Fort Lauderdale, FL- If you were arrested or found guilty of a criminal charge as a teen or an adult, you know first-hand the negative impact it can have on your life. Your criminal record can hold you back and make it difficult to find a good job, get a student loan or exercise certain civil rights such as the right to vote or own a gun. Fortunately, some Floridians are eligible to have arrests or criminal charges sealed or expunged from their records. However, your case has to have been declined, dropped, dismissed, resulted in an acquittal or a withhold of adjudication. If you have ever been convicted of any criminal offense anywhere in the world, Florida law precludes you from sealing or expunging any record.
If you are granted an expungement, records of your criminal arrest or conviction are unavailable to private employers or the public, but can still be viewed by very limited government agencies such as a the FBI. Expungement generally means the record is destroyed but that does not mean that certain law enforcement agencies cannot still see that is existed. A sealed record is effectively the same thing but the record is not destroyed but rather, not reflected in public records and not otherwise viewable by anyone without a court order. With a few exceptions, having your record sealed or expunged means you don’t have to disclose your arrest or conviction.
If you want to have your arrest or case disposition sealed or expunged from your record, you should call the criminal defense lawyers at Leader & Leader, P.A., who serve Fort Lauderdale to determine if you are eligible for seal or expungement. They understand the process and will take whatever steps are necessary to have your record sealed or expunged and will do it correctly. There are some low cost providers that seem to not get the job done or do it incorrectly….buyer beware! Leader & Leader, P.A. handles sealing and expunging records anywhere in the State of Florida!
You can only get your record sealed or expunged once in a lifetime in Florida. Once you have it done in one case, under the current law, you are never eligible again.
The process for sealing or expunging a record generally takes six to nine months. There is no process or fee to expedite it; if anyone tells you otherwise, you should consider whether that is someone you want representing you.
There are a number of offenses that are not eligible to be sealed which include serious felonies such as assault, kidnapping, homicide or sexual assault. A complete list of criminal offenses not eligible for sealing is available in the Expunge/Seal packet on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website. Although you can attempt this without a lawyer, the cost of representation is very reasonable and we highly recommend you use a qualified attorney for any legal process, especially one that is often messed up by those unfamiliar with the process, requirements and dealing with the Courts. Additionally, although forms can be used, in many instances we submit our orders that have language not included in standard forms that we have found to be extremely helpful to our clients.
When you have your criminal record in Florida sealed or expunged you can lawfully say you have not been arrested or found guilty of a crime in most instances (except those set forth in the statute). You don’t have to mention your arrest or conviction on job professional licensing applications, in sworn oaths, or on college admissions in most instances. Florida Statute §943.059 explains the ten exceptions when a sealed record still must be disclosed and Florida Statute §943.0585 lists the eight exceptions to when you must disclose an expunged record.
If you have legal representation, generally, you do not have to appear in court to have your record sealed or expunged. To the average person, the process of sealing or expunging a record can be difficult and confusing, but the experienced legal team at Leader & Leader, P.A. can make the process easier and give you a greater chance of success.
Another reason to retain competent attorneys that know what they are doing is a result of the internet and digital age we live in. Many times you can have a record sealed or expunged but many non-government sources and/or websites are still displaying your information. Leader & Leader, P.A. has experience in successfully helping their clients in getting sealed or expunged information removed from third parties either on their own or in conjunction with specialized services that can assist. Sometimes additional fees and costs may apply to remove information listed by a private company or individual.
Sealing or expunging your criminal record can be complex but will be rewarding, and will open up opportunities your arrest or criminal disposition closed off. Retain the criminal defense lawyers at Leader & Leader, P.A. to help you expunge or seal your criminal record in South Florida.