Keeping Your Record Clean Is So Important
Five Facts About Keeping Your Record Clean
There are some very important things you need to know about your criminal record after a DUI arrest:
- You likely have a record if you have ever been arrested – even if the charges were dropped or the case was otherwise dismissed.
- Your arrest record will be publicly visible unless you take steps to have it sealed or expunged.
- Even with a court order hiding it from public view, your arrest record may not completely disappear.
- Juvenile records are typically supposed to seal automatically when someone turns 18, but this doesn’t always happen.
- If you have a felony conviction, the only way to remove it from public view is to have it sealed or expunged.
There is a way you could eradicate the record of your arrest from criminal justice agencies. Clients whose cases were dropped or dismissed might be eligible to seek expungement. Clients who successfully complete the terms of their criminal sentence or probation may be eligible to request a seal of their record if the court withheld adjudication of guilt. The sealing process can be time-consuming and tedious for the average person. I can guide you through the process, file all the necessary forms, pay fees and obtain an order from the court sealing or expunging your record.
The Difference Between Sealing And Expungement
Record sealing and expungement are two different things, but with little practical difference. If you were arrested, plead guilty or no contest to the charges, or were found guilty after a trial and adjudication was withheld, you may be eligible to apply for sealing. If your case was either dismissed by the judge or dropped by the state and did not proceed to trial, you can apply for expungement. By getting your record sealed, the public will not have access to this record. If asked if you have been arrested, you can answer “No.” Some government agencies or agencies related to the government will have access to a criminal history record that has been sealed and you cannot deny the arrest to them.
When a criminal history record has been expunged, the record is destroyed and cannot be accessed except by law enforcement or the courts, by court order. Without a signed order they will only see a statement describing that a criminal history record has been expunged.
Back On Track Success Stories
The Back on Track Program can provide a great alternative disposition for some first-time DUI offenders. But, not everyone is eligible for the program. Some first-time offenders are disqualified for admission into the program because their cases involve a crash, they have minors in the car, have too many serious moving traffic violations in the past five years or have very high blood alcohol levels. If you are facing your first DUI charge, speak with me, a DUI attorney, to discuss whether the DUI diversion program may be beneficial for your case.
Here are just a few examples of how I have been able to help my clients by securing their admission into the program, despite ineligibility:
SUCCESS STORY #1
Client was a college student at the University of Miami. He struck an unoccupied police cruiser from the rear, causing the cruiser to cross six lanes of traffic. Breath alcohol level .17. Client not eligible for Back on Track.
I compiled a mitigation package containing dozens of letters of recommendation, accomplishments, college transcripts and community service for presentation to the State Attorney’s Office. Then, I met with the officer involved in the case and obtained his consent for referral to the program. Met with the Chief of County Court for the State Attorney’s Office and obtained approval.
SUCCESS STORY #2
Client is a professor at a local college. She allegedly bumped the rear of a taxi cab that stopped suddenly at an intersection. Technically not permitted to enroll in the Back on Track Program.
I provided the State Attorney’s Office with photographs of the client’s car, as well as the taxi cab. Photos showed that no crash of any significance occurred. Client was admitted with the approval of the State Attorney’s Office.
SUCCESS STORY #3
Client is a hotel concierge on South Beach. Arrested for DUI traveling 90 mph, with open containers of alcohol in the car. Breath test result, .22. Driving record revealed more than 15 moving violations in the past 10 years. Not eligible for Back on Track.
I moved to vacate some of the past driving convictions and sent the client to enroll in DUI school and take YouImpact classes prior to discussing case with prosecutors. Obtained approval from the police officer and prosecutors to refer to program.
SUCCESS STORY #4
Client works for a major newspaper publishing company. Client has one prior arrest for DUI, but no conviction, as that charge was successfully defended by me. Allegedly found throwing up at a local gas station inside the car and observed by helicopters. Prior arrest makes the client ineligible.
Persuaded prosecutors that the stop of the client’s car was likely illegal and that they might not win a motion to suppress all evidence, on the last day of the speedy trial time period. Rather than risking losing the case completely, the state offered us participation in the program.
Not Completing The Program Is Serious Business
The Back on Track Program in Miami-Dade County was created by the State Attorney’s Office, so your trial judge can’t and won’t intervene if you don’t complete the conditions of the program – or you pick up a new law violation. The result of either of these circumstances is that your case is returned to court for criminal prosecution.
What Can Happen If They Bounce You Out Of The Program?
Things like not completing community service hours in time, or unfulfilled financial obligations are on the low end of the severity scale when it comes to getting the prosecutors to agree to re-enrolling you or extending your time for completion. In many cases, an experienced Miami DUI attorney can negotiate a re-enrollment. However, failing a drug test, picking up a new law violation (not a traffic ticket) or failing an ignition interlock device blow will bounce your case right back to a trial date.
Also, keep in mind that the State Attorney’s Office requires program participants to sign a “Statement of Personal Responsibility” acknowledging driving under the influence at the time of the arrest. The statement also requires you to waive any challenge to the legal admissibility of the document when the prosecutors attempt to use it at your trial. A few judges even require you to read the statement aloud in court and record your voice doing so.
What Can You Do?
Call me at 786-785-2035 or contact me online. I will work to correct their mistake by filing a motion with the court to require the clerk to remove, correct or amend the public record that wrongfully documents you as having received a conviction.
The choice of participating in the program is a serious one. If you make it – do it right and don’t mess up.