Expungement In Florida -
How To Expunge Your Criminal Record
In order to expunge a criminal arrest record in Florida, you first must meet certain eligibility requirements under Florida law. Briefly, the charges against you must have been either dismissed by the court or your arrest “Nolle Prossed,” (meaning the prosecutor decided not to press charges against you). Do not confuse expungement of records with record sealing. If you received a “Withhold Adjudication” you may be eligible to seal your record, but not expunge your record.
When your record is expunged, the entire record is physically destroyed and purged from the criminal justice system. No one, except the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, will know that you were ever arrested. This is slightly different then when you seal a criminal record. The contents of a sealed record are not publicly accessible, but anyone asking would know that a record actually exists. Think of a sealed envelope – you know the envelope is there, but you just can’t see inside of it. Sealed records are eligible for expungement in Florida after ten years.
The Florida expungement process typically takes between four to seven months. First, you must fill out “Section A” of an application stating general information about the charges against you, outcome of your case, and some personal identification information. The application then must be notarized and sent to the State Attorney’s Office to fill out “Section B.” You must also send what is called a “Certified Disposition” with the application, which can be obtained directly from the Clerk of Courts. After the State Attorney’s office completes “Section B,” you will have to send the fully completed application, Certified Disposition, fingerprint card and $75 check or money order to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (who will then complete “Section C”).
Next, you wait (and wait, then wait some more..!) for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to issue you a Certificate of Eligibility. Altogether, you can expect the process up through receipt of the Certificate of Eligibility to take between three to four months. Once you do receive your Certificate of Eligibility, you will have to petition the court to expunge your record. This entails filing a motion, affidavit, and Order for the Judge to sign, along with paying all court costs. A certified copy of these filings must be provided to both the State Attorney’s Office and the arresting agency. You may or may not be required to attend a hearing, depending on whether the State Attorney’s Office objects to your petition, or which Florida county you were arrested in. Once the Judge grants your petition and signs the Order, the Clerk’s Office will perform the expunction of your record. Notice must be sent to all known agencies involved, such as the arresting agency and all State and Federal databases. It is helpful to actually name these agencies in the Order.
Don’t think you have a criminal record that needs to be expunged? Please remember, even if you have completed a pre-trial diversion program and your charges were dismissed you will still have an arrest record accessible and available for public viewing. If you have ever been arrested, a record of your arrest will be present unless and until it is sealed or expunged. To find out if you are eligible to seal or expunge your record, please take our free eligibility evaluation here: expunge criminal record