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Criminal Defense

Expungement and Sealing of Criminal Records

CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY - CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER

If you have been arrested for a crime, your criminal record can continue to negatively impact your life long after the offense occurred.  Employment and educational opportunities, among other things, may be limited based upon what is visible on your criminal record.  Florida law provides an opportunity to remove this mark from your criminal record in certain circumstances, effectively giving you a fresh start, through the process of sealing and expungement.  In most cases, you can have charge sealed or expunged.  If your criminal record was ordered sealed or expunged, you may lawfully deny the existence of the record, except in certain circumstances.  However, there are certain criminal offenses that can never be sealed or expunged.
 
The primary difference between sealing criminal records and expungement of criminal records is accessibility.  After an individual’s criminal record is sealed, the charge will no longer be a public record.  The public will not have access to it when your criminal history is checked, but some government agencies will have access to your complete criminal record.  When a criminal charge is expunged, the record of it is physically destroyed.  One copy is retained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement but is not accessible absent a court order.  Neither the public nor government agencies that had access to a sealed record will be able to view the offense that was expunged.  The government entities which would have had access to a sealed record will only see a statement indicating that the individual has had criminal information expunged from the record. 

To be eligible to have a criminal record sealed or expunged, you must meet certain requirements.  The charge you wish to have expunged must not be one of several offenses that can never be sealed or expunged.  Additionally, you must not have any prior convictions, and you must not have had a record sealed or expunged in the past.  You may be eligible to have a criminal record sealed if you received a withhold of adjudication on the charge, rather than a conviction.  Before filing to have a criminal record sealed, you must have completed all parts of your sentence.  To qualify for expungement, a criminal charge must have either been dropped by the State Attorney’s Office or dismissed by the judge, or you were found not guilty of the charge.

The criminal defense attorneys at Rice Law Firm understand the serious challenges and hardships that a criminal record can create for our clients and how beneficial sealing and expungement can be.  Determining whether a criminal charge can be sealed or expunged can be a complex and lengthy process which is dependent on a number of factors.  Our attorneys can review your case with you to determine your eligibility and assist you with the many steps and complicated filing procedure.

Please contact us through our web mail contact form, or through our main office number, 386.257.1222.  We understand that you may need our assistance after-hours or on the weekends, and in such situations, we can be reached at our after-hours number of 386.255.2464.


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