Frequently Asked Questions: Record Sealing and Expungements
As a lawyer for nearly 30 years, I have been asked a few questions more than one time. For your convenience, below are some of the most commonly asked questions and answers dealing with expungement and record sealing:
What is the difference between record sealing and expungement?
With record sealing, your criminal history is sealed — literally — and put away in a secure vault. Your entire record, including booking photos, fingerprints, disposition and arrest record will no longer be available to the public. It removes your record from public view, but certain governmental agencies may still have access to it.
With expungement, your criminal history is treated as if the conviction never occurred, and there will be absolutely no record of your arrest or conviction. Not even governmental agencies can access it without a court order to do so. An expungement can restore your right to vote, hold public office and serve on a jury.
When asked about my criminal history, can I say I have none?
Once a record is sealed or expunged, you can legally deny anything having to do with your arrest and criminal case. That means you can respond "no" to any question related to being arrested or convicted of a crime on a loan or job application.
Why is record sealing or expungement important?
- Prevents discrimination against people with minor or old convictions when employers do criminal background checks
- Levels the playing field when you apply for jobs, housing, loans and educational opportunities
- Allows you to apply for professional licenses — important for doctors, nurses and teachers
- Restores your right to vote, hold public office and serve on a jury
- Prevents you from being denied ownership of a gun
- Almost all youth coaching and teaching positions require a clean criminal history
- Prevents being denied the ability to adopt a child or become a foster parent
- Ensures that reckless behavior as a juvenile does not come to haunt you as an adult
- Prevents being banned from eligibility for federally funded public housing, assistance and food stamps
- Once you have your record expunged, it can never be used against you again
Why do I have a criminal history record when the charges against me were dropped/dismissed?
Florida criminal history records are public unless the record is sealed or expunged. A criminal history record is created when a person is arrested and fingerprinted, and it includes the disposition of that arrest — no matter if there was a conviction, acquittal, dismissal of charges before trial or you were found not guilty.
How long does it take to get my criminal history record sealed or expunged?
It can take up to six months total. There is no legal way to speed up the process.
Can I appeal the denial of my application?
Yes. You can either ask that the denial go through a review process if you believe there is an error or that the information is incomplete, or you can appeal if you believe that the law has been applied or interpreted wrong in your case. As your attorney, I can help.
Will the Florida Department of Law Enforcement notify the agencies involved with my case that the record has been sealed or expunged?
Once FDLE seals or expunges the criminal history record, a notification letter will be sent by FDLE to the arresting agencies involved with your case. The notification letter is to inform the agencies that FDLE has received and complied with the order in accordance with the seal or expunge statutes.
How does the Florida Department of Law Enforcement determine my eligibility?
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement conducts criminal history record checks through the following databases:
- The Florida Crime Information Center (FCIC).
- The National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
- The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV).
They will then use this information to determine whether or not you are eligible.
Why is the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles checked to determine my eligibility to have my criminal history record sealed or expunged?
A criminal offense such as DUI, driving while your license is suspended or reckless driving may appear in the DHSMV database even though it may not be entered in the criminal history record system maintained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Contact Us Today
We can help you restore your good name and reputation. Call Florida lawyer Robert Serrone at 888-531-8969 or contact us online. Robert Serrone, P.A. helps clients in sealing and expunging criminal records in the Fort Lauderdale area, Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, South Florida and throughout the entire State of Florida.