Sealing vs. Expunging a Crime in Florida
Sealing a Crime in Florida
The subject of Sealing or Expunging a crime in Florida is very complicated. It depends on each individual’s history of criminal charges in Florida and even other states.
The easiest thing to do is to call us NOW for a free evaluation. We provide services, statewide, for either a Sealing or Expungement, depending on which you may be entitled to, and we can determine together what is the best choice for your future. Call us at any of the above numbers, and we will answer immediately. It takes less than five minute to determine whether you are eligible for either, and for you to decide which is your best course of action.
Each state handles the clearing or removing of criminal histories differently. In certain states, neither sealing or expunging a crime is an available option.
Other states allow you to seal or expunge a crime, depending on the state’s nomenclature, even if you have convictions.
Depending on how your cases were resolved, and if you are eligible, Florida allows you to Expunge (or destroy a file) or Seal a crime, that is to hide it from public view, discovery or knowledge under the auspices of the Clerk’s Office. In Florida, it is important to know that you can only seal or expunge one crime in your lifetime. A sealing or an expungement, not one of each, so the decision about which one is an important one, with lifetime consequences.
With a sealing or expungement, your criminal file is actually erased from the clerk’s records and remains hidden from discovery, as if it never existed or occurred. No company, person, agency or news publisher can see that the case ever occurred without special Court permission, which is rarely if ever granted. On the other hand, an expunged case is destroyed, not hidden. And once a crime is either sealed or expunged, you can therefore, under most circumstances, legally DENY that it ever occurred, even the arrest. Its as if a ‘legal fiction’ is created and it is removed from the history of the world.
Sealing in Florida is allowed for cases that are resolved as Adjudication Withheld’ Or with a Withhold of Adjudication. It makes no difference if you pled guilty, what matters is the Judge’s finding, or ‘Disposition’. The judge could even have found you Guilty, but ‘Withheld Adjudication’, meaning he did not adjudicate you guilty, so No Conviction.
If you have charges in a case that were dropped or ‘Nol Pros’, along with others that were resolved as a ‘withhold of adjudication’, you are permitted to Seal that entire case’s charges, even if there are under different case numbers, as long as they arose from the same ‘core operative facts’, i.e., not a different arrest for different crimes.
Unlike Expungements, which are for crimes that are dropped or ‘Nol Pros’ed’ by the prosecutor’s office, or dismissed, including after a Pre-Trial Diversion program, there are 31 categories of serious crimes that CANNOT be sealed (see the Florida Statute regarding Sealing (Here)) EVEN IF they were resolved as Adjudication Withheld and you might otherwise be eligible. Those 31 crimes can be expunged, however, if they were dismissed, dropped or ‘Nol Pros’ed’.
In Florida, whether you’re entitled to a Crime being Sealed or being “expunged, you cannot be entitled to such if:
- You have sealed or expunged a charge before in Florida; or
- If you have a conviction of any ‘crime’ in Florida or any other state.
You can call us NOW for an evaluation of your rights and the options available to you.
EXPUNGEMENTS IN FLORIDA (see Florida Statute (HERE)
Generally, Expungement of a charge is available only for crimes that were dropped, dismissed after a Pre-Trial Diversion Program, or ‘NOl Prossed’ or ‘No Information’ (i.e. No Indictment) Filed with the Court. In Florida, to be entitled to an expungement, you must not have any convictions of any other charges anywhere in your history, in Florida or any other state. And, you must not have ever sealed or expunged a prior case in Florida.
You may be under certain misimpressions about your rights and the available remedies, as the subject matter is complicated and each person’s history determine what their options are. The best thing is to call us to discuss your history in detail. Take five minutes for your future. We are a short phone call away.
Once a sealing or expungement has been ordered, despite what you may have thought or been told, one does not really present an advantage over the other. With either one, you can legally deny the crime ever occurred, and it cannot be found by any person, company, credit agency, landlord or government agency, other than six Florida government agencies and four Federal government agencies, which include School Boards, prosecutors and Police, Bar Associations, Children and Family Services, Public Health Licensing, the FBI, The CIA, Defense Intelligence and Homeland Security. Even though these agencies can see portions of your history, it is still advantageous for your future prospects that the process be completed, even if it only for the benefit of your public reputation, or for social opportunities. Most people are disturbed by the prospect of their family, grand kids, coworkers or significant other seeing your background, or those humiliating arrest/mugshot photos. We offer help with those as well. see *here*.
With our over 12 years of experience focusing on this subject matter, you may be able to have a record sealed or expunged in certain circumstances, even if you may have had certain convictions in your history, despite what you might have been told.
Also, we may be able to begin the sealing or expungement process even if you are still on probation, or you have an open case.
With our years of experience focusing on Sealing, Expunging and Erasing of criminal records, there are advantages to you that we can help accomplish that other practitioners cannot, or didn’t even know were available. Call us now to discuss your particular circumstances. If we cannot help you, we tell you immediately. The evaluations are always free.
Non-lawyers or those that do not specialize in this subject matter, believe in the myth that an expungement is better than a sealing. It may be, but that’s on a case by case basis, depending on the person’s history. For instance, if someone has a Withheld of Adjudication on a Felony Grand Theft Auto case that’s recent in their history, but also a Misdemeanor Marijuana possession charge from 10 years ago that is eligible for an expungement, which is better to be removed? Also, keep in mind that an expunged case is for those that were DISMISSED or DROPPED, meaning the state never actually prosecuted you with the an actual crime. They dropped the charges, so its as if it never happened, which is why its allowed to be destroyed.
With a file that’s been sealed, only those listed agencies can see the details of the crime. With a case that’s been expunged, only those listed agencies can see that you had a charged that was expunged, BUT they cannot see the details. Why is this distinction important to you?
Because, when someone sees you had a crime that was expunged, but doesn’t see the details, human imaginations automatically think the worst—they might think it’s an armed robbery, but in reality it was possession of paraphernalia, or some other minimum crime that they wouldn’t likely hold against you. So, why waste a one-time sealing or expungement opportunity on expunging a non-serious crime?
It turns out for most people, the real advantage of an expungement, as it regards their future prospects, is that certain more serious crimes can be expunged that can’t be sealed. For example, the most common of which is a crime related to Domestic Violence, which most people, even inexperienced lawyers, do not realize are NOT eligible to be sealed, even when resolved as Adjudication Withheld, but can be expunged if dropped or dismissed or Nol Pros’ed.
Now, to complicate things even further, whether you want a sealing or an expungement, UNLESS YOU HAVE YOUR RECORD REMOVED FROM PRIVATE BACKGROUND CHECK COMPANIES AND THE INTERNET afterwards, you’re usually wasting your time and money on an expungement or a sealing. The advantage of a sealing or expungement is really that it allows you to get your history, and those humiliating mugshots, erased and removed from background search companies and Internet data providers, which we have the capabilities to accomplish for you.
As will be explained in detail under ERASING AND REMOVING YOUR RECORD *here*, your records are not searched at the clerk’s site or any other government site or location. Instead, they are searched through private background check providers or on the Internet, so that is where your record must be cleared.
We are one of the few providers of sealing and expunging services in Florida that is able to accomplish that most important step for you.
Call us now for more detailed information on the process and what kind of relief you might be eligible for. Five minutes can make you a better future.