Seal / Expunge Criminal Records

You may be eligible to have a criminal case sealed or expunged. If you are successful in having your case sealed or expunged, you are allowed to deny it ever happened, subject to a few limited exceptions. Just because you qualify does not mean you will be successful in having your record sealed or expunged. After FDLE determines you qualify, a motion must be filed with the court and the State (Prosecution) can object. In that case, you would need a hearing before a judge and the judge will make the final determination. An experienced Seal / Expungement Attorney can help you tie you get this done as quickly as possible. Visit our FAQ page for answers to common questions.

Why Should I have my record Sealed or Expunged?

There are several benefits to having your record sealed or expunged. The most common reason people seek to do this is to clear their name and prevent the case from appearing in background checks when applying for employment, housing rentals, and such. The other great benefit is that you have the legal right to deny you were ever even arrested for the offense. There are some exceptions to this right.

Why do I have to Seal or Expunge my case if the charges were dropped or dismissed?

Florida law requires that criminal cases are public record unless sealed or expunged. See Fla. Stat. 943.053(3). Criminal history exists when a person is arrested and fingerprinted, and includes the disposition, and includes the disposition (resolution) of that arrest, whether it is a conviction, acquittal, dismissal of charges prior to trial, or some other result.

What is the difference between Seal and Expunge?

When you seal a record, the public will not longer have access to it. Certain government entities will still have access to a record that is sealed. When you expunge a record, those certain government entities would not have access without a court order and would be informed that the record has been expunged. The public would have no access to an expunged record.

Can anything be done about my mugshot being posted online?

Many private companies have found a way to profit from other peoples’ misfortunes and have used Florida’s public records laws to their benefit. Unfortunately, these private companies are not required to take down your mugshot from their websites. There are some ways to deal with these companies but the process is not easy.

How long does it take to Seal or Expunge my case?

The process can take several months and the reason it takes so long is because we have obtained a certificate of eligibility from Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) before getting a court order. FDLE has a waiting list to process your case. The current wait period is approximately 90 days. Once the certificate of eligibility is obtained, a judge must make a final ruling.

How many cases can I have Sealed or Expunged?

Only one (1). Florida Statute s. 943.0585(2)(f) and s. 943.059(2) says that you can not get a case sealed or expunged if you have ever had any criminal history sealed or expunged. There is a provision that allows FDLE to seal or expunge multiple arrest dates, at their discretion, if the incidents are sufficiently related to each other.

Can I Expunge a record that was previously Sealed?

Yes after 10 years.

Breakdown of Seal/Expunge

Sealed: All government records are concealed from public view

  • Qualification
    • Charge must be a Qualifying offense
    • Withhold of adjudication (means not a conviction)
    • No other convictions
    • Even if you plead guilty, if adjudication was withheld, you still qualify
    • FDLE must issue a certificate of eligibility
  • Effect of having it sealed
    • Your case will not be available to the public
    • Law Enforcement may still access it.
    • You have the legal right to deny the case ever existed, including the arrest. There are some exceptions including employment by law enforcement, employment by a school or daycare, or admission to the Florida Bar. In those cases, you must still disclose.
    • All governmental agencies will seal the file from public view.
    • The case should not show up on regular background checks

Expunged: All government records are purged.

  • Case must have been dropped, pretrial diversion, case was dismissed, or an acquittal (not guilty) after trial.
  • Effect of Expungement
    • Case file is physically destroyed
    • No public access to your case
    • The case should not show up on regular background checks
    • You can legally deny the existence of the case and arrest, with a few limited exceptions (same as a seal)

Note: We do recommend you keep a copy of your case information for your personal records.

FDLE is allowed to disclose the existence but not the contents of your case if you are seeking employment with the following:

  • The Florida Bar
  • The Department of Children and Family Services
  • The Department of Juvenile Justice
  • A contractor or licensee in a sensitive position having direct contact with children
  • The Department of Education
  • Any public or private school
  • A Criminal Justice Agency
  • A local government agency that licenses child care facilities

Your Right To Deny – Exceptions

  • A defendant in a criminal prosecution;
  • Concurrently or subsequently petitioning for to have another unrelated criminal episode sealed or expunged ;
  • A candidate for admission to The Florida Bar;
  • Seeking to be employed, licensed by, or contracted with:
  • The Department of Children and Family Services
  • The Department of Juvenile Justice
  • Any Criminal Justice Agency
  • A sensitive position having direct contact with children
  • The Department of Education
  • Any public or private school
  • A local government agency that licenses child care facilities

Most charges do qualify, however, there are some that will not qualify if the defendant was found guilty or plead guilty or nolo contendere, even if adjudication was withheld.

Disqualifying Charges

Most charges do qualify, however, there are some crimes that will not qualify if the defendant was found guilty or pled…

Do I Qualify

Do you qualify? Click below to see a break down of Seal and Expunge and see if you qualify for either.

FAQ

Do you have questions regarding Expunge/Seal? Check out the answers to the most commonly asked questions.