Everyone makes mistakes in life, and sometimes those mistakes are so large that they result in an arrest or a conviction. Arrests without conviction can be expunged or “deleted” from your criminal record, but many offenses, including misdemeanors, and traffic offenses such as DUIs are not possible to remove.
Felony convictions are extremely serious, and in Florida, you cannot expunge a felony conviction from your criminal record. This means that unfortunately, it will always be there. In Florida, criminal records can be accessed by potential employers, during applications for housing or travel, and can even be accessed by other citizens.
What is a Felony Conviction?
There are several classes of felonies in Florida, including first, second, and third-degree felonies, as well as capital felonies and life felonies.
Third-degree felonies include drug possession or theft.
Second-degree felonies include non-aggravated assault.
First-degree felonies include aggravated battery.
Capital and life felonies are much more serious and include aggravated sexual assault, murder, and kidnapping.
These crimes are all very serious, and cannot be expunged from records. If you have been arrested or charged for one of these crimes but not convicted, you can apply to have the arrest or charge expunged. However, if you have been convicted this cannot be expunged or cleared.
What is Expungement?
Expungement is the process of having your criminal record cleared so that when someone performs a criminal background check, nothing comes up. Expungement is covered by Florida Statutes §§ 943.0585.
There are two different forms of the process: record expungement and record sealing. Expungement means that you were found not guilty at trial, or the court dismissed the charges against you. A record can be sealed if the court withheld the adjudication of guilt – this means that you were found guilty, but the court did not convict you.
Expungement can help to make sure that when you apply for jobs or for housing, mistakes that you have made in the past do not get in your way.
However, the process of expungement can be complicated, and if you make small mistakes on your petition it may be thrown out. This is why it is critically important that you consult a lawyer to help you.
In addition, you cannot apply for an expungement or sealing if you have secured a prior sealing or expunction of a criminal history record in Florida. Basically, you have one chance to clear something from your record. If you have been charged with multiple crimes it may be important to decide which one should be expunged or sealed.
Get Help from a Board-Certified Attorney
If you need help expunging an arrest or charge in Florida, Stechschulte Nell can help. Attorney Ben Stechschulte is a Florida board-certified trial lawyer and is available 24/7 to take your call and discuss the specifics of your case.