Have you been charged with a crime that carries significant penalties? Read these 5 common questions about expungement, then call us today.
1) How do I choose an attorney for an expungement?
You have some options that are offered to you by the state of Florida. You can either attempt to have your record sealed, or you can have it expunged. These are going to be very important for you going forward and trying to live your life. In this day in age, in this digital world, everyone can find out everything about everyone, so it’s very important to make sure that you protect yourself and minimize any impact that having a criminal case on your record may have. It is very important to seek out an attorney who has actually done expungements or record sealings to help you through that process.
This is a detailed process that is dictated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement who sets their own rules and regulations and specific details and requirements that are needed for someone to be able to seal or expunge their record. Only an attorney who’s knowledgeable with those types of methods and with the regulations are going to be able to make sure that you are eligible, make sure that your application is complete, and make sure that your request for sealing or expungement of your record is successful. We’ve done that many times in the past. We’ve had great experiences. We haven’t had any sealing or expungement applications rejected in our entire career, so it’s very important to go with someone who knows what they’re doing, who’s done it before.
2) How long does it take to expunge or seal my criminal record?
It somewhat depends on how your case is resolved. If your case is resolved by a simple dismissal or by the fact that the prosecuting authority is not going to prosecute the case, then we can file the application paperwork and request the petition within a short period of time because the case will have been resolved once it’s dropped or dismissed. Considering that situation, it will take anywhere between six to nine months.
It could take longer depending on the backlog that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is having at the particular time. The reason why we say that is because the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is the sole governing body that reviews all the applications in the state of Florida. In Orlando, Florida, in Kissimmee, Florida, any county throughout the state of Florida, they will review every expungement and sealing petition and application, so depending on the number that they get at any particular amount, it could be sooner, it could be later. In our experience it takes between three to six months to get your certificate of eligibility, which is based off of your initial application. That essentially is confirmation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that you are actually eligible to seal or expunge your record. That, again, takes three to six months depending on the time of the year the application is submitted.
Once that happens, the final step needs to be done. That can take a few months, so total we’re looking at if the case is resolved quickly it could take anywhere between six to nine months, maybe up to twelve months if there’s significant backlog or some other delay in the court system, but in our experience, that’s the timeline. What we always tell our clients is the sooner you want to get it done, the sooner we got to get started. The sooner we get that application off to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the sooner we can get back the certificate of eligibility, and the sooner we can get – file the petition to have the criminal case sealed or expunged.
Now, on the other hand, if you have just started your case and you have a year left of probation or six months of probation or whatever it may be or you need to finish your diversion, you just need to simply tack that time onto the time that we just mentioned. If you have six months of probation, then it will take you your time to successfully complete the probation, and then you need to add the time of the application and then the final petition. In that scenario, you have six months, and then it could be six months – another six months, nine months, so it could be upwards of a year, year and a half to get that resolved, but again, as we said with the other example, the sooner you meet with your attorney to get that done, to get that initial application filed, the sooner we can get that certificate of eligibility back, the sooner we can get that filed with the court, and the sooner we can get you sealed or expunged and you moving on with your life.
3) If my criminal record is expunged, do I ever have to admit that I have a prior arrest or conviction?
Most clients come to us because they’ve had issues getting work, trying to buy a home, rent an apartment. These issues can crop up in any numerous scenarios. Maybe they’ve had a relationship go bad because someone looked them up and saw that they had this accusation or this crime on their record, so they come to us concerned because they need this fixed, and they need to move on with their lives.
Once you’ve had a record sealed or expunged, by Florida law, you can willfully deny without consequence that you have ever had that arrest or conviction. This is with the general understanding that if the particular employment – for example if you want to try to be a law enforcement office or an attorney, then at that point, they must be disclosed. There are certain disclosure requirements that are set by Florida statute, which an experienced attorney will be able to walk you through. They’re only in very limited circumstances. If you want to get security clearance, if you want to work in specialized employments, if you want to work with – certain areas with children, very specific things you’re going to have to disclose a record that is sealed or expunged, but generally for the most part no, you can willfully deny that without consequence.
4) My criminal record has been sealed; can I now expunge it?
Florida law dictates all of that. Florida law sets forth what a person can do and what they cannot do when it comes to record sealing and record expungement.
Now, typically record expungement is only allowed for certain offenses and certain resolutions. For the most part, it’s only allowed for persons who have certain – who have been accused of a certain type of crime and the crime has been dismissed, they’ve been acquitted, or they’ve been arrested, and the prosecuting authority never charged that crime. Under those circumstances, a person can have their record expunged. We know we’ve been talking about record sealing and record expungement, so the key difference between the two is a record expungement is the actual, physical record that is held by whatever agency is actually physical destroyed as opposed to a record sealing where the record – the actual physical record is just sealed away and put away so that no one can see it, so it just goes one step further than the record sealing, but only under limited circumstances can a record be expunged.
Now, there is a special exception that we did discuss with this client. After you’ve had your record sealed for ten years in Florida, then you can petition to have your record expunged. This is assuming that you otherwise meet the qualifications for having your record expunged and sealed and that you have no other things that will prevent you from doing so. Generally, no, you can’t have your record expunged if it’s sealed unless it is beyond the ten years, but only speaking with an experienced attorney and having an experienced attorney answer these particular questions for you will give you the peace of mind, will be able to answer your questions on whether or not you can expunge your record once it is already sealed.
5) What can be expunged from my adult criminal record?
Some cases can be sealed. Some cases can be expunged. Everything is dictated and set forth by Florida statute. There’s a long, lengthy list of cases that can be sealed, cases that can’t be sealed.
Now, there has to be an important distinction There’s a difference between getting a case expunged and getting a case sealed. Usually, you have to meet certain requirements for the expungement as opposed to different requirements for the record sealing, but without going into the many numerous crimes which can be several crimes in nature, generally, crimes such as violent crimes or crimes – sexual-related crimes or significant drug offenses or serious felonies are ones that will not allow you to expunge or seal your record. If that’s the case, it really depends on your particular arrest, your particular conviction. There are many different things that go into determining whether or not your particular criminal case and how it was resolved will be able to be expunged or sealed.
The best thing we can recommend is to call your attorney, call an attorney, visit our website, call me. We can answer any questions. We can go over the particular facts of your case, the particular resolution of your case, how long ago it happened to determine first whether or not you qualify. That’s something only an experienced attorney in sealing and expungements will be able to answer for you.
Have you been charged with a crime that carries significant penalties in Florida and have questions? After reading these 5 common questions about expungement, contact our experienced Orlando criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation and case evaluation.
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