Can I Clear My Criminal Record
If you are accused of a crime, your freedom, your family, your reputation, your immigration status, and your job may be at stake. A national background check is an investigation into a person’s identity and past. Unlike local background checks, the national background check focuses on investigating details of a person’s life throughout an entire country. Many employers perform national background checks on potential employees, especially those who will have to handle money or sensitive information. Some employers also perform national background checks on employees who have close, personal contact with people on a daily basis.
If you have been charged with criminal violations in the past, the record of those charges may affect your ability to get work, housing, public benefits, financial aid for education, to drive or to enjoy other rights or privileges, such as voting.
What Is Expungement?
Expungement refers to the process of sealing arrest and conviction records. Virtually every state has enacted laws that allow people to expunge arrests and convictions from their records. Though the details can vary from one state to the next, most states’ laws provide that once an arrest or conviction has been expunged, it need not be disclosed, including to potential employers or landlords. For example, assume that Joe was convicted of petty theft and later had the conviction expunged. This was Joe’s only brush with the criminal justice system. If Joe applies for a job and the application asks, “Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offense?” Joe can honestly answer, “No.”
Criminal Record Expungement Process FAQ
- How do I have a criminal history record sealed or expunged? Florida Statutes, s.943.0585 and s.943.059, set forth the criteria that must be met in order to be eligible to have an adult criminal history record sealed or expunged. In addition, these statutes also state that in order to have a criminal history record sealed or expunged within the State of Florida, an individual must first make application to the FDLE for a Certificate of Eligibility. Please note that the issuance of a Certificate of Eligibility does not mean that your criminal history record will be ordered sealed or expunged. It merely indicates that you are statutorily eligible for the type of relief that is being requested. The criminal history record of a minor may also be eligible for other forms of expunction, as noted at Question No. 14, below.
- Where can I find the application for Certification of Eligibility? The FDLE provides applications for Certification of Eligibility to the Clerk of Courts in all sixty-seven (67) counties throughout the State of Florida. These application packages may be obtained from the criminal division within each county courthouse. Please contact your local county Clerk’s office for additional information. If you reside outside the State of Florida, you may request that an application package be mailed to you.
- Why do I have a criminal history record when the charges against me were dropped/dismissed? The Florida Legislature has determined that Florida criminal history records are public unless the record is sealed or expunged. See Section 943.053(3), Florida Statutes, which provides for public access to criminal history records. The term “criminal history information” is defined, tracking the federal definition, at Section 943.045(4), Florida Statutes. A criminal history record is created when a person is arrested and fingerprinted, and includes the disposition of that arrest, whether it is a conviction, acquittal, dismissal of charges before trial, or other disposition.
- Should I obtain a copy of my criminal history record prior to applying for a Certificate of Eligibility? Under Florida and federal law, an individual has the right to request a copy of his or her criminal history record for purposes of review, to ensure that it is both accurate and complete. This process is known as a Personal Review. The requestor may examine the record obtained through Personal Review for accuracy and to challenge any information contained within the criminal history record that the record subject believes is inaccurate or incomplete. No charge is assessed by FDLE for this service. See s.943.056, Florida Statutes. A Personal Review allows an individual to determine which, if any, date(s) of arrest the applicant will be eligible to have sealed or expunged. However, obtaining a personal review is not a prerequisite to applying for a certificate of eligibility to seal or expunge a criminal history record.
- What is the difference between having a criminal history record sealed vs. expunged? When a criminal history record is sealed, the public will not have access to it. Certain governmental or related entities, primarily those listed in s. 943.059(4)(a), Florida Statutes, have access to sealed record information in its entirety. 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 a record expunged, but would not have access to the record itself without a court order. All they would receive is a caveat statement indicating that “Criminal Information has been Expunged from this Record”.
Having A Criminal Defense Attorney To Represent You
If you are accused of a crime, your freedom, your family, your reputation, your immigration status, and your job may be at stake. The outcome you receive in the criminal justice system depends upon the experience and knowledge of the defense attorney you choose to represent you.
When you retain the law firm of Andrew D. Stine, P.A., you do not simply retain a nationally recognized criminal defense lawyer. You retain a criminal defense team who has worked together for years and successfully represented clients in virtually every type of criminal case, including:
- Animal cruelty, such as dog fighting, cock fighting and abandonment
- Drug crimes, such as drug trafficking and Oxycodone offenses
- Fraud, such as mortgage fraud, insider trading and mail fraud
- Traffic offenses, such as DUI
- Violent crimes, such as domestic violence and battery
West Palm Beach lawyer Andrew Stine focuses exclusively on criminal defense cases and has an exceptional track record of results spanning the last ten years. A former public defender and medic for the U.S. Army, Mr. Stine is known for being proactive. He represents his clients aggressively, armed with individual attention and a passionate respect for their rights to due process.
Contact our law firm to discuss your case in a confidential consultation.