Many years after an arrest is made and a conviction served, a criminal record can hover around you. The law can be a horrible roadblock even to those that made simple mistakes or were wrongly accused. And because criminal history records are public records in Florida, even if these charges were dropped or you were not convicted, they will still be discovered.
A public criminal record can affect your employment chances, getting college aid, adopting a child, joining the armed forces, or even seeking housing. That’s why the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) came up with sealing and expunging as a way of remedying this disparity. And a Tampa criminal defense attorney can ensure that you’re not denied your rights to an expungement if you are eligible.
What Is Expungement?
The whole purpose of both sealing and expunging is to prevent the public from accessing all records related to the criminal record in question. In an expungement, all records are destroyed and deleted. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) may keep a confidential record for limited purposes but may not see anything. An agency trying to see your record will only be informed that there was a record that was deleted.
Expungement in Florida is often part of a plea or sentencing agreement for first time offenders or juveniles. This process requires a formal procedure. Once your record is entirely expunged under Florida law, you can lawfully fail to report any arrests in the expunged record with very few exceptions that only a judge can order.
What Criminal Record Results Are Eligible for Expungement in Tampa, FL?
If you were convicted of a crime in Tampa, you do not qualify for an expungement in Florida. You are only eligible if the outcome of your case had these outcomes:
- Dismissal (Nolle Prosse) – there were formal charges against you, but the Office of the State Attorney dismissed them later
- No action – no action was taken following your arrest, there was no indictment and no charging document was present
- Acquittal – the judge or jury gave a not guilty ruling and consequently dismissed the case
Most nonviolent crimes may be expunged more, especially in juvenile cases. But the processes and rules involved for a successful expunction can be complex. That’s why you need a skilled and experienced Tampa expungement attorney to help you through the processes.
It’s good to note that not all traffic offenses are criminal. However, some like DUI and vehicular homicide are criminal, and that could mean the person would be disqualified from expunction. It would be wise and strategic to talk to a sealing and expungement lawyer in Tampa before starting the process if you know there is a history of a past traffic offense.
Which Crimes Are Not Eligible for Expungement?
Some crimes are not eligible for expunction in Florida. Under Florida § 943.0584, these crimes include:
- Sexual misconduct
- Child pornography
- Violation of the Florida Communications Fraud Act
- False imprisonment
- Assault and battery
- Abuse of an elderly or disabled adult
- Drug trafficking and manufacturing
- Lewd and lascivious offenses
- Domestic battery
If you think you may not be eligible for an expunction in Florida, talk to a Tampa expungement attorney before deciding not to petition. At Patrick B. Courtney, we will offer you specific answers that relate to your specific case.
What Are the Requirements of Expungement?
Here’s a list of requirements for an expungement in Florida:
- An ineligible record for expunction may become eligible after 10 years of being sealed
- A charge that led to a not guilty verdict can only be expunged 10 years after being sealed
- A person can delete only one arrest record in a single proceeding
- More than one record may be sealed or expunged in the same proceeding if the arrests are related
- You must attest that you have never had a record sealed or expunged previously in Florida or a different state
Certificate of Eligibility
You will need to present a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to petition the court to seal or expunge your record. Getting a COE will depend on various factors. With the help of your expungement lawyer in Tampa, you can get this certificate and proceed to petition the court to expunge your record.
Is It Possible for My Petition to Be Declined?
This is not an easy process. Your petition may end up being denied, or you may fail to get the answers that you need.
Because you only have one opportunity in your lifetime to expunge your record, make sure you do it correctly with a qualified Tampa expungement attorney by your side.
How Many Cases Can I Expunge in Florida?
People in Florida only have one chance to expunge or seal a criminal record. So if you have multiple arrests, you have to choose which one you’d like to expunge.
How Can I Expunge a Record in Tampa, FL?
The paperwork and complexity of this process can’t allow you to do it yourself. You will need to retain a sealing and expungement attorney in Florida. Your criminal defense attorney will help you in these steps:
- Apply for the Certificate of Eligibility
- File a petition of relief
- Process the petition to expunge
Aggressive Tampa Legal Professional Protecting Your Legal Rights
A criminal record can make your life difficult. And if you are arrested in Tampa, you will have a criminal record attached to you, even if it never led to a conviction. It can be detrimental to your personal and professional life. With the help of a lawyer, you may get it expunged and removed from public access.
Criminal defense attorney Patrick B. Courtney helps people in the Tampa Bay area overcome their criminal records, and he can help you too. Don’t struggle alone. Let a skilled Tampa expungement lawyer help you. Start today by getting in touch with us to discuss your case, and we’ll help you fight back.