Sealing Your Criminal Record: What You Need to Know
Your criminal record is easy to access, giving almost anyone a window into your arrests, charges, and convictions. Fortunately, in the state, certain individuals can request to have their records sealed or expunged. However, not everyone will have this opportunity, so it’s important to know whether or not you can get back to having a clean slate.
Both sealing and expunging are processes that serve similar purposes; namely preventing the public from unearthing information regarding prior convictions. However, having your records expunged will essentially delete a particular arrest or charge from your record.
While the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will still retain confidential records of your arrest, charge, and subsequent conviction, most other agencies won’t be able to start digging through your past arrests. Typically, you will only be able to have your records expunged if the charges against you were dropped by the prosecutor or judge.
Unlike expungement, sealing will simply place your records under strict government protection. While your records will be marked as confidential and will not be available to the public, those working in the criminal justice system will likely still have access to this information.
How Can I Have My Criminal Record Expunged?
If you were charged with a crime in Florida, you may be able to have your criminal record sealed or expunged by applying for a certificate from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. However, you will likely be barred from receiving this certificate if you have been convicted for any criminal offense in the past. Additionally, there are many types of crimes that are ineligible for expungement or sealing. For instance, if you were convicted for a felony, you will probably not be able to have your records sealed.
How Long Will This Process Take?
There is no set timeline for this application process as there are many factors that could affect how it unfolds. In most cases, it can take up to seven months to have your records sealed or expunged. However, if you’ve made any errors in your paperwork or didn’t provide authorities with the correct documents, your application for expungement or sealing could be denied.
Thankfully, a criminal defense attorney can assist with almost every step of the application process. Not only can a lawyer help you prepare the necessary paperwork, but he or she can also help you navigate proceedings and advise you on common mistakes that might otherwise lead to delays or the denial of your application.
Discuss Your Case with a Palm Beach Gardens Expungement Attorney
An arrest on your criminal record can hamstring your ability to lead a normal life. Thankfully, sealing or expunging your records can help mitigate many of the complications and challenges you might otherwise face.
Attorney Todd A. Kawecki is a former prosecutor who understands the ins and outs of the sealing and/or expungement process. To schedule a free case review with a Florida expungement attorney, contact us today at 772-485-4500 or head over to our Contact Page.