Criminal Records Information Guide
A criminal record (rap sheet) is a document listing person’s history with law enforcement and legal system. Criminal record information can vary depending on a person’s age. Juvenile criminal records are usually sealed, meaning that they can only be accessed in special situations. It is also possible for adults to seal all or part of their records by request. In other cases, however, a criminal record is public information and anyone can access it by filing a records request and usually paying a small fee to compensate clerks for pulling the record and providing a copy.
Depending on a state, an applicant may not have to reveal any or some type of potentially damaging information ash as arrests not resulting in conviction or convictions of minor matters. Your criminal defense attorney can help you determine if you are eligible to get a conviction sealed or expunged.
Criminal records are public records and therefore accessible to public. The procedure for obtaining a criminal record varies depending upon the jurisdiction which holds the record, and the purpose for which you require the record. For example, if you are trying to obtain a criminal background check of yourself, for purposes of applying for a job, security clearance, or professional license, you will probably have to have your fingerprints taken by a local police agency, then submit original copies of your fingerprints to the state, provincial, or national police force where you reside along with a fee. The police agency will then check your personal information and fingerprints against known criminals, and will report back to the potential employer or licensing agency with either the expression that you don’t have a criminal record, or a recitation of your public criminal history. In the United States, depending upon the purpose of the record check, you may need to separately request records checks from both the state police and FBI.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE)
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), Division of Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS), is the central repository for criminal history information for the state of Florida. In addition to maintaining criminal history information, FDLE provides public access to this information when requested.
In order to maintain the highest level of service, and to better meet the needs of criminal history record check customers, Florida’s Legislature has implemented criminal history record check fees. The fee for public requests is $24. Please visit FDLE for details and other information.
Expunging a Criminal Record
When a criminal record is “expunged”, in most senses the record is treated as if it does not exist. There are limits to expungement – for example, some states maintain separate registries for people who have been convicted of child abuse or sex offenses, and the expungement of a criminal record may not affect those registries. Also, for some subsequent purposes such as applying for a job which requires a government security clearance, the odds are very high that the employer will discover the full criminal history so it may be best to admit having an expunged conviction when applying for such a job.
People seek expungement for a variety of reasons, such as clearing personal history, to reinstate voter rights and or get eligibility for desired employment. As a general rule, chances for successfully obtaining an expungement go up with the demonstration of need, and with evidence of complete rehabilitation.
Expungement is not the only option available to people who wish to clear their criminal records. Most jurisdictions have systems whereby people can apply for pardons. While an expungement is typically issued by the court in which a person was convicted of a crime, a pardon is an executive action which can partially or fully lift the effects of the conviction. Another option is to seal a criminal record, although this usually occurs only with juvenile records (and sometimes even then only if they stay out of trouble during their first few years of adulthood).
Sealing or Expunging Criminal Records in Florida
In order to begin the process of having a record expunged or sealed, the individual must first submit an application to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to determine his or her eligibility. If the FDLE determines that the individual is eligible, he or she will receive a certificate of eligibility.
After the individual receives a certificate of eligibility, he or she must file a petition to the court requesting to have their record sealed or expunged. The petition must include:
¨ The certificate of eligibility
¨ A sworn statement, attesting that the offender has never been adjudicated guilty of any offense listed under Fla. Stat. § 943.051(3)(b)
¨ A sworn statement saying the offender has not had his or her criminal record previously sealed or expunged
¨ A sworn statement that states the offender is eligible to have his or her record expunged
Once the petition has been filed, it is up to the court to determine whether or not the offender’s criminal record will be sealed or expunged.
Determining Eligibility for Sealing or Expunging Criminal Records
An individual is eligible to have his or her record sealed or expunged provided that:
¨ The individual is not currently participating in a court ordered diversion program, or under supervision
¨ The offender has not been previously convicted of more than one misdemeanor or felony
¨ The individual has not had his or her criminal record previously expunged
¨ They have not been previously declared delinquent or adjudicated delinquent of certain juvenile offenses
West Palm Beach Sealing or Expunging Criminal Records Attorney
If an individual pleads or is found guilty of a crime, the conviction will be placed on his or her criminal record. Having a criminal record can place severe limitations on an individual’s ability to receive certain employment or educational opportunities. In order to avoid having limitations placed on your future, it would be beneficial to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Andrew D. Stine assists individuals in Palm Beach County who are attempting to have their criminal record sealed or expunged. Attorney Stine has knowledge of the sealing and expunging process and he will use his knowledge and experience to help you have your record sealed or expunged.
Contact Andrew D. Stine, P.A. at 561-832-1170 and set up a free consultation to discuss how you can have your record sealed or expunged in Florida.