Practically, there is no difference between sealing your record and expunging your record. In Florida, if you are arrested, charged with a crime or issued a notice to appear for a criminal violation then your case file will become public record. That means your arrest will appear in criminal background checks, records requests and even Google searches until your record is either sealed or expunged. Once your case is sealed or expunged, your arrest and any reports arising out of that specific arrest that you had sealed or expunged will no longer be visible to the public. In addition, once your record is sealed or expunged, you will be able to answer “no” when asked whether you have ever been arrested on employment and housing applications (in some rare situations, like when you apply for admission to the Florida Bar or employment with the Department of Children and Families, you will still have to report your arrest).
That being said, it is better to have your case expunged. When your case is expunged the arresting agency, the State Attorney’s Office and anyone else who has a copy of your file is required to destroy your file. In fact, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will be the only agency allowed (and required) by law to retain the only copy of your fie, and the public cannot access the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s file. On the other hand, when your case is sealed, your case file still exists, but the file is not public.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to fit the criteria for eligibility to expunge your record in Florida. To qualify to have your case expunged, your case had to have been dismissed by the Court, or dropped by the State Attorney’s Office, and you can’t have any prior convictions. You can also have your case expunged if you were found not guilty at trial or if your case has been sealed for more than 10 years. That being said, generally, to qualify to have your record sealed then you need to have had adjudication withheld in your case and you can’t have any prior convictions, but keep in mind that there are a number of charges that can’t be sealed by law.
If you have been arrested in the past and you want to seal or expunge your record then you should contact a lawyer to go over your case. It can be difficult to understand what the disposition of your case was, or whether or not adjudication was withheld in your case, but an experienced attorney can help you understand whether or not you are eligible to seal or expunge your case and what steps you should take going forward. If you were arrested for a crime, then you may be eligible to seal or expunge your record. Regardless of the situation, you need an experienced attorney to obtain your court file to determine your eligibility. There are many benefits to hiring an attorney and getting your record sealed or expunged, and it’s important for you to choose the right attorney. Matthew Williams and the Law Office of Matthew Williams focus primarily on criminal defense matters in North Florida, and he’s been helping people seal and expunge their records his entire career. Attorney Williams treats his clients like family because he knows what they are dealing with is always more than just a case, and he refuses to let law enforcement, state attorneys, or the criminal justice system stand in the way of working towards a better future for his clients. He obtains the best results for his clients and he’ll do the same for you. Give the Law Office of Matthew Williams a call now.