Sealing Your Record
Can my DUI conviction be sealed?
When it comes to criminal charges involving alcohol-related driving offenses, the permanency of the impact that an arrest or conviction can have on your life and future should not be underestimated. For example, read the following scenarios to see if any apply to you.
- If you've been arrested, you have a record, even if the case was dismissed
- A juvenile record may not seal automatically when you turn 18
- A felony conviction never goes away unless it is expunged or sealed
- Your court arrest record is publicly accessible unless it is expunged or sealed
- Your arrest record may not ever completely disappear, even if you have a court order
If you fall into one or more of the categories above, there's still hope. There may be a way for you to seal or expunge the record. Defendant's whose cases were either dismissed or dropped may be able to seal any record of the arrest or court proceedings. Furthermore, defendants who were not convicted of DUI, but have had their charges reduced, may be eligible to request their record be sealed. This may be true in cases where a DUI charge was reduced to Reckless Driving.
What is the difference between Sealing and Expungement?
Expungement and Sealing are very similar. The process is identical, and the end result is similar. The purpose is to prevent the public from accessing the records.
Expungement is the destruction and deletion of all records, however the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) will keep a confidential record for limited purposes, but even agencies who can usually access any criminal records will be notified that the individual’s criminal record has been expunged. Florida Statutes § 943.045(16) defines expungement as: “the court-ordered physical destruction or obliteration of a record or portion of a record by any criminal justice agency having custody thereof.”
Sealing, on the other hand does not delete or destroy records. An Order to Seal places the records in highly limited access. The record can’t be disclosed, and it is considered confidential. Courts and law enforcement will still have access, however. Florida Statutes § 943.045(19) defines sealing as: “the preservation of a record under such circumstances that it is secure and inaccessible to any person not having a legal right of access to the record or the information contained and preserved therein.”
The process to seal or expunge a criminal record is long and complicated, and an experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer experienced in the process can help guide you through the complex procedure to seal or expunge your criminal record.
Sealed and Expunged Eligibility
No case can be sealed or expunged if:
It is for one of the following charges (unless the charges were dropped or dismissed):
- Aggravated Assault;
- Aggravated Battery;
- Illegal Use of Explosives;
- Child abuse or aggravated child abuse;
- Abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult;
- Aircraft piracy;
- Sexual battery;
- Sexual Misconduct with developmentally disabled person, or between an employee and a mentally ill patient
- Luring or Enticing a child;
- Procuring a Minor for Prostitution;
- Lewd or Lascivious Offenses upon or in the presence of one or more individuals under 16, or committed upon or in the presence of an elderly person or disabled person
- Violation of Florida Communications Fraud Act;
- Sexual Performance by a child;
- Criminal Conduct by public employees and officials;
- Providing Obscene Material to minors;
- Computer Pornography of a minor;
- Traveling to Meet minor (to engage in an illegal act in Chapters 784, 800, 827 or any unlawful sexual conduct) See Florida Statutes 847.0135 (4);
- Selling or Buying of minors;
- Drug Trafficking;
- Any offense which would require registration as a sexual predator according to Florida Statutes 775.21 (The Florida Sexual Predators Act);
- Sexual Activity with a minor;
- Burglary of a Dwelling;
- Any Act of Stalking
- Act of Domestic Violence;
- Home Invasion Robbery;
- Act of Terrorism;
- Manufacturing Drugs, or;
- Attempting or conspiring to commit any of the above crimes.
- There is a prior adjudication of guilt for any criminal offense or ordinance violation in any jurisdiction, this includes guilty pleas, no contest pleas, or guilty verdicts. This does not generally apply to traffic offenses, but it does with DUI and vehicular homicide. It’s recommended to speak to an attorney before beginning the process if there is a question about a past traffic offense.
- No prior adjudication of delinquency in a juvenile case for any of the following acts: Assault, Battery, Carrying a concealed weapon, Unlawful use of destructive devices or bombs, Neglect of a child, Open carrying of a weapon, Exposure of sexual organs, Unlawful possession of a firearm, Petit theft, Cruelty to animals, Arson, or Unlawful possession or discharge of a weapon or firearm at a school-sponsored event or on school property.
- There is another seal or expungement petition pending before a court in any jurisdiction.
- No adjudication of guilt or delinquency in the case where the sealing or expunging is being sought.
