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How Can I Expunge My Record?

We’ve often heard the question: How can I expunge my record? The short answer is that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement works with the courts to process expungement petitions. The long answer is that Florida allows expungement in only a limited set of circumstances. For many offenders, the Florida law simply does not allow expungement.

Here are some things you should know about expunging your record in Florida.

What Is Expungement?

The Florida legislature authorizes the expungement of some law enforcement records and court records. After a court expunges these records, the courts and Florida Department of Law Enforcement will destroy them. As a result, a background check will not include the expunged arrests.

Records Eligible for Expungement

Florida authorizes the expungement of records relating to charges that were the subject of a dismissal, or a verdict of “not guilty.” You can also expunge records relating to charges that a prosecutor declined to prosecute.

For example, suppose that the police arrested you for a DUI and the local prosecutor charged you, but the court dismissed the case.

This case would have generated an arrest record, charging documents, and court records of the dismissal. If you successfully petition for expungement, the court and the police would destroy their records.

Records Ineligible for Expungement

Florida does not expunge records of charges in which you were found guilty or pled guilty. Thus, unlike other states in which you can expunge records of old convictions so that they do not show up on criminal background checks, this is not possible for Florida convictions.

Florida also limits the types of charges it will expunge. Records of many violent crimes and sex crimes are ineligible for expungement, even if they were dismissed or you were acquitted.

People Ineligible for Expungement

Florida imposes requirements that make some people ineligible to petition for expungement, even if the records qualify for expungement. To petition for the expungement of a record, you must not have criminal convictions in your history, even if they are unrelated to the record you want to expunge.

Suppose that you want to expunge a DUI arrest from 2020 that resulted in a dismissal. Florida’s statute makes you ineligible if you pled guilty to shoplifting in 1998.

You cannot have received any prior expungement, either. If you successfully expunge a prior arrest record, you cannot expunge a different arrest record later.

Expungement in Florida

You can draw two conclusions from Florida’s expungement laws. First, you need to fight hard against criminal charges because Florida only expunges records of acquittals and dismissals.

Second, if you have an arrest record eligible for expungement, you should carefully consider whether to petition for expungement. Florida only gives you one expungement, and you do not want to waste it.

Contact the team at Shrader Law to discuss your criminal records and whether expungement is appropriate.

Posted in Criminal Defense