If you’ve been considering whether or not to hire an attorney to have prior criminal record either sealed or expunged, you may want to start the process on your own first in order to get things moving while you decide.
The Decision to hire a criminal defense lawyer to handle your record sealing or expunction case is personal decision that is often based on the availability of funds and complexity of the specific matter. Each criminal justice issue is unique with some posing more challenges than others. When it comes to criminal record work, the first step is relatively easy and straightforward. William R. Moore, an attorney located in Fort Lauderdale Florida suggests that individuals seeking this remedy start the easy process on their own first and then decide whether or not an attorney would be necessary to finalize the process.
Individuals plagued by the negative effect of a criminal history report are unsure and possibly even intimidated by the process, which inadvertently leads to delay. By starting the first part of the sealing and expunction process on their own these uncertainties become alleviated when applicants actually receive what is known as a “certificate of eligibility.”
Certificates of Eligibility in Record Sealing/Expunge Cases
A certificate of eligibility is required before the second phase of the process may be started. It is this next phase that a lawyer’s services may be required in that it involves the filing of pleadings in criminal court. Once a client has a certificate of eligibility however, a criminal defense attorney experienced in this process can all but ensure success for the client upon filing an appropriate motion.
Download: Application for Certification of Eligibility.
The first part of the application is easy and requires information readily available to the individual seeking relief such as their name, Social Security number and basic information about the case they are seeking to have removed. This section must be notarized. Applicants may want to obtain a certified copy of the case disposition prior to filling out this form. Certified Criminal Dispositions are readily available in the courthouse having jurisdiction over the matter. This is the courthouse where the case was originally handled. For example if your arrest originally took place in Broward County, you could obtain a certified copy of that cases disposition on the first floor of the Broward County Main Courthouse which is located at 201 SE. 6th St. in Fort Lauderdale Florida. The clerk’s office in this courthouse is located on the first floor for both misdemeanor and felony criminal case records. The certified copy should cost no more than five dollars. The clerk’s office for this particular court accepts cash.
A check for $75 must be made payable to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and included with the application form. It is advisable to use a certified check.
Applicants will also have to be fingerprinted at a local police station by using the fingerprint page that is included in the application package, which may be obtained by clicking the link above. Be sure to contact the law enforcement agency before heading out to get your fingerprints as this service is usually only provided on certain days and at certain times. Some police departments require an appointment to be made before hand.
A list of fingerprint locations in Broward County is included in the application packet downloaded from the site. You may also call our criminal law firm to obtain locations and operating hours for fingerprinting services.
Extra step for those seeking Expunction of Criminal Records
Record expunction is only permissible in cases where a dismissal of the charges by the assigned prosecutor took place. Please of no contest and or not guilty verdicts in criminal cases may give rise to record sealing but only the full dismissal of criminal charges will permit record expunction.
For individuals seeking expunction, a signature by the state attorney’s office that originally prosecuted the case will be required. To obtain a signature, the applicant must mail a completed application for certificate of eligibility form to the prosecutor’s office along with a certified copy of that cases disposition. This is the same form that has been discussed thus far.
A form letter to the assistant state attorney has been provided with the packet that may be downloaded on this page.
Beginning the record seal expunge process will give those seeking relief great peace of mind in knowing that the process has begun. Furthermore, once a certificate of eligibility is received, but applicant is all but guaranteed that the process works and that their record will be either sealed or expunged upon filing an appropriate motion in the court having jurisdiction over the original criminal matter. This may be the only phase that an applicant may wish to employ the services of a local criminal defense attorney. By applying for a certificate first, much of the work has already been completed and should result in a lawyer’s agreeing to complete the process for a reduced amount.
Remember, you may always reach attorney William R Moore either by phone or email at his Fort Lauderdale office and ask questions about the application process discussed above. There is no fee to ask questions about your criminal matter.