As a general rule, criminal court and arrest records are public. That means anyone can go to online and find out if someone’s ever been arrested, charged, or convicted of a crime.
To maintain their privacy and avoid problems with potential employers, persons with prior brushes with the law may want to seal their records.
Sealing means that the courts and criminal justice agencies retain the record of your criminal arrest, but the records are not accessible to the public.
In order to qualify for sealing, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:
- You have never previously sealed or expunged a criminal arrest record.
- You have never been adjudicated guilty of a criminal offense nor adjudicated delinquent as a juvenile for committing a felony or a misdemeanor specified in section 943.051(3)(b), Florida Statutes.
- You were not adjudicated guilty of the offense for which you are seeking sealing.
- You are not currently under court supervision.
- The criminal arrest record you are seeking to seal is not an ineligible offense (ineligible offenses include: a plea of guilty or no contest to charges of aggravated assault, aggravated battery, burglary of a dwelling, domestic violence, stalking, drug trafficking, and drug manufacturing).
A person who has sealed his or her record may lawfully deny the arrests covered by the sealed record, except when the person is:
- A candidate for employment with a criminal justice agency;
- Is a candidate for admission to The Florida Bar;
- Is seeking a job with a state agency that involves having direct contact with children, the disabled, or the elderly;
- Is seeking to be employed or licensed by the Department of Education, a district school board, a university laboratory school, a charter school, a private or parochial school, or a local governmental entity that licenses child care facilities;
- Is attempting to purchase a firearm;
- Is seeking to be licensed by the Division of Insurance Agent and Agency Services;
- Is seeking to be appointed as a guardian; or
- Is seeking a concealed weapons or concealed firearm permit.
However, with respect immigration issues it’s very important that you consult with an experienced immigration attorney before making any statement about a record that has been sealed.