People often ask about record expungement. In Florida, record expungement is defined as court-ordered physical destruction of a record by any criminal justice agency or other public entity in possession of such information. In order to obtain an expungement, the State must not have filed an indictment, information, or other charging document in the case. If one was issued, it was dismissed by the State. There are also disqualifying offenses that can prevent an expungement.
If one does not qualify for an expungement, there is the option of record sealing. Sealing is defined as the court-ordered maintenance of a record where it is secure and inaccessible to any person not having a legal right of access to the information contained within it. In order to obtain a sealing, one must not have been adjudicated guilty or delinquent, never have secured a prior sealing or expunction, or have committed a disqualifying offense, and not be under court supervision.
Basically, whether one expunges or seals their record, it allows a person to remove access to their criminal history. There is only a limited record remaining with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which is required by statute, but it is free from public disclosure.
One thing to keep is mind is that there are entities that are still entitled to your sealed/expunged information. By statute one is required to truthfully disclose the sealed history under certain situations. These include:
1. When one is a candidate for employment with a criminal justice agency;
2. When one is a defendant in a criminal prosecution;
3. When one is a candidate for admission to the Florida Bar;
4. When one is seeking employment or licensure or contract with the Department of Children and Family Services, The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation within the Department of Education, the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Department of Health, the Department of Elderly Affairs, or the Department of Juvenile Justice or to be employed or used by such contractor or licensee in a sensitive position having direct contact with children, the disabled, or the elderly;
5. When one is seeking to be employed or licensed by the Department of Education, any district school board, any university laboratory school, any charter school, any private or parochial school, or any local government entity that licenses child care facilities;
6. When one is attempting to purchase a firearm from a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer and is the subject to a criminal history background check under state or federal law;
7. When one is seeking to be licensed by the Division of Insurance Agent and Agency Services within the Department of Financial Services;
8. When one is seeking to be appointed as guardian pursuant to Section 744.31125; or
9. When one is seeking to be licensed by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to carry a concealed weapon or concealed firearm.