In past blogs, I discussed expungements and sealments, focusing upon what they are and their effects.
Expungement means petitioning the State of Florida to have a criminal record physically destroyed or removed from general review. Sealment is defined as having a criminal record taken from public view and access. The only way to then access such record is by court order to have it “unsealed.” Multiple charges under one case number may be expunged or sealed. Under Florida law, sealing or expunging a criminal record allows an individual, in most circumstances, to legally declare that he or she has not been arrested or convicted of a particular offense, including DUI, Driving While a License is Suspended (DWLS), and many other criminal offenses. If a job applicant is has been granted an expungement and is asked in a job interview or any other stage of the employment application process about the presence of a criminal record, the job applicant may legally and honestly reply, “No.”
What Can and Cannot Be Sealed or Expunged
Records of felonies may be expunged or sealed, but there is a long list of exceptions to this rule. Any offense, for example, that requires a mandatory prison sentence cannot be expunged. These crimes include rape, sexual battery, corruption of a minor, sexual imposition, or obscenity or pornography involving a minor. Violent felonies, first-degree misdemeanors, and those in which the victim is under 18, are also not eligible to be expunged. Also, motor vehicle or driver’s license violations, as well as bail forfeitures in traffic cases, may not be expunged. Since minor misdemeanors, such as possession of less than 100 grams of marijuana or certain disorderly conduct are not considered crimes, they cannot be expunged.
The expungement or sealment process may take anywhere from four to six months and requires the representation of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney familiar with Florida’s requirements for the expungement and sealment of criminal records. If you have questions about these requirements under Florida law, call Alan Fowler, an experienced key west criminal defense attorney, for a consultation at 305.912.2516.