How Can I Clean Up Old Criminal Records?
In Florida, a criminal record of any kind can be damaging to your future. Even if the charges were later dropped or the case was dismissed, an arrest or charges on your record could make it harder for you to get hired for a job, find rental housing, take out a loan or access federal student aid for college. Therefore, it is important to take any steps available that could help clean up your record.
Depending on the facts of the previous criminal matter at issue, you may be eligible to have a record sealed or expunged. When you contact Jonathan B. Blecher, P.A., in Miami, I can help you understand your legal options and guide you through the complex processes of petitioning for expungement or sealing.
Understanding The Difference Between Record Expungement And Record Sealing
Both of these processes have the same purpose and achieve similar results. The purpose is to hide a criminal record from public view including background checks. They achieve this in slightly different ways.
Sealing a record preserves the record itself but makes it inaccessible except to the courts and members of law enforcement. The record is considered confidential. Anyone (outside of courts and law enforcement) conducting a standard background check will not even be able to see that a record exists.
Expungement involves the physical destruction/deletion of a record, in whole or part. It will not show up in nearly any background check. However, a confidential copy of the record will continue to exist and will be accessible only to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Whether you want to seal or expunge your record, you should know that this is a lengthy and complex process. Handling it on your own would be very difficult. The good news is that working with an experienced criminal defense lawyer can greatly simplify the process and increase your chances of a successful outcome.
Not All Records Are Eligible For Sealing Or Expungement
These two processes cannot be used to eliminate or hide an entire criminal history. Instead, each petition pertains to records associated with a single run-in with the criminal justice system (arrest, charge, etc.). Moreover, not all records can be expunged or sealed. Eligibility depends on factors such as:
- The nature of the alleged offense
- How it was resolved (charges dropped/dismissed, acquittal, conviction, etc.)
- Whether all conditions and requirements related to the matter have been met (court supervision, payment of fines, etc.)
- Whether you have had a record sealed or expunged in the past
The full list of eligibility rules is lengthy and nuanced. The best way to determine your eligibility is to speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.
Learn More About Your Options During A Free Consultation
I’ve been helping Florida clients protect their rights and their criminal records for more than 30 years. If you’d like to learn what I can do for you, contact Jonathan B. Blecher, P.A., to schedule a free initial consultation. You can reach out online or call 305-321-3237.