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Jack Campbell

State Attorney, 2nd Judicial Circuit

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Sealing and Expunging Criminal Records

A Step by Step Guide to the Process

 

 

Introduction

The content of this page is intended as a general guide to the process of having a criminal record sealed or expunged. Nothing contained herein is intended to be legal advice. While many people are successful in completing this process without assistance, an individual seeking to have his or her record sealed or expunged should consider consulting an attorney to assist in the process. Our legal system is an adversarial process. You may need to seek assistance of counsel to help you in the process. Unfortunately, the State Attorney is not allowed to assist you during the seal and expunge process, except in the manner that is outlined here. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement maintains a website intended to assist in the process and provide information regarding the process. If you have questions about the seal and expunge process, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) has many valuable resources about this process to help you. Information can be found at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Sealing and Expunge website or by calling 850.410.7870. It includes instruction for applying for a Certificate of Eligibility. That website can be found here. 

The Process

Step 1: Getting the Application

Acquire the “Florida Department of Law Enforcement Application for Certification of Eligibility” (Hereinafter referred to as “application”). This application is found on the FDLE website mentioned above. A link directly to the application can be found here.

Step 2: Completing your portion of the Application

Complete “Section A” of the application. The application must be signed under oath in the presence of a notary. Any of the 5 offices of the State Attorney for the 2nd Judicial Circuit will provide notary service to you without charge for this purpose in our office.

Step 3: Delivering the Application to the Office of the State Attorney

Deliver the application to the Office of the State Attorney in the county in which you were charged in. You may deliver it by mail or by bringing it to the office. Electronic copies will not be accepted.

Step 4: Return of the Application from the State Attorney to You

We will complete “Section B” of the application. Depending on workload issues, this could take a few weeks. We will return the application to you by U.S. Mail to the mailing address you listed in Section A of the application.

Step 5: Submitting the application to FDLE

You must send the following items to FDLE at the address below:

  1. Certified Copy of the disposition of the matter you are seeking to have sealed / Expunged.  This form is available at the Clerk of Court.
  2. Your fingerprints. (Your local Sheriff’s Office or FDLE can provide this service.)
  3. The application.
  4. $75.00 money order or cashier’s check payable to FDLE.

Address:

Florida Department of Law Enforcement
Attn: Expunge/Seal Section
P.O. Box 1489
Tallahassee, Fl. 32302-1489

Step 6: Completing a “Petition and Affidavit to Expunge or Seal”

A successful application results in the FDLE sending you a “Certificate of Eligibility”. Once you have received your “Certificate of Eligibility”, you must complete a “Petition and Affidavit to Expunge or Seal” (hereinafter referred to as “Petition”). There are several ways that you can obtain a blank form Petition:

  1. Go to the Leon County Clerk of the Court’s website. The website contains a Petition that is approved for use in Leon County; however, this Petition can be modified to be used in any county. The Petitions can be found here.

 

Felony Expunge

Felony Seal

Misdemeanor & Traffic Expunge

Misdemeanor & Traffic Seal

Step 7: Filing the Petition

After completing the Petition, you must file the original “Petition and Affidavit to Expunge or Seal” and the Certificate of Eligibility with the Clerk of the Court in the County where the matter occurred. Copies of these documents must be sent to:

  1. The State Attorney’s Office in the County where the matter occurred.

Step 8: The Court Process

Once the Office of the State Attorney receives our copy of the documents referenced in Step 7, above, we will file a response to your petition. We may agree or disagree, but typically if you have received a Certificate from FDLE we will approve the request. If we disagree, the Court may have a hearing on the matter. The Clerk of the Court will notify you of the date and time if there is going to be a hearing. If we agree, the Clerk will forward all of the documents to the Court, and generally, the Court will issue an Order Sealing or Expunging the Record within a few weeks and will mail you a copy of this signed Order from the Court.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I have to have an attorney to complete the sealing or expunging process?

A: Many people are successful in completing this process without assistance, an individual seeking to have his or her record sealed or expunged may consider consulting an attorney to assist in the process. Our legal system is an adversarial process. The Office of the State Attorney represents the people of the State of Florida, and may, under certain conditions, oppose your effort to have your record sealed or expunged. You may need to seek assistance of counsel to help you in the process.

Q: Does the Office of the State Attorney provide assistance to individuals seeking to have his or her record sealed or expunged?

A: Except in the manner that is outlined here, the State Attorney is not allowed to assist you during the seal and expunge process. We will complete the forms that we are required to complete for the process to occur. We will provide you certain forms on this webpage, and we will provide you access to a notary without charge for this application only.

Q: How can I get a copy of my Florida criminal history?

