Cape Coral Sealing and Expungement of Criminal Records
When faced with a criminal charge, the prospects most immediately feared from a conviction are the prospect of serving time in jail or prison or being ordered to pay thousands of dollars in fines. It is only after the fine has been paid or the time has been served that people start to realize the long-term cost of a criminal conviction, which is the fact of living with a criminal record. A criminal record shows up everywhere you go. It impacts whether you can obtain or maintain a desired job or professional license, if the landlord will rent you an apartment, whether you can get a loan, if you can purchase a firearm or vote, and what people think of you when they find out about the record.
For many people who have been convicted of crimes in Florida, steps are available that can seal or expunge those records, hiding them from view or erasing them entirely. Foley & Wilson Law Firm, with over 45 years of experience in Florida criminal law as both prosecutors and defense attorneys, can guide you through the process. We can help you determine whether you are eligible for sealing or expungement, answer all your questions, and provide skilled professional representation for a successful outcome. Contact our experienced criminal defense lawyers today for help with the sealing and expungement of criminal records in Cape Coral.
Process for Sealing Criminal Records in Florida
When a record is sealed, access is restricted only to certain people, including yourself, your lawyer, and certain criminal justice agencies for certain purposes, such as if you apply for a firearm purchase. Otherwise, your criminal record is hidden from view and won’t come up in a background check run by a prospective employer, landlord or bank. You can also lawfully say you haven’t been arrested when asked in a job interview, except for certain listed occupations such as to work in law enforcement or as an attorney.
The process for getting a record sealed starts with an application to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for a certificate of eligibility for sealing. This certificate is good for 12 months and allows you to proceed to the next step, which is filing a petition in court to have the record sealed. You must still meet certain conditions before the court will agree to seal the record:
- The record offense must be eligible for sealing. Florida law contains a list of sex offenses and other crimes whose records can’t be sealed.
- Your record must not contain an adjudication of guilt. Sealable records are those with probation, withhold of adjudication, or certain other outcomes.
- You haven’t already had a record sealed before.
- You aren’t presently on probation.
Process for Expunging Criminal Records in Florida
Expungement does more than just restrict access to the record to certain individuals; it completely obliterates the record so that it no longer exists. Like the process for sealing, you must first obtain a certificate of eligibility from the Department of Law Enforcement and then go to court to have the record expunged. The decision on whether to expunge will be made by the judge following a hearing on the matter.
Besides going to court, there are several other ways of getting a record expunged in Florida. These methods include:
- Administrative Expungement by the Department of Law Enforcement based on an unlawful arrest
- Automatic Juvenile Expungement for young adults aged 21 (or in some instances 26) with juvenile records who haven’t been charged or convicted as an adult of a forcible felony
- Early Juvenile Expungement for adults between 18 and 21 who have juvenile records but have not committed a criminal offense in the past five years
- Human Trafficking Expungement for victims of human trafficking who were charged with prostitution or other crimes related to the scheme they were trafficked in.
- Juvenile Diversion Expungement for a minor who completes diversion after committing a non-violent misdemeanor
- Lawful Self-Defense Expungement based on certification from the State Attorney that your actions which led to an assault or similar conviction were taken lawfully in self-defense
Get Help With Criminal Record Sealing and Expungement in Cape Coral
To find out if your juvenile or adult criminal records might be eligible for sealing or expungement in Cape Coral, call Foley & Wilson Law Firm for a complimentary case review.