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Expunging versus sealing your criminal record

The existence of your criminal record can cause you to experience significant setbacks. After an arrest or after facing charges, your criminal record can make life in Florida difficult.

However, depending on the offense, Jacksonville residents may have options to move on from their criminal record through expunging or sealing the offense. However, despite both processes being commonly grouped together, they differ from one another in key areas. Which is right for you and how can you determine your eligibility?

The challenges of carrying a criminal record

A criminal record can complicate applying for jobs, college, housing, loans and more. Anytime you need to submit a background check, the prospective employer, landlord or more can discover your criminal history which can deter your opportunities. This is not only the case for those with convictions on their records but also for those who faced criminal charges or even just an arrest.

Expungement versus sealing

By seeking an expungement or expunction of your criminal record, you can essentially erase your criminal record from view. While the offense would not be entirely erased, law enforcement officers would destroy all records of the arrest or charge. Only the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would retain a copy of the offense, which can then only be accessed by court order.

Another option is to seal the criminal record. While this would not necessarily erase the record, it would seal the offense from view. Law enforcement officials would still be able to view the offense, yet potential employers, landlords, lenders and more would not.

Navigating Florida eligibility requirements

Florida requirements for expungement are slightly stricter and more comprehensive than those for sealing. Florida law states that only those who did not face charges for a crime or their offense resulted in a dismissal of charges may apply for expungement. Additionally, expungement may be available for some offenses after 10 years.

The requirements for sealing include that you cannot have already sought an expungement or sealing of your record, you cannot have multiple convictions on your record and your request must be for eligible offenses. Certain crimes are not eligible for sealing, including many violent offenses.

Determining your eligibility for expungement or sealing can be complicated. Additionally, the application procedure for both processes can be lengthy and frustrating. Discuss your case with a lawyer to protect your rights and pursue your best interests.

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Thomas G. Fallis, P.A.
2064 Park Street
Jacksonville, FL 32204

Phone: 904-717-6684
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Proud Members of the Following Organizations:

  • ABA Defending Liberty Pursuing Justice
  • National Association Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • The Jacksonville Bar Association
  • Florida Association Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • ACLU American Civil Liberties Union