Dismissal vs Expungement 

 April 22, 2016

By  LMW Attorneys

The difference between a dismissal and expungement may not be widely known, however, they are significant when it comes to the result of a case. Here’s everything you need to understand how a dismissed case or charge is different from one that gets expunged.

What Is a Dismissed Case?

If a prosecutor dismisses a case, it means the case has been dropped. Dismissal typically occurs if the evidence presented is not strong enough for conviction, or if the person who’s been charged has completed and performed the court-ordered community service or treatment program. If your case has been dismissed, your criminal record will show that you were initially charged but that the case was dismissed and you were not convicted of a criminal charge or offense. This means that if an employer, insurer or someone else may still be able to find out about the arrest.

What Is an Expunged Case?

Expungement refers to a case where all traces of the charges, arrest and overall case have been erased from a person’s record. All document records of expunged cases are destroyed, and employers, insurers or others will be unable to find out that there was ever a case at all. In the state of Florida, you are eligible to expunge a case once it has been dismissed, dropped or no-billed (meaning there is no information on or filing of anything related to your case).

How to Determine if You Qualify for Expungement

– How many times have you been arrested (including as a juvenile)?

– Were you ever convicted? A conviction—when you are adjudicated by the court as either guilty or delinquent—makes you ineligible for expungement.

– Have you ever sealed or expunged a prior arrest record in Florida? Under Florida law, you can only seal or expunge a criminal record once in your lifetime. If you have sealed or expunged a record previously, you are ineligible for future expungement or any charges.

– Do you have other options if you aren’t eligible for expungement? If you don’t qualify to have your record expunged, you may be able to have your record sealed. Once a record is sealed, it is confidential. The documents pertaining to the case will only be accessible to the person whose record it is, that individual’s attorney, certain law enforcement agencies and judges.

Contact Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins for Legal Help

If you have been charged with a criminal offense in West Pasco County, Fla. or the surrounding area, the expert legal team at Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins, P.A. can represent you and work to get your case dismissed or expunged. Being charged with a criminal offense can be a taxing and confusing time. If you have any questions about your case, call us today at to get started right away. We are committed to providing our clients with the best legal representation possible.

Call us at (727) 478-4125 for a free consultation by phone or at our office in Port Richey, FL.
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