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Sealing vs. Expunging Your Criminal Record in Florida

Not every arrest or charge can be sealed or expunged in Florida. There are many different factors that play a role in whether your criminal case is eligible. However, below are some general guidelines regarding eligibility.

What's the difference between sealing and expunging?

When your case is sealed, it cannot be viewed by the general public; however, there are exceptions, such as by court order, law enforcement agencies, certain government agencies, or if you are a defendant in a subsequent case.

When your case is expunged, it is destroyed. Only the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) maintains a copy and keeps it sealed.

How long do you have to seal or expunge?

You can seal or expunge your record at any time. The charge, however, must be closed, and all periods of supervision (such as probation) must be over.

How long does it take to get your case sealed or expunged?

The process usually takes 4-6 months. Your application may be delayed if it was done incorrectly or it is missing important documents.

How much does it cost to seal or expunge your record?

In addition to attorney's fees, there is a $75 non-refundable application fee for FDLE.

What cases are eligible to be sealed or expunged?

If No Action was taken on your case (you were arrested but the State Attorney decided not to file charges against you), your case resulted in a Nolle Prosequi (your charges were later dismissed by the State Attorney), or if you were Acquitted by a Judge or Jury (found not guilty), you may be eligible for expunging your record.

An adjudication withheld could allow you to have your case sealed. You may never seal or expunge a record if you have ever been adjudicated/convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, including the charge you are trying to seal/expunge. You also will not be eligible if you were adjudged delinquent as a juvenile.

Since there is a fine distinction, it is important that have an attorney review your record carefully to properly advise you as to whether you are eligible. It is important to note that many driving offenses are considered misdemeanors and even felonies.

How many times can I apply to have my record sealed/expunged?

You can only apply once. More than one arrest may be eligible only if a judge decides that the multiple arrests are related to the same incident.

What offenses are not eligible for sealing/expunging?

There is a long list of offenses that can never be sealed nor expunged. You can see which ones here. However, you can only be sure by meeting with an experienced criminal attorney that can properly advise you. Contact us for a free consultation.

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