In Florida, expungement of criminal records is possible under limited circumstances. Expungement means removal. A defendant who has successfully had his record expungement will have criminal information removed from his or her record. A search of publicly available criminal records or a background check will no longer show the record of charges after expungement occurs.
Expungement is different from sealing criminal records, which is another alternative if you do not want others to have access to criminal record. When records are sealed, the information about past involvement with the criminal justice system remains on the defendant’s record but access to the information is limited. With expungement, the record of the alleged criminal act is removed.
The rules for when a person may successfully pursue expungement are very strict. Florida Statute 943.0585 explains when a defendant may have a record expunged. It is not possible to have a record expunged if you have been adjudicated guilty of the criminal offense you are trying to have removed from your record. You are also not permitted to have your record expunged repeatedly. When petitioning for expungement, you must attest that you have not had records expunged previously either in Florida or in another state.
The process of having criminal information expunged from a record is complicated, but important as a history of charges will remain on your record if you do not act. You should consult with a Florida criminal defense lawyer to determine if expungement is possible for you and to seek assistance going through the process of having a record expunged.