While juvenile mistakes could be excused, some are so severe that when an officer takes note, they could leave you with a damaging juvenile record. You could be arrested, detained, and judged guilty of serious crimes, which could affect your future profoundly. To prevent this from happening, you may want to consider sealing or expunging your juvenile criminal record.

The law in Florida addresses the expungement of juvenile records. Engaging a Tampa criminal defense lawyer to evaluate your options would be an ideal starting point. They can guide you on the steps to clean your record so that you can access various job and life opportunities in the future.

What Happens to My Juvenile Criminal Record in Florida?

Contrary to what most people believe, your juvenile criminal history will show in a background check conducted by a school, employer, or landlord.

The courts in Florida automatically destroy juvenile records at certain ages, mostly at the age of 21, but there are some exceptions.

Records Automatically Expunged at 21 Years

The general rule is for juvenile criminal records to be automatically destroyed at 21 years. Exceptions to this rule include:

  • If the crime the juvenile committed was serious
  • If the juvenile was committed to an adult correctional facility or juvenile prison
  • If the court declared the juvenile a habitual offender
  • If the individual continues to face charges for certain crimes after turning 18
  • If the juvenile engaged in a sexual offense on or after their 14th birthday

If these situations don’t apply to you by the time you turn 21, you don’t need to take any action to have your juvenile criminal record expunged.

Records Automatically Expunged at 26 Years

Your juvenile criminal record will automatically be expunged when you turn 26 if:

  • You committed a serious crime
  • You were designated a habitual juvenile offender
  • You remain without a record of forcible felony charges as an adult

Can I Request for My Juvenile Records to Check If I Have a Criminal Record?

Requests for confidential youth records happen through the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. These are then processed in the Office of General Counsel through the Public Records. The Bureau of Human resources is responsible for handling employment record requests and employment verifications.

Records in the custody of the Department of its agents are not public records unless otherwise exempt under Chapter 119, Florida Statutes. The records can only be viewed and copied by the juvenile, their Sealing and expungement lawyer in Tampa, select law enforcement and government agencies, or the juvenile’s parents or guardians.

Requesting Your Juvenile Record

To request your juvenile records, you must sign a Records Release Form in the presence of a notary and send it back to the Public Records Unit. It must reach the Unit before it processes your request, and you can send it via regular mail, email, or hand delivery.

For requestors below 17 years, the form must be signed by a legal guardian. Requestors who are 18 years or older must complete the form by themselves. You can seek the help of a sealing and expungement lawyer in Tampa if you’re unsure of what to expect and all that goes into requesting your juvenile records.

Can I Petition to Have My Juvenile Criminal Record Expunged Between Ages 18 and 21?

You may want to have your juvenile criminal records before you turn 21. In that case, you may qualify if:

  • You’re older than 18 but not more than 21 years
  • You have not been convicted of a crime in the last five years

The expungement process for juvenile criminal records is similar to that of an adult criminal record. If your expungement application is approved, you could deny ever having a criminal record when applying for employment, housing, or education.

What Are Options in Expunging My Juvenile Criminal Record?

The first step to seal or expunge a criminal history record is to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility. However, the record won’t be expunged until the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) has received a certified court order from the court.

Several relief options are available for sealing or expunging criminal records history as authorized by various statutes.

Court-Ordered Expungement

On May 12, 2022, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the HB 195 Juvenile Diversion Expunction order as a bipartisan reform measure. It stipulates that juveniles who complete their court-ordered diversion programs can be able to erase their criminal records, including some non-forcible felonies. The new order would remove a historical barrier for about 26,000 youths.

HB 195 excludes forcible felonies like carjacking, manslaughter, murder, treason, robbery, aggravated stalking, and home-invasion robbery. These could previously be expunged in SB 274, which raised concerns about its negative impact on public safety.

Administrative Expungement

A juvenile arrest made contrary to the law or by mistake can be destroyed by applying to the FDLE. A Tampa sealing and expungement lawyer can guide you on the procedure as provided in the Florida Statutes Section 943.0581 and the Florida Administrative Code, Rule 11C-7.008.

Juvenile Diversion Expungement

Upon completing a diversion program for a felony other than a forcible felony or misdemeanor offense, a juvenile may apply for juvenile diversion expungement.

Human Trafficking Expungement

Anyone who is a victim of trafficking may apply for expungement of their criminal history record. That is, if the criminal record is associated with the arrest or charges for an offense committed as part of the human trafficking scheme of which they were a victim as per Section 943.0583 of Florida Statutes.

A Dedicated Criminal Defense Attorney Helping You Get a Fresh Start

A criminal record that you earned as a minor can have devastating effects on your future. Fortunately, Florida statutes allow you to petition expungement of your juvenile criminal record. Doing so gives you a clean slate on which you can start over and live your life as though you never had a criminal record.

Let a Tampa criminal record sealing and expunging attorney guide you to enhance your chances of a successful expungement application. Legal professionals understand how the law works and will fight for your rights and interests. We have a skilled and dedicated criminal defense lawyer at our firm ready to help you. Get in touch with us for answers about record sealing and expungement.