A: Under Florida and federal law, an individual has the right to request a copy of his or her criminal history record for purposes of review, to ensure that it is both accurate and complete. This process is known as a Personal Review. The requestor may examine the record obtained through Personal Review for accuracy and to challenge any information contained within the criminal history record that the record subject believes is inaccurate or incomplete. No charge is assessed by FDLE for this service. See s.943.056, Florida Statutes. A Personal Review allows an individual to determine which, if any, date(s) of arrest the applicant will be eligible to have sealed or expunged. However, obtaining a personal review is not a prerequisite to applying for a certificate of eligibility to seal or expunge a criminal history record.

Q: Why do I have a criminal history record when the charges against me were dropped/dismissed?

A: The Florida Legislature has determined that Florida criminal history records are public unless the record is sealed or expunged. See Section 943.053(3), Florida Statutes, which provides for public access to criminal history records. The term "criminal history information" is defined, tracking the federal definition, at Section 943.045(4), Florida Statutes. A criminal history record is created when a person is arrested and fingerprinted, and includes the disposition of that arrest, whether it is a conviction, acquittal, dismissal of charges before trial, or other disposition.

Q: What is the difference between sealing and expunction?

A: “Expunction of a criminal history record” means the court-ordered physical destruction or obliteration of a record or portion of a record by any criminal justice agency having custody thereof, or as prescribed by the court issuing the order, except that criminal history records in the custody of the department must be retained in all cases for purposes of evaluating subsequent requests by the subject of the record for sealing or expunction, or for purposes of recreating the record in the event an order to expunge is vacated by a court of competent jurisdiction. When a record has been expunged, those entities which would have access to a sealed record will be informed that the subject of the record has had a record expunged, but would not have access to the record itself without a court order. All they would receive is a caveat statement indicating that "Criminal Information has been Expunged from this Record". “Sealing of a criminal history record” means the preservation of a record under such circumstances that it is secure and inaccessible to any person not having a legal right of access to the record or the information contained and preserved therein. When a criminal history record is sealed, the public will not have access to it. Certain governmental or related entities, primarily those listed in s. 943.059(4)(a), Florida Statutes, have access to sealed record information in its entirety.

Q: Can any criminal matter be sealed or expunged?

A: No, in order to have a matter sealed or expunged the Florida Department of Law Enforcement must first issue a “Certificate of Eligibility.” The Florida Department of Law Enforcement provides a list of reason that a “Certificate of Eligibility to expunge” or seal a criminal history cannot be issued (“Reasons for Denial”). FDLE’s “Reasons for Denial” can be found here.

 

Q: Are certain criminal charges disqualified from expunction or sealing?

A: Yes, a request for a certificate of eligibility for an expunction or sealing of a criminal history record will be denied by FDLE if the defendant was found guilty or pled guilty or nolo contendere, even if the adjudication of guilt was withheld, on certain criminal violations. Those criminal violations are listed at the bottom of the Reasons for Denial (see above).

Q: Can a juvenile record be sealed or expunged?

A: Yes, If a person wishes to pursue the judicial sealing or expunction of his or her juvenile record, the eligibility criteria and procedure, which are similar to those for adults, are found in s. 943.059 and s. 943.0585, Florida Statutes.

Q: How many dates of arrest can I have sealed or expunged?

A: The eligibility criteria for an applicant to have a record sealed or expunged include the requirement that the applicant be able to attest that he or she has never previously had a record sealed or expunged in Florida or in another jurisdiction. This means, in effect, that a person may only seal or expunge one arrest record in one proceeding. More than one record may be sealed or expunged in the same proceeding if the court, in its sole discretion, finds the arrests to be directly related. A record that is initially ineligible for expunction (e.g., where adjudication is withheld) may become eligible after it has been sealed for 10 years. However, a person may not seal or expunge one arrest record and then, later and in a different proceeding, ask to have a different arrest record sealed or expunged. An expunction or sealing which occurs automatically or by operation of law, without any action on the part of the record subject, is not considered a prior expunction or sealing for this purpose. By law, s. 943.0582(8), Florida Statutes, a juvenile diversion expunge does not prevent the record subject from seeking a judicial expunction or sealing under s. 943.0585 or s. 943.059, Florida Statutes.

Q: Where can I find the Florida Statute on sealing a criminal record?

A: The Florida Statute regarding “Court-ordered sealing of criminal history records” can be found here.

 

Q: Where can I find the Florida Statute on expunging a criminal record?

A: The Florida Statute regarding “Court-ordered expunction of criminal history records” can be found here.

 

Q: If I have a criminal history record sealed or expunged in another state or jurisdiction, am I still eligible to have a criminal history record sealed or expunged within the State of Florida?

A: Yes - Effective July 1, 2013, a previous seal or expunction of a criminal record in a jurisdiction outside the state of Florida will not disqualify an applicant to seal or expunge a Florida criminal history record.

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The Florida Statute regarding “Court-ordered sealing of criminal history records” can be found here.


The Florida Statute regarding “Court-ordered expunction of criminal history records” can be found
here.

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Last Update 03.27.17

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