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Sealing a Record VS. Expunging a Record

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In this competitive job market, potential employers look for any reason to disqualify a candidate from a job offering for which they have far too many qualified applicants.  You may receive a “Thanks, but no thanks” response to your job application and scratch your head wondering why because your mad skills filled every need listed on the job posting and then some.  For an answer, you may want to look at your criminal background check.  That video game you stole from Walmart when you were a dumb kid of 19 could be what is keeping you down.  Sure, you successfully completed a diversionary program and the charge was dropped, but that arrest still shows up for all who pull your criminal history.  If that arrest were expunged from your record, you could be back in the game, competing on your skills and merits, not being judged by your mistakes.

To keep it short and sweet:

  1. Sealing a record means that a person’s criminal history is closed off from outside curiosity, placed under highly restricted access. If your record is sealed, you may lawfully deny or fail to acknowledge the arrests covered by the sealed record, except if you are applying for employment with a criminal justice agency; are a defendant in a criminal prosecution; are seeking admission to the Florida Bar; are applying to work or contract with the Department of Health, Department of Children and Families; and other state or federal agencies having direct contact with children, the disabled, or the elderly; are seeking to become a teacher; or are attempting to purchase a firearm and are subject to a state or federal background check.
  1. Expunction of a record means that a person’s criminal record is removed from FDLE’s records.  No one can retrieve it except by Court order.   The agencies listed above will receive only your demographic information and a statement that criminal history information has been expunged, but they will not receive details.

Do I qualify to seal or expunge my record?  You very well may qualify if you meet the following criteria:

  1. You HAVE NOT been found guilty (convicted) of a felony, misdemeanor, certain municipal ordinances, or certain criminal traffic offenses. Your criminal charges must have been dropped or adjudication withheld.
  1. You HAVE NOT had any record sealed or expunged before in any jurisdiction.
  1. You HAVE NOT been charged with any disqualifying offense. Please click this link for a full list of disqualifying offenses. http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/cms/Seal-and-Expunge-Process/Reasons-for-Denial.aspx

Should you qualify, you can download the DIY seal/expunge packed from the FDLE website. You will need a certified copy of the final disposition for each charge listed on your application, a notarized application for certificate of eligibility, a $75 money order made out to the FDLE, a rolled-ink fingerprint card, and possibly a signed form from the state attorney (only for expunction).

From there, it becomes a waiting game. You could be waiting anywhere from 3 months to 9 months. As of March 2017, the FDLE is processing applications received in September, 2016.   Once your application is approved by the FDLE you will receive a Certificate of Eligibility which you will file with the court along with your petition to seal or expunge.  Once the judge signs an Order to Seal or Expunge, the clerk of court will transmit the Order to the proper agencies.

You may want to consider hiring an attorney to handle the paperwork for you.  The team at Dale Carson Law has seen many people make mistakes in submitting packets to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that resulted in lengthy delays. If you decide to undertake the process on your own, follow the instructions carefully.

If you need assistance in sealing or expunging your record, do not hesitate to call Dale Carson Law or contact us today, by clicking here now!

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