The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) keeps records of every arrest in the state. Many of these records are open to the public. That means anyone performing a background check on you could find out if you have an arrest record. Even if you were innocent of the charges, the arrest might still be there.
But what if you don’t want anyone to know that you were arrested or charged with a crime? You might have the ability to seal or expunge your record under Florida law. Contact a qualified Pensacola expungement attorney today from Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon to see if you are eligible to either seal or expunge your record.
Florida law provides several ways you can seal or expunge your record. But there is too much at stake for you and your future to attempt to do this without help. A knowledgeable Pensacola, Florida expungement lawyer can help you figure out if you qualify to seal or expunge your record. There also may be steps your Pensacola expungement lawyer can take to help you become eligible to seal or expunge your record if you are ineligible right now.
According to Florida law, you have to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility from the FDLE to determine if you can either seal or expunge your record. There are instances when you might not need a Certificate of Eligibility because the court will automatically seal your criminal history under Florida law. But if you don’t qualify for automatic sealing of your records, you can complete the form and apply for your Certificate of Eligibility online.
If the FDLE says that your record is eligible, then you have the right to file a petition in court. However, you cannot file a petition in court if the FDLE refuses to give you a Certificate of Eligibility.
There are several reasons why the FDLE might deny your request. Primarily, the FDLE will deny your request if you have any convictions on your record (i.e., adjudications of guilt), including criminal traffic offenses and minor misdemeanor offenses. Additionally, Florida law does not allow anyone to seal records for sexual offenses, certain violent offenses, and some drug offenses, even if the court withheld adjudication.
Understanding the difference between sealing vs. expunging your record is important. If the court sealed your record, that means the case file exists according to the FDLE.
However, no one can see it except a limited number of people like a judge, district attorney, or law enforcement officer. Notwithstanding, other entities might be able to see your sealed record in certain instances.
But these entities can only see your record if you have applied for certain jobs, such as jobs in law enforcement or education. Other entities might also be able to see your sealed record, such as a firearms dealer if you want to buy a gun.
The public will not have access to a sealed record. Instead, the person inquiring about your record will receive a response that they cannot see the record of arrest or your criminal history because it is sealed. Our experienced Pensacola, Florida expungement attorneys can help you.
Expunging a record is a better option if you are eligible. Expunging a record under Florida law completely wipes out any evidence that your record existed. In other words, the clerk of court destroys all documents. The FDLE also erases any trace of the arrest and criminal history and helps get rid of those pesky online photos.
However, a person requesting your information for a firearms background check or investigating your application for a concealed carry permit will receive a notice of the record. This notice gives them your demographic information and a statement declaring the record is expunged. No other details are available.
If you have a sealed or expunged record, you can lawfully answer that you have no criminal record—but there are some exceptions. You must disclose your sealed record when applying for a job in law enforcement, in education, or with Child and Family Services.
You also have to disclose it if you might become a guardian, when purchasing a handgun, applying for a concealed carry permit, seeking admission to the Florida Bar, and if you file additional petitions to seal.
Having a criminal record can make life harder. You could lose out on job prospects, housing, educational opportunities, and even lose your chance to become a U.S. citizen. Therefore, it is important to get the right lawyer to help you seal or expunge your record. Fortunately, the Pensacola expungement attorneys from Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon have tremendous resources as well as vast experience you can rely on to get the job done.
Call or send us an online message today to learn how our expungement lawyers in Pensacola, Florida can help you clear your name. Our firm has been helping people since 1913, and we’d be honored to help you.