- No prior Sealing or expunging of a criminal record in the State of Florida.
Must include only one charge unless they all under the “related offenses
- A court “may, at its sole discretion, order the sealing of a criminal history record pertaining to more than one arrest if the additional arrests directly relate to the original arrest.” This is going to mean that multiple cases or offenses are related to a single incident or episode. See Florida Statutes §§ 943.0585 and 059.
In addition, a case can only be expunged if:
If the case was dismissed, OR
There was no other Indictment, Information or charging document filed in the case.
Additionally, sealing is only eligible when:
There is a probation or community control requirement which has been completed, including any remaining court supervision and payments of fines.
What is the Process for Expungement or Sealing Reckless Driving Records in Florida?
While a lawyer isn’t necessary to seal or expunge a record, but it is highly recommended. You want to be certain that the process isn’t delayed or denied due to the complicated nature of the process.
Applying for a Certificate of Eligibility for Court-Ordered Sealing or Expungement
The following requirements must be provided in order to obtain a Certificate
of Eligibility to petition the court for an order to seal or expunge a
criminal history record, which is the first step required toward getting
a record sealed or expunged under
Section 943.0585 or
Section 943.059, Florida Statutes (F.S.)
If proceeding under either of these statutes, you are entitled to one court-ordered
sealing or expungement in a lifetime.
- You may obtain an application for a Certificate of Eligibility by downloading the application, or by emailing the FDLE Seal and Expunge Section at SEinfo@fdle.state.fl.us, and requesting an application be sent to you.
- The application page must be filled out in full including; last name, first name, date of birth, race, sex, mailing address, permanent address, arresting agency, date of arrest, and charge(s).
- If you were given a Notice to Appear and not physically arrested, indicate the date of the Notice to Appear in place of the date of arrest.
- Applicant must sign and date the application in the presence of a notary public or a deputy clerk of the court.
Completed Written Certified Statement Page (Expunction Applications Only)
- For all expunction applications (including juveniles), the written certified statement page completed by the appropriate state attorney or statewide prosecutor is required.
- The applicant must provide a certified disposition for each case/criminal charge(s) listed on the application. This may be obtained from the clerk of court in the county where the case/charge(s) originated.
- If placed on probation, provide documentation showing termination of probation.
- For pre-trial intervention cases and other diversion programs, the applicant must provide a copy of the pretrial completion certificate or a letter of successful completion, which may substitute for a certified disposition.
Completed Fingerprint Form/Card
- The applicant must be fingerprinted by an authorized member of law enforcement or other criminal justice agency.
- The fingerprint form/card must include the applicant’s name, date of birth, signature, and date.
- The fingerprint form/card must include your signature, the signature of the official taking the fingerprints and the agency’s ORI number stamp.
- A NONREFUNDABLE money order, cashier’s check, or personal check in the amount of $75.00 made payable to FDLE must accompany the application. FDLE does not accept cash, gift cards, or temporary personal checks.
- Make sure to completely fill out and sign the check/money order.
Attorney Letterhead (if applicable)
- If you are represented by an attorney, a letter of representation from the attorney on letterhead must be submitted with the application. If an attorney letter is not received, FDLE will only correspond with the applicant.
- Make sure the appropriate mailing address is clearly indicated on this letter.
SPECIAL NOTE: It is highly recommended that you obtain and keep a copy of all pertinent documents (arrest report, certified disposition, order to seal/expunge, etc.) for your records before you secure the sealing or expunction of your criminal history record(s). A record sealed for ten (10) years is eligible for an expungement, making it very important to retain certified copies.
All of these forms must then be filed along with the FDLE certificate in that local court and served to the State Attorney’s Office. The date of receipt of the FDLE certificate starts a six-month deadline to complete all of this. The Clerk charges a filing fee of $42.00, plus additional fees for certified copies.
The order to seal or expunge must be approved and signed by a judge, sometimes this can be done without a hearing, but it can be required by the judge to go to hearing and speak to the judge directly. The entire process may take between 6-9 months.
Defense Attorney Near Me
Jonathan Blecher has helped hundreds of people by successfully obtaining sealing or expungement Orders. He is committed to defending your rights. Call 305.321.3237 or send an online message today to discuss your rights with a free consultation.
Can your criminal record just go away after 10 years?
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