In my last blog I explained expungements and sealments, defining them under Florida law. In this blog I will explain the effects of expunging or sealing a criminal record as well as some other important points to know about them like what offenses may not 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. In a job interview or any other stage of the employment application process, a job applicant may negatively reply to a question regarding the presence of a criminal record if he or she has been granted an expungement.
When a record has been expunged, those entities which would have access to a sealed record will receive notice that the subject of the record has had a record expunged, and have no access to the record itself without a court order. A statement indicating that “Criminal Information has been Expunged from this Record” will be transmitted to the requestor.
The privilege of having a criminal record protected from background checks by having it sealed or expunged does not apply to all criminal offenses. Also, future types of employment may still require an individual to disclose a sealed criminal record or expungement. Some of these types of employment include occupations related to law like a lawyer, judge, and police officer, or related to care for children and the elderly. Certain governmental bodies and other entities related thereto, listed in Fla.Stat. § 943.059(4)(a), have complete, free, and legal access to sealed records. For example, sentencing courts may use expunged records.
Individuals may seal or expunge felonies and misdemeanors other than motor vehicle violations or minor misdemeanors that do not fall into certain categories. Some criminal statute specifically state that a particular crime is not expungeable. Expungeable offenses include most types of theft and shoplifting, as well as other non-violent crimes like disorderly conduct, trespass, criminal mischief, and vandalism. Driver’s license and motor vehicle violations also cannot be expunged. Also, minor misdemeanors and other violations which are not considered crimes are not expungeable.
Any offense which requires a mandatory prison sentence cannot be expunged. This list includes sexual assault and battery, corruption of a minor, sexual imposition, or obscenity or pornography involving a minor. Also, violent felonies and first-degree misdemeanors and offenses in which the victim is a child are not expungeable.
The same eligibility requirements which apply to sealing also apply to expunction, with certain additional requirements. Any charge, which resulted in a withholding of adjudication or in an acquittal (not guilty verdict) after trial, may not be expunged unless and until it has first been sealed for at least 10 years. See § 943.0585(2)(h),
If you have questions about expungements or sealments under Florida law, call Alan Fowler, an experienced Florida Keys criminal defense attorney, for a consultation at 305.417.9378.