Expungement is the process of sealing or destroying records of a criminal conviction. In Florida, expungement can be a valuable tool for individuals who have been convicted of certain crimes but want to move forward with their lives without the stigma of a criminal record. Expungement can open up new job opportunities, housing options, and other benefits that may be otherwise unavailable to those with a criminal record. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at expungement, including the eligibility requirements and the process for obtaining an expungement.
How To Be Eligible For Expungement
Not everyone with a criminal record is eligible for expungement in Florida. In general, the following criteria must be met:
- The charge was dismissed, dropped, or not prosecuted
- The person was acquitted of the charge
- The person completed a pre-trial diversion program
- The person completed a sentence for a qualifying misdemeanor offense
How To Apply For Expungement in Florida
The process for obtaining an expungement can be complex and time-consuming. It is recommended that individuals seeking an expungement seek the guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. The following is a general overview of the steps involved in the expungement process:
- Obtain a copy of your criminal record. This can be done through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).
- Complete an application for expungement. This application must be filed with the appropriate court and must include a sworn statement that the individual meets the eligibility requirements for expungement.
- Obtain a certified copy of the disposition of the case. This is a court document that indicates the outcome of the case, such as a dismissal or a plea agreement.
- Submit the application, along with a filing fee, to the court that handled the case.
- Attend a hearing, if required. In some cases, a judge may require a hearing to determine whether the individual is eligible for expungement.
- If the expungement is granted, the court will order the FDLE to seal or destroy the records of the case. This process can take several months to complete.
Benefits Of Expungement
There are many benefits to having your criminal record expunged including:
- The ability to legally deny or fail to acknowledge the arrest or charge
- Increased access to employment opportunities
- Improved chances of obtaining a professional license
- Improved chances of obtaining housing
- Improved chances of obtaining financial aid for education
All these should be handled by an attorney with the experience and knowledge to protect your rights and freedom. Criminal defense lawyer Russell A. Spatz of the Spatz Law Firm, PL, in Miami, Florida, has decades of experience handling serious criminal cases.
To meet with lawyer Russell Spatz to discuss your criminal matter, please call the Spatz Law Firm, PL, at 305-442-0200. You may also contact the firm online.