Expungement & Sealment

This is whereby a person who was arrested and/or charged with a crime files a Petition to have his or her earlier criminal record sealed or to “remove from general review”. When records pertaining to a case are removed in their entirely from the general viewing, the process is called expungement. Expungement means having a criminal record physically destroyed. Sealment is a situation whereby a criminal record of a person is sealed, and the public cannot have access to it unless a court order is presented.

If you need to have criminal records sealed or expunged and need legal representation, the Law Office of Karla Y. Campos-Andersen ESQ. P.A. can advice you on all matters related to Expungement & Sealment.

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Understanding Your Rights

Florida law allows you to seal or expunge your Florida criminal record history, including all non-judicial criminal records and judicial records, related to one criminal episode, if you meet all of the below criteria.

    • You should have no record of a previous sealing or expungement of criminal records.
    • You should have never been formally convicted of any criminal offense by a judge; this includes getting convicted by plea or through a trial.
    • Any criminal case against you was either dismissed or you were found not guilty of the offense.
    • One should be under no court supervision, probation, pretrial release or under house arrest.
    • A first-time offender can be sentenced before a judge, and the sentence may be a withhold of adjudication. This means the Court has withheld the adjudication of guilt. In this case, one is not considered guilty unless the judge says otherwise.  As as long as the above criteria is met, you may seek a Sealment.

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    Benefits of expungement and sealment

    In case a person is seeking a job and in the event of an interview a question of criminal record appears, one has the benefit of denying this if he had been granted an expungement in the past. Even after enjoying the benefits of withholds of adjudication or a case is dismissed, a person should do a follow up to get the record cleaned by applying for an expungement or sealment. Unless expunged or sealed, a criminal record on a person is regarded as public record and anyone has access to this information. Once a background investigation is conducted on a person who has been expunged, no criminal record on the person is found. A criminal justice agency is obliged to destroy or obliterate any history of criminal record of a person who has been expunged. 

    How much does it cost to have my Florida criminal record sealed or expunged?

    There is a $75.00 (seventy five dollars) Florida Department of Law Enforcement fee and a $42.50 (forty two dollars and 50 cent) Clerk Fee, plus any attorney fees.

    How is sealing a criminal record different from expunging it?

    When the Court expunges a criminal record it is removing the file completely. If the Court seals a record it is just hiding the record.

    Why can't I just expunge my criminal record instead of sealing it?

    You can, but you must have been found not guilty or the charges must have been dropped against you.

    What effect does sealing or expunging my record have?

    It has many effects, but most importantly when applying for a job you may state that you were never arrested or charged with a crime.

    I had multiple charges from one arrest; can I seal or expunge them all?

    So long as they all fall under once case number you can seal or expunge them all.

    How long does it take to seal or expunge my criminal record?

    It can take anywhere between 4 to 6 months. Sometimes longer depending on the Florida Department Law Enforcement back log.

    What steps are involved in sealing or expunging my criminal record?

    There must be an application for approval by the State Attorney’s Office. Then you request an approval from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Once you receive the certificate of approval, a Petition for Expungment or Sealment, must be filed with the Court. Such Petition must be scheduled for a hearing. At the hearing the Judge makes the final determination whether they will grant to expunge or seal a record.