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 expunge their records.
Expunging means that the record of your criminal arrest is physically destroyed. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement retains only one copy and that copy is not accessible to the public.
In order to qualify for expunging, 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 expungement.
- 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).
Also, in order to have a criminal arrest record expunged, one of the following has to apply:
- The arrest record you are seeking to expunge has been sealed for at least 10 years.
- You were arrested, but the State Attorney’s Office did not charge you.
- The State Attorney’s Office charged you, but those charges were dropped by the prosecutor or dismissed by the court (this includes dismissal through the completion of a pretrial diversion program).
A person who has expunged his or her record may lawfully deny the arrests covered by the expunged record, except when the person is:
- A candidate for employment with a criminal justice agency;
- 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, any district school board, any charter school, any private or parochial school, or any local governmental entity that licenses child care facilities;
- Is seeking to be licensed by the Division of Insurance Agent and Agency Services; or
- Is seeking to be appointed as a guardian
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 expunged.