Can I Seal or Expunge My Arrest Record?
When we're trying to figure out if you can have a case sealed or expunged we're really going to delve into two separate questions.
The first question, we've got to know if you have any prior convictions on your record (we're only concerned about Florida convictions, out of state convictions don't count against you). And, those convictions can even creep up from a juvenile record, it doesn't have to be adult.
If you have a Florida conviction in your past, you cannot seal or expunge your current record, whatever it is you want to seal or expunge. You can push stop on this video and go to something else.
But, your prior criminal history doesn't have to be squeaky clean. This doesn't have to be a first offense that you want to seal or expunge. What it has to be is a situation where you have never been found guilty of a crime (in Florida, you can have convictions from other states and that's ok!).
What I mean is that, a lot of people have been arrested for various charges and they've either had those cases dropped or they received withholds of adjudication. A withhold of adjudication is a fancy way of saying "I entered a plea, but was never convicted of the crime--they withheld adjudication." If that's the case, you qualify. Great, and you can move on to question number 2.
What about the case now, that you want to seal or expunge? What happened to the case that you want to seal or expunge? So, I've got some options for you. If what happened was that the charge was dismissed--great news--we can expunge that record because it was dropped.
If you pled to the charge and if the judge withheld adjudication when you pled to that, then you probably qualify to have the case sealed because you received a "withhold". You were never convicted of it.
So, lets say you entered a plea and received a withhold on a shoplifting petit theft, or shoplifting grand theft. That withhold saves the day and we can erase that charge.
But, that very same withhold on a misdemeanor domestic violence case, for example, that will not help us out. Yes, you were not convicted of that battery domestic violence, but no, you cannot seal it. That charge, and many other charges, are exempt from sealing even though you were not convicted of it (but, of course, you can expunge a battery domestic violence if the case was dropped, you just cannot seal a withhold on a battery DV). This is not fair, but it is the law.
There are lots of nuances on these cases. I've given you a general overview of the two major questions we're going to want to ask you and there are more questions. But, armed with this knowledge, hopefully, you can move forward to seal or expunge your case. I recommend that you do, it is well worth doing. I wish you luck.