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The Florida Bar

Seal vs Expunge

When it comes to the requirements for eligibility for either sealing or expunction under Florida law, issues such as crime type, manner of resolution and manner of prosecution come into play.

Provided the crime for which you are arrested is not an enumerated offense and otherwise prohibited from record work, a prosecutor’s voluntary dismissal of the case is required to have an arrest expunged. Case is resolved by way of a plea are not eligible for expunction under Florida law, however may be sealed provided certain criteria are met.

Criminal Record Seal vs Expunge in Florida

The difference between having a record sealed or expunged comes down to who has access to your original criminal file, how much information is contained therein and whether it will be accessible to law enforcement. Defendants seeking to either have the record sealed or expunged must petition the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for what is referred to as a certificate of eligibility. Persons seeking to have the record expunged are required to obtain a signing off by the prosecutor’s office in the jurisdiction for which you are arrested.

Once a certificate of eligibility is obtained by the Florida Department of law enforcement, an appropriate motion and hearing must be set before the judge or division originally assigned to your case. It is at this hearing that an assistant state attorney may object to any final order being granted in this regard. For example, a prosecutor may object where a defendant seeks to have an arrest restricted from public view despite having been subsequently arrested following their obtaining of a certificate of eligibility from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Ask About Our Criminal Record Sealing Workshop

If an offense is granted sealing or expunction, an individual may lawfully state that they have never been arrested for the original offense. This includes circumstances whereby an accused testifies to their criminal history under oath. Certain circumstances exist however, that require disclosure despite record work being granted. Once relief has been granted by way of a court order, it is a misdemeanor for any person or agency to disclose information about an arrest that has been sealed or expunged under Florida law.

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