SARASOTA SEAL AND EXPUNGE ATTORNEYS

Choose The Attorneys Who Know Florida Expungement Law

Soler & Simon is a Sarasota, Florida law firm that has helped many people in Sarasota County and Manatee County with the expungement and sealing of their criminal records.  Please review our site and be sure to let us know if you have any questions. 

 

We offer a free consultation and our lawyers will gladly speak with you in person or over the phone to determine whether your case is eligible to be expunged or sealed and if so, discuss how we can help you seal or expunge your charges.

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THE EXPUNGEMENT OF A CRIMINAL RECORD

The attorneys of Soler & Simon have tremendous experience in criminal defense law and with expunging records and expunging criminal charges. We are familiar with how expungement works in Sarasota and Bradenton and have established relationships with employees at the local Clerk of Court who can help the expunge process to go as smoothly as possible.  Please let us know if you have any additional questions that were not answered on this page.

Expunging A Criminal Case In Florida

Some topics of interest regarding Expungement

You Can Deny It Ever Happened!

Florida law says that if you have a Florida criminal record expunged you can completely deny that it even happened.  You can even deny that you were ever arrested!

The Steps Need To Be Done Accurately

Expunging a record is not necessarily difficult, however there are many stages to an expungement.  Each stage needs to be done correctly or the application can be rejected by the FDLE. 

Expunging A Record Is A Long Process

The FDLE can take 5-7 months (sometimes even longer) to process the expungement application and return a certificate of eligibility to the applicant.

Determine Whether You Are Eligible

An expungement lawyer can usually tell you whether your case qualifies for expungement.  Sometimes it is an excellent idea to order a "Personal Review Of Criminal History" from the FDLE if you are unsure about your criminal history.

How Do I Order My Criminal History From The FDLE?

Send a completed FDLE Fingerprint Form and a letter requesting a "Personal Review Of Criminal History" to:

FDLE

ATTN: Expunge/Seal Section

P.O Box1489

Tallahassee, Florida  32302

What Is The Difference Between Sealing And Expunging?

Unlike an expungement, when a record is sealed it is not destroyed.  However, sealing does render the criminal charge inaccessible and hidden from public view.  Law Enforcement and state agencies will still be able to access it though.  

What is an expungement?

 

Expungement in Florida is the process by which a criminal record is destroyed and/or rendered confidential and hidden from public view.  When a record is expunged in Florida, all Florida criminal justice agencies (like local courts, the clerk of courts, local police departments, etc.) destroy the record and it is unable to be viewed. The only caveat to this is that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement still has the record, but it is confidential. 

 

The effect of an expungement on local criminal justice agencies

If one has a record expunged in Sarasota and Manatee Counties, and there was to be a search for the record with the local Clerk of Court, the Clerk of Court will no longer display a court case and there would be no indication that a case ever existed.  Likewise, if a company or employer were to do a local search for criminal records with the Sarasota or Manatee Clerk, they would not find the expunged case. 

 

However, if a Florida governmental agency were to search the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) records, the FDLE would likely inform the agency that a record was in fact expunged, however the record would not be viewable. It would typically require a court order for the government agency to be able to view the record.

If you have a record expunged in Florida you can deny you were ever even arrested!

One of the best aspects about expungement in Florida is that Florida law allows a person to "lawfully deny or fail to acknowledge the arrest covered by the expunged record." (There are some exceptions: for instance, if you apply to be a Florida police officer or work with various Florida agencies that deal with children or the elderly, you will have to disclose the arrest. So be sure to consult with an attorney if you are unsure whether this applies to you).  The vast majority of people who have had a record expunged in Florida can completely deny not only that there ever was a case, but they can also deny that they were ever even arrested.

How long does it take to expunge a record in Sarasota and Bradenton?

There are many steps to having a criminal case expunged.  An expungement involves dealing with the State Attorney's Office, the Clerk of Court, the FDLE, and the judge.  On average, it takes approximately 4-8 months total to expunge a case.  This is not because of our local offices, they handle things relatively quickly.  Most of the wait is due to the time it takes the FDLE to prepare the Certificate of Eligibility to Expunge the record. 

Is my charge eligible to be expunged?

The answer to this question can be complicated and there are several exceptions that do not render this question able to be completely and adequately addressed in a small FAQ section.  It is important to contact an expungement attorney to adequately determine whether your case can or cannot be expunged rather than trying to figure it out yourself.

Generally, a case can be expunged in Florida when:

  • A person has never been adjudicated guilty of any criminal offense in any state.

  • There may have been an arrest but no charging document was ever filed (the prosecutor never went forward with charges).

  • The case was dismissed or nolle prosequi (AKA dropped) by the state attorney, or was dismissed by the judge, there was a judgment of acquittal by the judge (as a result of a trial motion), or a verdict of not guilty was rendered by a judge or jury.

