Criminal Records Expungment And Sealing Overview
Trusted Counsel from a Fort Pierce Criminal Defense Attorney
In today’s tough economic times, more and more the difference between being hired or not depends on the result of a criminal records background check. If you or someone you care about has ever been arrested, the criminal arrest record arising from the incident may come to light. Such an arrest record can affect employment, housing, or the ability to obtain state licenses.
Regardless of whether the charges were subsequently dismissed, or the court did not enter a conviction, the mere existence of an arrest or prosecution in a criminal record may still cause problems. However there is hope: if qualified under statutory guidelines (i.e., if the arrest did not result in a conviction and you have no prior criminal conviction record), sealing or expunging your criminal arrest record will allow for such a record to be shielded from public view.
Who qualifies for sealing and expunging records?
If your charges were dismissed, you may qualify for an expungement (a physical obliteration of the record); if you were prosecuted, but the judge withheld adjudication of guilt, you may still be eligible for having the records sealed. Either way, if the judge currently assigned to your case in the county where the incident originated can be persuaded to grant a petition to expunge or seal your criminal record, that criminal charge will no longer be available to the general public. (Please note, however, that some sexual and violent offenses may not be expunged or sealed by law.) If you are successful and the court grants an expungement or sealing of your Florida criminal record, you may lawfully deny or fail to acknowledge the existence of the arrest covered by the expunged or sealed record.
Understanding the Legal Stipulations
However, there are exceptions that require acknowledgment of an arrest even though the record has been expunged or sealed, most notably if seeking employment in law enforcement or becoming a defendant in a later criminal prosecution. Also, you must acknowledge the previous arrest if you are seeking employment, licensure, or a contract with the Department of Children and Family Services, the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, or the Department of Juvenile Justice, or are to be employed or used by such contractor or licensee in a sensitive position having direct contact with children, the developmentally disabled, the aged, or the elderly. Additionally, acknowledgment is required if you are seeking employment or licensure in the field of education, or with child care facilities. Acknowledgment exceptions also exist in certain situations involving the purchase of firearms or employment in or about a Florida seaport.
Looking for help with the sealing or expungment process?
The foregoing list is not exhaustive; please feel *free to ask a Fort Pierce criminal defense lawyer from the firm for further information regarding when a criminal history record must be disclosed. T. Charles Shafer has helped many local citizens expunge and seal their criminal felony or misdemeanor arrest records stemming from being arrested in St. Lucie (Fort Pierce, Port St Lucie), Indian River (Vero Beach, Sebastian), Martin (Stuart, Jensen Beach, Palm City), and Okeechobee counties, Florida.
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