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To promote open government, Florida enacted the Sunshine Law in 1995 – a series of laws that guarantee public access to all non-sensitive records. While the law can be useful for citizens wanting to get information on state or local government or obtaining necessary information, it can be a hurdle for those who made a legal misstep or were wrongly accused of a crime.
A criminal record can impede an individual’s access to employment, education, housing, civic engagement, and public assistance. To resolve this issue, Florida enacted laws allowing for the sealing and expunging of criminal history records to prevent widespread public access to criminal records and give individuals the option of non-disclosure.
The process to seal or expunge one’s record in Florida typically takes 9 – 12 months and may require a court hearing after receiving a certificate of eligibility from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Expunging and sealing are very similar in purpose – to prevent the public from gaining access to other people’s criminal records. However, there are some notable differences:
Some criminal charges are not eligible for sealing and expungement in Florida. A case can only be expunged if it was dismissed, there was no related indictment, information, or charging document, or it has been sealed for 10 years. Individuals seeking a “sealing” of their record must have had their adjudication withheld and have completed all probation or community control requirements (including court supervision) before becoming eligible.
Several types of sealing or expungement processes are available in Florida, such as:
Don’t let a prior Florida arrest or criminal conviction hold you back. Vero Beach Attorney Susan Chesnutt has the legal expertise necessary to protect your rights by getting your criminal record sealed or expunged. For help navigating this complicated process, contact our firm online or call (772) 492-3330 today.