  • In addition, Florida Statute 943.0584 lists many criminal charges that cannot be expunged (it is too lengthy to list them all here), some common disqualifying offenses: various charges involving sexual misconduct, sex crimes involving children, domestic battery, stalking, human trafficking, kidnapping, arson, burglary of a dwelling, robbery, car jacking, home invasion robbery, abuse of the elderly or children, and drug trafficking.

  • The person has never sealed or expunged before.

How to expunge a case in Sarasota or Bradenton, FL

The first thing to do is fill out Section A of the FDLE Application for Expungement, sign it and have it notarized; send the application to the applicable State Attorney, wait for the State Attorney to complete Section B and return it to you; have your fingerprints taken by a police officer at a police station on an FDLE fingerprint form; obtain a certified copy of the disposition of your case from the Clerk of Court, prepare a money order or cashier's check in the amount of $75.00, made payable to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE); and send all the above to the Florida Department of law Enforcement.  Wait approximately 5-7 months.  The FDLE will determine then whether the charge is eligible or not, in their opinion, to be expunged.  After you receive a Certificate of Eligibility from the FDLE (assuming the charge is eligible), you then prepare a Petition to Expunge, Affidavit in Support of Petition to Expunge, and Order to Expunge and bring them, along with the certificate of Eligibility you received form the FDLE, to the Clerk of Court.  The Clerk of Court (depending on the jurisdiction where you live) will usually present the documents to the Judge.  The Judge will then review them and, if they meet with the court's approval, the order will be signed.  You will then receive a call from the Clerk of Court asking for a final payment before the case is officially expunged.

 

Do I need to seal or do I need to expunge?

 

As stated above, the expungement of a record renders the record destroyed and deleted among all criminal justice agencies (the clerk of court, police departments, court system, etc.  The FDLE does still keep a copy of the record but it is rendered confidential and inaccessible absent a court order.

 

The sealing of a record essentially hides it from public view, but it is still accessible to law enforcement and state agencies.  One would always prefer to expunge a case.  However, if expungement is not possible (because, for instance, the case was not dropped and instead adjudication was withheld) one would then attempt to have the case sealed.

What is a Lawful Self-Defense Expungement? 

If you were charged with a crime and the case was later dropped, or not filed on, because you acted in self-defense, you may be able to get the record of the case and arrest expunged.

Can my case be expunged if I was the victim of human trafficking?

If you were the victim of human trafficking and as a direct result of being a trafficking victim, were charged with a crime, you may be eligible to have the case expunged, even if you were found guilty of the charge.  If you were a victim of human trafficking and would like to learn more about expunging a record, see our page here.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

THE SEALING OF A CRIMINAL RECORD

The attorneys of Soler & Simon have tremendous experience in criminal defense law and with sealing records and sealing criminal charges. We are familiar with how sealing works in Sarasota and Bradenton and have established relationships with employees at the local Clerk of Court who can help the sealing process to go as smoothly as possible.  Please let us know if you have any additional questions that were not answered on this page.

Sealing A Criminal Case In Florida

Some topics of interest regarding sealing a criminal record

You Can Deny It Ever Happened!

Just like with an expunged record,  Florida law says  you can completely deny that the criminal case even happened.  You can even deny that you were ever arrested!

The Steps Need To Be Done Accurately

Sealing a record is not necessarily difficult, however there are many stages to sealing.  Each stage needs to be done correctly or the application can be rejected by the FDLE. 

Sealing A Record Is A Long Process

The FDLE can take 5-7 months (sometimes even longer) to process the application to seal and return a certificate of eligibility to the applicant.

Determine Whether You Are Eligible

A sealing and expungement lawyer can usually tell you whether your case qualifies for sealing.  Sometimes it is an excellent idea to order a "Personal Review Of Criminal History" from the FDLE if you are unsure about your criminal history.

How Do I Order My Criminal History From The FDLE?

Send a completed FDLE Fingerprint Form and a letter requesting a "Personal Review Of Criminal History" to:

FDLE

ATTN: Expunge/Seal Section

P.O Box1489

Tallahassee, Florida  32302

What Is The Difference Between Sealing And Expunging?

Unlike an expungement, when a record is sealed it is not destroyed.  However, sealing does render the criminal charge inaccessible and hidden from public view.  Law Enforcement and state agencies will still be able to access it though.  

What is the sealing of a criminal record and how is it different than an expungement?

 

The expungement of a criminal record renders the record destroyed and deleted among all criminal justice agencies (the clerk of court, police departments, court system, etc.).  The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) does still keep a copy of the record but it is confidential and inaccessible absent a court order.

 

The sealing of a record essentially hides it from public view and public records in Florida, but it is still accessible to law enforcement and state agencies.  One would always prefer to expunge a case.  However, if expungement is not possible (because the case was not dropped and the adjudication was withheld, for instance) one would then attempt to have the case sealed. A case must be sealed for at least 10 years before it becomes eligible to be expunged.

