Florida’s Expungement Process: Clearing Your Criminal Record

Back to DUI / DUI Arrest Blog

Florida’s Expungement Process: Clearing Your Criminal Record

judge writing behind desk

In Florida, individuals seeking to remove the stigma of a criminal record have the option to pursue expungement or sealing of their records. This process can be complex and nuanced, making it essential to understand the steps and requirements involved. This article provides an overview of the expungement process in Florida, offering clarity and direction for those looking to start anew.

Understanding Expungement in Florida

Expungement in Florida refers to the legal process of erasing or sealing a criminal record from public view. It’s important to note that expungement and sealing are different – expungement completely removes the record, whereas sealing hides it from public view but retains it for certain governmental or judicial purposes.

Eligibility Criteria for Expungement

Before beginning the process, it’s crucial to determine if you are eligible for expungement. In Florida, eligibility generally depends on factors such as:

  • Type of Crime: Some offenses, particularly violent crimes or sexual offenses, are not eligible for expungement.
  • Completion of Sentence: All sentences, including probation, must be fully completed.
  • No Subsequent Convictions: Individuals must not have any subsequent criminal convictions.
  • One-Time Opportunity: Expungement in Florida is generally a one-time opportunity.

Steps in the Expungement Process

  • Obtain a Certificate of Eligibility: The first step is to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). This involves submitting a completed application, fingerprint card, and applicable fees.
  • Prepare and File the Petition: Once you receive the Certificate of Eligibility, the next step is to file a Petition to Expunge with the appropriate court. This petition must include the certificate and other required documentation.
  • The Court’s Decision: The court will review the petition and make a decision. If the judge approves the expungement, an order will be issued to expunge or seal the record.

Legal Considerations and Assistance

  • Understanding the Law: Florida’s expungement laws are detailed in Chapter 943 of the Florida Statutes. Familiarizing yourself with these laws is beneficial.
  • Seeking Legal Advice: Navigating the expungement process can be complex, and legal nuances can make a significant difference. Consulting with a criminal defense attorney experienced in expungements in Florida can be crucial.
  • Timeframe and Expectations: The process can take several months to complete, so it’s important to have realistic expectations regarding the timeframe.

The Impact of Expungement

Expungement can have a profound impact on an individual’s life, offering benefits such as:

  • Enhanced Employment Opportunities: Many employers perform background checks, and an expunged record can broaden job prospects.
  • Educational Advantages: Some educational programs require background checks.
  • Personal and Social Benefits: Expungement can reduce stigma and provide a sense of closure and a fresh start.


The expungement process in Florida offers a pathway for individuals to clear their criminal records and embrace new opportunities. While the journey involves several steps and adherence to legal criteria, the potential benefits make it a worthwhile endeavor for those eligible. Understanding the process and seeking appropriate legal guidance are key to successfully navigating Florida’s expungement landscape.

Share this post

Back to DUI / DUI Arrest Blog