There are very strict criteria for sealing or expunging court records. Some of the requirements are:
- You have been charged but not convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense because adjudication was withheld.
- The State Attorney declined to prosecute.
- You have not had any other court record sealed or expunged in the State of Florida.
You may be eligible to have court records pertaining to your case sealed or expunged. By Florida law, there are certain charges that cannot be sealed or expunged regardless of whether or not adjudication was withheld.
There are significant differences between a sealed record and a record that has been expunged.
A sealed record could be opened for inspection by a Judge, you, your attorney, a criminal justice agency and in special situations, a prospective employer. The Clerk must receive a motion and order (signed by the Judge) to unseal the record for this to occur.
A charge that was dismissed before trial (e.g., no information filed, nolle prosequi, dismissed, etc.) may be expunged immediately as long as all charges related to the arrest were so disposed of, and the individual is otherwise eligible. You can apply to have the record expunged immediately after the case is dismissed. To expunge a criminal record means that the public is not allowed access to any of the records of the arrest or prosecution. When a record has been expunged, those entities which would have access to a sealed record will be informed that the subject of the record has had the record expunged but would not have access to the contents of the record itself without a court order. Such entities would receive only a caveat statement indicating that a Criminal Information has been Expunged from this Record.
An expunged record would no longer exist, since the file and any references to that file are destroyed. However, as per Florida Rule 3.692, the record of arrest must have been sealed for at least 10 years; or an indictment or information was not filed against the defendant for the criminal transaction; or an indictment or information filed against the defendant was dismissed by the prosecutor of the court.
You will not be eligible to have your record sealed or expunged even if you received a withhold of adjudication after entering a plea to or being found guilty of any of the following offenses:
Illegal use of explosives;
Child abuse or Aggravated Child Abuse;
Abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult, or aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult;
Lewd, lascivious, or indecent assault or act upon or in the presence of a child under the age of 16 years;
Sexual activity with a child who is 12 years of age or older but less than 18 years of age by or at the solicitation of a person in familial or custodial authority;
Burglary of a dwelling;
Stalking or Aggravated Stalking;
Act of Domestic Violence
Act of Terrorism
Manufacturing any substances in violation of Chapter 893
Attempting or conspiring to commit any of the above crimes.