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Seal or Expunge Criminal Record

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

Florida provides public access to criminal history records, so anyone with access to the internet is able to retrieve public data, including your criminal history information. Criminal history is defined as a record that is created when a subject 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.

In order to prevent your criminal record from adversely affecting your career, educational and housing opportunities, it is important to hire an attorney help you expunge or seal your criminal record.

Tallahassee Criminal Record Sealing Lawyer

Call the Pumphrey Law today at (850) 681-7777 for a consultation on sealing or expunging your criminal record. Our attorneys are knowledgeable about the laws pertaining to sealing and expunging criminal records, and represent individuals throughout northern Florida, including Tallahassee in Leon County, Bristol in Liberty County, Crawfordville in Wakulla County, Monticello in Jefferson County, and Quincy in 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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Benefits of Sealing or Expunging Your Record

Everyone can make mistakes, and having your criminal history sealed can give you a second chance. Your criminal charge will not longer be available as a public record. Additionally, with your criminal record sealed or expunged, you may be legally permitted to deny or choose not to acknowledge any prior arrests you may have when applying for certain jobs, housing, or educations. However, you must 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 in criminal prosecution;
  • In subsequent requests for sealing or expungement; or
  • When applying for admission to the Florida Bar.

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The Difference between Sealing and Expunging Your Record

  • Sealing Your Record (Florida Statutes § 943.059)
    When a criminal record is sealed, 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 expunge (destroy) the record.
  • Expunging Your Record (Florida Statutes § 943.0585)
    When a criminal record is expunged, it is destroyed, except the Florida Department of Law Enforcement does keep one copy of the record. However, no one else is able to 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.

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Eligibility to Seal or Expunge Your Criminal Record

You may be eligible to seal or expunge your criminal record if:

  • You do not have any prior misdemeanor, felony or criminal ordinance violation convictions in the United States;
  • You were never declared delinquent or adjudicated “delinquent” of a criminal charge by a judge as a juvenile;
  • You have never had a criminal record sealed or expunged before
  • You are not currently under any court ordered supervision or diversion program

In addition to the prior factors, an application for sealing or expunging your criminal record will be denied if you were found guilty, or pled guilty or no contest to any of the following offenses, including, but not limited to:

  • Abuse or aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult;
  • Child abuse or aggravated child abuse
  • Terrorism
  • Aggravated assault
  • Aggravated battery
  • Arson
  • Burglary
  • Carjacking
  • Robbery
  • Homicide
  • Kidnapping
  • Manslaughter
  • Manufacturing controlled substances
  • Sexual battery
  • Stalking and aggravated stalking
  • Trafficking in controlled substances
  • Attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the above listed crimes

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.


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Requirements to Seal and Expunge Your Criminal Record

In order to expunge your criminal record, your case must have been resolved without a guilty plea, you had no prior criminal history sealed or expunged, and you must have applied for and received a certificate of eligibility to have your record expunged.

In order to seal your criminal record, you must have never previously sealed or expunged a criminal record, not entered a plea of guilty or no contest, not be found guilty by the court, never been convicted of any other criminal offense, and must have applied for and received a certificate of eligibility to have your record sealed.


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Seal or Expunge Juvenile Records

In typical situations, juvenile records are automatically expunged once the offender turns 24 years old. However, there are exceptions, including:

  • Forcible Felonies
    If someone over 17 is charged and/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 correctional facility, 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.

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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 of 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 drug offense in Leon County, Tallahassee, contact the attorneys at Pumphrey Law to discuss the facts of your particular 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 consultation about sealing or expunging your criminal record.


This article was last updated October 22, 2016.