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Sealing vs. Expunging Criminal Records in Florida


Anyone with a criminal record can tell you what a tremendous impact a record can have on your life. From finding a job to signing a lease, having a criminal record can make it difficult to move forward with your life even long after you have repaid your debt to society. Fortunately, some criminal records in Florida are eligible to be “sealed” or “expunged”. When a record is sealed no one may view the contents of the record without first obtaining a court order. However, when a criminal record is expunged it is entirely removed from the public record and it is as if the record incident never occurred. The key difference to keep in mind is that a sealed record still physically and legally exists while an expunged record, on the other hand, is completely wiped away. Read on to learn about the eligibility requirements and application processes involved in sealing and expunging criminal records in Florida.

Sealing a Criminal Record: Eligibility Requirements 

According to Florida Statute section 943.0585, a criminal record can only be sealed in Florida if you (a) entered a plea, or (b) went to trial and the court withheld the conviction against you. Additionally, a record can not be sealed in Florida if you were ultimately found to be guilty by a court of law, or if you were charged with a crime that is not eligible to be sealed (for example, arson, child abuse, robbery, manslaughter, trafficking in controlled substances, homicide, kidnapping, etc.). 

Expunging a Criminal Record: Eligibility Requirements 

Under Florida Statute section 943.059, a criminal record in Florida may only be expunged if you were (a) arrested but not charged with a crime, (b) arrested and charged with a crime that was later dismissed, or (c) arrested, charged, and ultimately found to be not guilty in a court of law. Please note that a criminal record which resulted in a conviction is generally not eligible to be expunged in Florida.

Applying to Have a Criminal Record Sealed or Expunged in Florida 

Before you apply to have a criminal record sealed or expunged in Florida be aware that you are only permitted to have one criminal history record sealed or expunged in your lifetime, so make sure that you choose wisely!

Once you are sure that you would like to apply to have a record sealed or expunged you can start the application process by obtaining a Florida Department of Law Enforcement Seal/Expunge packet. Next, you will need to complete and submit all forms contained in the packet, include copies of your fingerprints, attach a copy of the disposition of the cases that you want to have sealed or expunged, have your signature notarized by a notary public, and include a money order or cashier’s check in the amount of $75.00. After the Florida Department of Law Enforcement determines that your record is eligible to be sealed or expunged they will issue a Certificate of Eligibility which you must in turn submit to the Clerk’s Office along with several additional forms and a filing fee.

Contact Us for Professional Help 

Here at the Madonna Law Group our Dade City sealing records attorneys have extensive experienced obtaining expungements and sealing criminal records for clients throughout Florida. If you would like help expunging or sealing a criminal record feel free to contact our Dade City office today by calling us toll free at (800) 557-0411.



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