Trying to start your life on the right foot after having a bit of a past can be hard for anyone. If you have a criminal record, chances are good that you have already experienced how difficult this can be when trying to move forward positively. Everyone makes mistakes, but some mistakes can seriously jeapordize your future. If you have a criminal history or arrest record, you may lose job opportunities or have school applications denied. You may even miss out on some housing situations. It is understandable that you would want to move away from this history, forget it ever happened, and keep others from finding out it did. To start off the new year with a clean slate, you may want to look into having your court records sealed or expunged, and we can help you with that.


If you have been arrested, you have a criminal record. Many people do not like the sound of this, but that record exists whether or not you have been convicted of a crime. If this applies to you, now is the time to start considering how future background checks can potentially affect you as you go throughout life’s stages. One option in protecting your future is to get the record sealed. When this happens, your record is no longer accessible by the public. However, it does not completely go away. If, for whatever reason, there is a court order to have the record unsealed, then it will be accessible to only certain people in certain positions, like government agencies. To get a record sealed, you would need to first apply for a certificate of eligibility that lasts for 12 months. Within that time frame, you would then petition the court. Then, a judge will hold a hearing to decide if the record can be sealed. 


Your second option is to have the record expunged. This option is stronger than having the record sealed because it essentially destroys the existence of the record entirely. In order to do this, you would need to apply for a certificate of eligibility and then petition the court. Next, a judge will hold a hearing to decide whether or not to expunge the record.
In the state of Florida, there are several types of expungement:
  • Administrative Expungement
  • Automatic Juvenile Expungement
  • Early Juvenile Expungement
  • Human Trafficking Expungement
  • Juvenile Diversion Expungement
  • Lawful Self-Defense Expungement


Because the nature of getting a criminal record sealed or expunged is ideal, the process itself is not a wide open option for everyone. There are limitations and restrictions to keep in mind, and they can vary depending on what is on your criminal record. For example, Section 943.059, F.S. states, “…if a person has been adjudicated guilty (as an adult) of any criminal offense in any jurisdiction (or adjudicated delinquent, as a juvenile, in Florida for any felony or for certain specified misdemeanors), whether or not related to the charge(s) that the person is applying for, the record is ineligible for sealing and the application will be denied. FDLE conducts state, national, and criminal traffic records checks when processing applications.” In a nutshell, you should keep in mind the following: you can have certain cases expunged as an adult or from when you were a juvenile, you can only seal or expunge one criminal episode, and felony convictions are not included. Additionally, a court appearance is not usually required, but it is something you should consider because it only helps to make a better impression.


While it is not required to have an attorney when trying to get your record cleaned, it is strongly encouraged. There are so many stipulations to consider, and it can easily become discouraging if you do not understand the dynamics involved. Your eligibility to have your criminal record sealed or expunged is based on specific factors, and that is before you even get to the point of your actual court hearing. Additionally, any criminal history that you may have in another state may play into the outcome itself, and that is a completely different aspect to consider. Instead of managing a checklist of considerations to anticipate your own eligibility, contact a trust attorney today to get the help you deserve. The attorneys and staff at Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh PLLC are here to help you. Our team is full of the knowledge and experience you need to get your life back on track. What has been an isolated situation for you is a regular day for us, so give yourself a break and benefit from our experience.