BENEFITS OF EXPUNGING AND SEALING
There are many legal and practical benefits to expunging or sealing a criminal history record. These include:
- Protecting a person’s criminal past from public view;
- Avoiding discovery of a criminal incident by employers;
- Avoiding discovery of a criminal incident by colleges and universities;
- Protecting a person from having to disclose an arrest or charge to employers and other interested persons;
- Preventing a record from being found on background checks;
- Circumventing workplace policies that prevent advancement for employees with criminal histories;
- Protection of reputation in the community;
- Peace of mind and closure.
PROTECTIONS FROM DISCLOSURE
Once a person’s record has been sealed or expunged, he or she is legally protected from having to disclose the subject criminal history. This disclosure protection applies to virtually all private sector employers and most colleges and universities.
There are limited exceptions to this rule. Under Sections 943.0585(4)(a) and 943.059(4)(a), Florida Statutes, a person must must make a truthful disclosure of his or her criminal history information (upon proper request) if he or she:
- Is a candidate for employment with a criminal justice agency;
- Is a defendant in a criminal prosecution;
- Is a candidate for admission to The Florida Bar;
- Is seeking to be employed or licensed by or to contract with the Department of Children and Family Services, the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, or the Department of Juvenile Justice;
- Is seeking to be employed or licensed by the Department of Education, any district school board, any university laboratory school, any charter school, any private or parochial school, or any local governmental entity that licenses child care facilities;
- Is attempting to purchase a firearm from a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer and is subject to a criminal history check under state or federal law (this applies only to the sealing of records);
- Is seeking authorization from a Florida seaport identified in Section 311.09, Florida Statutes, for employment within or access to one or more of such seaports pursuant to Section 311.12, Florida Statutes;
- Is seeking to change their immigration status or receive immigration benefits.
SEALING: ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
To seal a record in Florida, an applicant must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- You must never have been adjudicated guilty of a criminal offense or comparable ordinance violation, and must never have been adjudicated delinquent (in a juvenile proceeding) for committing any felony or a misdemeanor specified in Florida Statutes Section 943.051(3)(b) (including assault, battery, carrying a concealed weapon, unlawful use of destructive devices or bombs, negligent treatment of children, assault or battery on a law enforcement officer, open carrying of a weapon, exposure of sexual organs, unlawful possession of a firearm, petit theft, cruelty to animals, arson, and unlawful possession or discharge of a weapon or firearm at a school-sponsored event or on school property);
- You must not have been adjudicated guilty of or adjudicated delinquent for committing any of the acts stemming from the arrest or alleged criminal activity to which your sealing application pertains;
- You must have no prior sealing or expunction of a criminal history record anywhere else;
- You must not have any other petition to seal or any petition to expunge pending before any court;
- You must not have committed any “disqualifying” offenses (see below);
- If placed on probation or community control for the offense, the probation or community control must be completed and you must no longer be under court supervision.
EXPUNCTION: ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
In addition to meeting the eligibility requirements for sealing a record, an applicant for expunction must meet two additional criteria:
- There must not have been an indictment, information, or other charging document filed in your case, or, if one was filed, the case must have resulted in a dismissal or nolle pros by the state attorney or the court. If your case proceeded to trial, you are not eligible for an expunction, regardless of the outcome of the trial. In that instance, you must first seal the record and wait ten years from the date of sealing before petitioning to expunge.
- If the case resulted in a plea and adjudication was withheld (and the applicant meets all of the other eligibility requirements of a sealing), the applicant must first seal his or her record and wait a period of ten years from the date of sealing before petitioning to expunge. See Section 943.0585(2)(h), Florida Statutes.
Under Sections 943.0585 and 943.059, Florida Statutes, certain offenses are not eligible to be sealed or expunged, regardless of whether adjudication was withheld.
- Section 393.135- sexual misconduct with developmentally disabled person);
- Section 394.4593- sexual misconduct between an employee and a mentally ill patient;
- Section 787.025- luring or enticing a child;
- Chapter 794- sexual battery;
- Section 796.03- procuring a minor for prostitution;
- Section 800.04- lewd or lascivious offenses committed upon or in the presence of persons less than 16 years of age;
- Section 810.14- voyeurism;
- Section 817.034- Florida Communications Fraud Act;
- Section 825.1025- lewd or lascivious offenses committed upon or in the presence of an elderly person or disabled person;
- Section 827.071- sexual performance by a child;
- Chapter 839- criminal conduct by public employees and officials;
- Section 847.0133- providing obscene material to minors;
- Section 847.0135- computer pornography; traveling to meet minor;
- Section 847.0145- selling or buying of minors;
- Section 893.135- drug trafficking (controlled substances, including cannabis);
- Any violation specified as a predicate offense for registration as a sexual predator pursuant to Section 775.21;
- Offenses specified in Section 907.041, including:
- Aggravated assault;
- Aggravated battery;
- Illegal use of explosives;
- Child abuse or aggravated child abuse;
- Abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult;
- Aircraft piracy;
- Sexual battery;
- Lewd, lascivious, or indecent assault upon or in presence of a child under 16;
- Sexual activity with a child, who is 12 years of age or older but less than 18;
- Burglary of a dwelling;
- Stalking and aggravated stalking;
- Act of domestic violence as defined in Section 741.28, Florida Statutes (including assault, aggravated assault, domestic battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member);
- Home invasion robbery;
- Act of terrorism as defined in s. 775.30;
- Manufacturing any substances in violation of Chapter 893, Florida Statutes; and
- Attempting or conspiring to commit any such crime.
The offenses listed above are only disqualifying if there was a finding or verdict of guilt or delinquency, or if there was a plea of guilty or no contest. If the charges were dropped or otherwise dismissed, an applicant will remain eligible to seal or expunge.
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