The Difference Between Sealing and Expungement in Florida
Getting your record sealed or expunged is not as easy as you might think. The first key requirement is typically having a valid “Certificate of Eligibility,” or COE. If you don’t have this document which you can get from the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement (FDLE) you can’t pursue the matter any further. This takes the most time and if it isn’t done correctly there will be a considerable delay in pursuing the expungement or sealing of your record.
Before you apply for the COE you have to ask yourself if you have at anytime throughout your life either prior to or following the charge you are attempting to expunge or seal been convicted of any criminal offense. This includes any minor criminal ordinance violation such as a criminal traffic offense, or even a “simple” misdemeanor. If so, under Florida law, you cannot under any circumstances get any charge either expunged or sealed, without exception.
The difference between expunging and sealing
Most people who have been charged with a criminal offense would prefer to get the event expunged because all files related to the charge must be totally destroyed. When a case is sealed, any files relevant to the case are just sealed up with tape. In both cases no member of the public can access your files. If you have an employer sought background check it will not be included. In both cases you can are permitted to deny the arrest and incident ever took place.
To begin with it is typically faster and less complicated to get a charge sealed and the State Attorney doesn’t object so often. If you have never been convicted of any criminal offense and you didn’t get adjudication withheld, there are a lot of charges under Florida law that can be sealed.
It is a different story with expungement, as it applies only to charges that have been dismissed completely either by a prosecutor or by a judge. This can include, in some circumstances, pretrial diversion and deferred prosecutions. If you were not dismissed and you pleaded guilty or no contest, or after a trial you were found guilty, whether you did or did not receive a ‘withhold of adjudication’, then a charge cannot be expunged.
From a practical point of view sealing and expunging have the same effect and that is to keep the charge away from public view.. The expungement does a little bit more as it destroys any records. Since the aim is usually for employment purposes, sealing is often the better route to follow.
Why you need an attorney for sealing or expunging
If your intention is to get a record sealed or expunged the process can be found in Florida Statutes, Section 943.0585 and 943.059. However, these are not easy reading as understanding the process involves reading other statutes and their subsections. Only an experienced Florida Criminal defense attorney like Albert Quirantes Esq. can guide you quickly through the process.
If you are eager to get your charge sealed or expunged on average the process takes anything from 3 to 6 months from start to finish it helps to have an attorney to speed up the process by getting all the facts right at the beginning. Also, sealing or expunging a charge may only be done once, so the preparation needs to be done well in the first place. You can reach the Law Firm of Albert Quirantes at 305-644-1800.
Albert Quirantes: Your Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer & DUI Lawyer
For over 30 years, Miami criminal defense attorney Albert M. Quirantes has been aggressively and zealously defending the rights of those accused of felony and misdemeanor crimesthroughout South Florida. With his dedicated team, reasonable legal fees, and a well-earned reputation for challenging prosecutors at every turn, he has protected over 8,000 clients during some of the roughest times of their lives.
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If you have any questions about this or any other criminal accusation, call Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Albert Quirantes at: (305) 644-1800 or visit our homepage www.CriminalDefendant.com for a direct link to the office or a text message or a map and directions to our office.