An arrest record stays with a person for life and is an obstacle for obtaining future employment, educational opportunities, financial aid and housing. Under some circumstances, however, a person may qualify to have his criminal record expunged. If you were arrested and the charges were dismissed before trial, you may be eligible for an expungement; however, certain crimes will never qualify. The expungement, or expunction, of criminal records virtually erases the applicant’s criminal past and allows him a fresh start in the eyes of the law. At first, records are merely sealed, but information can be fully expunged 10 years later.
What it Takes to Qualify for an Expunction
In order to qualify for an expunction, a claimant brings a judicial case or administrative claim to expunge the criminal pursuant to statutory authority. When bringing the case, the court will consider the following:
– Crime committed qualifies for expunction
– The kind of crime was not specifically ineligible for expunction
– Whether the claimant was a first-time offender
– Whether the claimant had any prior expunctions
– The waiting period before seeking relief was satisfied
– The claimant’s recent or pending criminal activity or lack thereof
– If not granting the expunction would harm the claimant’s privacy and would not do justice in the particular instance
Qualifying Under Florida Law
Florida statutes have set forth standards that an applicant seeking expunction is required to meet. As well as meeting the criteria outlined in the statute, applicants must file an application to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) for a Certificate of Eligibility. The grant of a Certificate of Eligibility does not automatically guarantee an expunction of adult criminal records. Rather, it means that the applicant is eligible under the statute for expunction. For juvenile criminal records, slightly different procedures apply. Pursuant to statute, juvenile criminal records are subject to a shortened retention time, automatically expunging the records after a certain time has passed.
Contact Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins for Legal Counsel
If you believe you may be eligible for expunction, it is important to speak to an attorney to know all of your rights. Contact the legal team at Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins for assistance today.