 

The effect of a sealed record on local criminal justice agencies

If one has a record sealed in Sarasota and Manatee Counties, and there was to be a search for the record with the local Clerk of Court, the Clerk of Court will not display a court case and there would be no indication that a case ever existed.  Likewise, if a company or employer were to do a local search for criminal records with the Sarasota or Manatee Clerk, they would not find the sealed case.  This is because the sealed case is essentially hidden from public view and is no longer a public record.

One way a sealing differs from an expungement has to do with who has access to the records.  With an expungement, basically nobody has access (absent a court order).  With a sealed record, the record is no longer accessible to the public, but it is accessible to the following individuals/entities:

  • The Defendant

  • The Defendant's attorney

  • Criminal justice agencies (police and law enforcement)

  • Judges

  • Various Florida State Agencies may be able to access sealed records to make licensing and employment decisions (Applying for a job with DCF or as a teacher, applying for licensing as a healthcare professional, applying for a concealed carry permit, etc.)

If you have a record sealed in Florida you can deny you were ever even arrested!

Just like with an expungement, Florida law allows a person who's had a record sealed to "lawfully deny or fail to acknowledge the arrest covered by the sealed record." (There are some exceptions: for instance, if you apply to be a Florida police officer or work with various Florida agencies that deal with children or the elderly, you will have to disclose the arrest. Be sure to consult with an attorney if you are unsure whether this applies to you).  The vast majority of people who have had a record sealed in Florida can completely deny not only that there ever was a case, but they can also deny that they were ever even arrested.

How long does it take to seal a record in Sarasota and Bradenton?

There are many steps to having a criminal case sealed.  A sealing involves dealing with the the Clerk of Court, the FDLE, and the judge.  On average, it takes approximately 4-8 months total to seal a case.  This is not because of our local offices, they handle things relatively quickly.  Most of the wait is due to the time it takes the FDLE to prepare the Certificate of Eligibility to Seal the record. 

Is my case eligible to be sealed?

The answer to this question can be complicated and there are several exceptions that do not render this question able to be completely and adequately addressed in a small FAQ section.  It is important to contact an attorney who handles sealing and expungement to adequately determine whether your case can or cannot be sealed rather than trying to figure it out yourself.

Generally, a case can be sealed in Florida when:

  • A person has never been adjudicated guilty of any criminal offense in any state.

  • The person received a Withhold of Adjudication (AKA Adjudication Withheld) on the offense to be sealed (they were NOT adjudicated guilty).

  • The person is no longer on probation or any other form of court ordered supervision (such as a pretrial diversion program or drug court program)

  • In addition, Florida Statute 943.0584 lists many criminal charges that cannot be expunged or sealed (it is too lengthy to list them all here), some common disqualifying offenses: various charges involving sexual misconduct, sex crimes involving children, domestic battery, stalking, human trafficking, kidnapping, arson, burglary of a dwelling, robbery, car jacking, home invasion robbery, abuse of the elderly or children, and drug trafficking.

  • The person has never sealed or expunged before

How to seal a case in Sarasota or Bradenton, FL

The first thing to do is fill out Section A of the FDLE Application to Seal, sign it and have it notarized; have your fingerprints taken by a police officer at a police station on an FDLE fingerprint form; obtain a certified copy of the disposition of your case from the Clerk of Court, prepare a money order or cashier's check in the amount of $75.00, made payable to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE); and send all the above to the Florida Department of law Enforcement.  Wait approximately 5-7 months.  The FDLE will determine then whether the charge is eligible or not, in their opinion, to be sealed.  After you receive a Certificate of Eligibility from the FDLE (assuming the charge is eligible), you then prepare a Petition to Seal, Affidavit in Support of Petition to Seal, and Order to Seal and bring them, along with the Certificate of Eligibility you received form the FDLE, to the Clerk of Court.  The Clerk of Court (depending on the jurisdiction where you live) will then usually present the documents to the Judge.  The Judge will then review them and, if they meet with the court's approval, the order will be signed.  You will then receive a call from the Clerk of Court asking for a final payment before the case is officially sealed.

 

Do I need to seal or or do I need to expunge?

 

As stated above, the expungement of a record renders the record destroyed and deleted among all criminal justice agencies (the clerk of court, police departments, court system, etc.  The FDLE does still keep a copy of the record but it is render confidential and inaccessible absent a court order.

 

The sealing of a record essentially hides it from public view, but it is still accessible to law enforcement and state agencies.  One would always prefer to expunge a case.  However, if expungement is not possible (because, for instance, the case was not dropped but adjudication was withheld) one should then attempt to have the case sealed.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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SOLER & SIMON

2170 Main St. STE 103

Sarasota FL 34237
 

Sarasota - Bradenton

St. Pete - Tampa

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The information on this website is for information only and is not to be used as legal advice. The viewing of the information is not intended to create, and does not constitute, an attorney client relationship.  © 2020 Soler & Simon.  All rights reserved.