLE’s site here;
  2. Fill out all of Section A of the application. You must sign the application under oath in the presence of a notary within the 2nd Judicial Circuit;
  3. Deliver the application to the Office of the State Attorney in the county in which you were charged in, either by mail or in person;
  4. Obtain the application back from the State Attorney’s Office with Section B completed;
  5. Submit the application to FDLE, along with the following:
    1. Certified copy of the disposition for the charge you wish to have sealed or expunged;
    2. Your fingerprints; and
    3. A money order or check for $75.
  6. If your application is successful, you will receive a “Certificate of Eligibility” from the FDLE. You must then complete a “Petition and Affidavit to Expunge or Seal;
  7. File the petition along with the Certificate of Eligibility with the Clerk of Court in the appropriate county; and
  8. Receive the response from the State Attorney’s Office. If the response disagrees with your petition, the Court may schedule a hearing on the matter. If the response agrees with the petition, the Court will issue an Order Sealing or Expunging the Record and will mail you a copy of the Court’s signed Order within a few weeks.

Important: The State Attorney’s Office is unable to assist you in the seal and expunge process. However, a person seeking to have their record sealed or expunged should consider reaching out to an attorney to help them through this process. The legal counsel of Pumphrey Law Firm can help you with this matter.

Benefits of Sealing or Expunging Your Record

Everyone can make mistakes; but having your criminal history sealed or expunged provides individuals with a second chance. There are multiple benefits to having a record sealed or expunged. The criminal charge(s) will no longer be available as a public record. That means you’ll have an easier time finding housing, seeking job opportunities, and enrolling for higher education programs or financial aid.

Additionally, you will no longer have to face the stigma and discrimination that often coincides with a criminal conviction. You can move forward with your life with peace of mind, knowing that any past mistakes are no longer a public record. In some cases, getting your record sealed or expunged will restore certain civil rights you may have previously lost.

It’s important to note that even with all the benefits that come with a sealed or expunged record, it is not completely gone. Law enforcement will retain a copy, and you may still be required to disclose your prior criminal record in the following situations:

  • When seeking employment with a criminal justice agency;
  • When seeking employment with certain state governmental agencies, like the Department of Education;
  • When a defendant is facing criminal prosecution;
  • In subsequent requests for sealing or expungement; or
  • When applying for admission to the Florida Bar.

Contact the legal representatives of Pumphrey Law. Our defense attorneys can provide you with insight and guidance for filing to have your records sealed or expunged.

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Sealing or Expunging Juvenile Records

Per Florida Statute Section 943.0515, the criminal history record of a juvenile will be automatically expunged once the offender turns 21-years-old. For the automatic expunction to occur, the juvenile must have satisfied certain conditions. Exceptions to the automatic juvenile expungement includes:

  • Forcible Felonies If someone over 17 is charged or convicted of a forcible felony before their juvenile record is sealed or expunged, then their juvenile record will be merged with their adult record. This rule also applies if the juvenile is tried as an adult for their forcible felony.
  • Serious Juvenile Record If someone is a habitual juvenile offender, a serious juvenile offender, or committed to a juvenile prison, then the Criminal Justice Information Program will keep the juvenile record until the offender turns 26 years old.
  • Delinquent Adjudication for Any Juvenile Offense If a juvenile is determined delinquent for any offense, then their juvenile records will be maintained, and are merged with their adult record. The juvenile record will never be able to be sealed or expunged, and their adult criminal record will also never be able to be sealed or expunged.

If your child is a juvenile seeking to seal or expunge their criminal history record, contact the defense attorney firm at Pumphrey Law.

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Resources:

Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Seal and Expunge Process
This governmental website has information about how to apply for a petition to seal or expunge your record, application status, and reasons for denial. The FDLE is located at:

  • Florida Department of Law Enforcement
    P.O. Box 1489
    Tallahassee, Florida 32302
    Phone: (850) 410-7870

Florida Statutes Online
This website contains all the Florida Statutes governing Florida’s rules for sealing and expunging your criminal record, including crimes not eligible to be sealed or expunged and governmental agencies to which you must disclose your sealed or expunged criminal record.

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Pumphrey Law | Tallahassee Criminal Record Expunging Attorney

If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Leon County or the surrounding North Florida areas, contact the attorneys at Pumphrey Law to discuss your case. There may be options to seal or expunge your criminal record, and finding an experienced attorney who is familiar with Florida laws is your best option to reach a desirable outcome in your situation. Contact us at (850) 681-7777 for a free consultation about sealing or expunging your criminal record.


Page Updated February 12, 2024

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