Sealing or Expunging a Criminal Record
Serving Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach and clients throughout Florida
In Florida, criminal records can be sealed or expunged under certain circumstances. Sealing or expunging a record is a process that usually takes several months. The process involves a judge deciding whether a record may be sealed/expunged if the record is eligible for this relief.
What is the Difference Between Sealing and Expunction?
Sealing means that the record of an arrest and court proceedings are literally physically sealed so that they cannot be accessed.
Expunction is the complete destruction of the records, sometimes incorrectly called an expungement.
What is the Sealing Process?
The first step in the process of determining whether a record may be sealed or expunged is to determine whether record is eligible. Arrests and court records for certain crimes may not be sealed or expunged. Additionally, if you were adjudicated guilty of the offense, the record may not be sealed or expunged.
The best first step toward determining your eligibility for sealing/expunction is to get a certified copy of the Judgment and Sentence for the offense. If the case was dropped, then you may be eligible for expunction and a certified copy of the disposition notice is needed. These documents are obtained from the Clerk of Court in the county where the offense was handled. Once you have this document we can help you determine whether the offense is eligible for sealing/expunction.
The following questions help determine whether you are eligible for relief:
- Have you ever been adjudicated “delinquent” of a crime as a juvenile?
- Have you ever been adjudicated “guilty” of a crime as an adult? (or was adjudication withheld)
- If you pled guilty or no contest to the arrest you want sealed/ expunged – did the judge adjudicate you “guilty” or “delinquent” of any charge against you?
- Have you ever had a prior arrest record sealed/expunged?
If you answered “no” to each of those questions, you may be eligible for sealing or expunction. If you are not sure, call us today. We can assist you with your questions.
If we believe that you are eligible, we will prepare a packet. If you seek an expunction, certain documents must be sent to the State Attorney for signature. Once the packet is complete, we send it to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for them to determine your eligibility. If they find you are eligible, then they will issue a Certificate of Eligibility.
Once we have obtained a Certificate of Eligibility we will proceed to the next step which is petitioning the Court for the relief. The petition must be accompanied by a sworn affidavit that you are eligible for the relief.
The Court then decides whether to grant the sealing/expunction. The Court does not have to grant the relief just because someone is eligible for it. However, the Court must not “abuse its discretion” in denying the relief.
Seal or Expunge Your Record Now with an Experienced Jacksonville Expungement Sealing Attorney
By sealing or expunging your criminal record, you can truly retake your freedom. To see if your case is eligible, contact the experienced attorneys at Hardesty, Tyde, Green & Ashton today. We can assist you with the process and represent your case for expunction or sealing so that you can clear your record. Call us today for a free, no obligation consultation to get started.