Sealing and Expungement of Records in Florida
Do you need assistance in having a criminal record sealed or expunged in Palm Beach County or Florida? Florida law provides rights for the sealing or expungement of criminal records in certain circumstances. West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney Bryan Raymond has represented dozens of clients in Palm Beach County in having their criminal records sealed or expunged. It is imperative for your ability to both secure future employment and successfully rent a home to ensure that, to the extent possible under Florida law, any criminal record you may have is expunged or sealed if possible. Therefore, if you are in need of an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you in doing so, contact criminal defense attorney Bryan Raymond.
What is the Difference between Sealing and Expungement of a Criminal Record?
Sealing records obscures information from being accessed by the majority of people, including the general public. However, sealing records related to a criminal case means that the records still exist, but access to them is only limited to a very small subset of authorized persons, such as a judge or clerk of court office personnel. Meanwhile, expungement is a more permanent process that permits public records to be destroyed entirely.
Florida Law Regarding Expungement and Sealing of Criminal Records
Florida law permits both sealing and expungement for offenses for which adults were never convicted. Initially, records are sealed, but information can be expunged after 10 years elapse following the sealing of the criminal proceeding file. If your case has been dismissed or dropped, then it is eligible to be expunged. If your case resulted in a withholding of adjudication, you may be eligible to have it sealed. Information about many serious offenses can never be expunged or sealed, however, including crimes such as arson, homicide, terrorism, sexual crimes against minors, stalking, kidnapping, and sexual battery.
Juvenile offenses are automatically expunged at age 23 or 25, depending upon the defendant’s criminal history and nature of the offenses. Juveniles also can petition a court for sealing if charges were dismissed or if the juvenile successfully completed a diversion program.
Why Having Your Criminal Records Sealed or Expunged if Possible is Important
One reason it is important to have your Florida criminal record sealed or expunged if possible are the collateral consequences of a criminal record. Today most employers will not make a job offer to a candidate before having performed a background check. In addition, most prospective landlords will also perform a criminal background check on potential tenants before agreeing to enter into a lease. Thus, being convicted (or even accused) of a crime can be devastating for a person’s whole life aside from the criminal penalties, which the person will face, as it can result in lost job opportunities and other collateral consequences.