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Can I Clean Up My Criminal Record?

Not surprisingly, many people wonder whether it is possible to clean up a criminal record in Florida after being arrested, tried, or found guilty of a criminal offense. As anyone who has been in this situation knows, a criminal record has a negative impact on various areas of a person's life including employment, housing, obtaining financing, and more. In some cases, a criminal record may be sealed or expunged, however this is not true in every case. Is it possible to clean up your criminal record, and if so, how?

It may be possible to have certain criminal records sealed

What does this mean? When you have a criminal record sealed, which essentially means that you do not have to disclose your criminal record to a potential employer - it is as if you have no criminal record. Your arrest record is invisible when employers perform a background check. This is also true of school enrollment applications, etc. However, it is important to note a criminal record may only be sealed in Florida if you were arrested but not convicted (found guilty) of a crime, or indicted or charged.

If criminal charges filed against you were dismissed, you may also be able to have your criminal record sealed. If arrested for certain criminal offenses including robbery, domestic violence, kidnapping, sexual misconduct, or human trafficking, it is not possible to have your record sealed. This is also the case if you have been convicted of a crime in the past.

What is the difference between having a criminal record sealed and expunged?

Basically, when a record is sealed the physical record held by the arresting agency, sheriff's office, or Office of the State Attorney does not have to be destroyed. With an expungement (also referred to as “expunction”), physical records are destroyed, along with computer or digital records. DNA or fingerprint data is not destroyed. When your criminal record is expunged, it is virtually "wiped out" which means those searching for criminal information in your background online will not find it on websites such as Spokeo or Intelius, which often buy digital criminal records.

For those who have been arrested for a crime eligible for sealing, the record can be expunged or literally removed from existence after a 10-year time period. There are exceptions; for instance, the dismissal of criminal charges prior to trial due to lack of information or a wrongful or illegal arrest may be expunged right away, without the 10-year waiting period.

Ultimately having a criminal record sealed or expunged is extremely beneficial for those who are eligible, as you can deny being arrested for a crime, and your record is no longer public for everyone who is interested to see. Are you eligible and if so, how do you go about cleaning up your criminal record? An experienced Orlando criminal defense attorney can answer your questions and provide the legal guidance you need if in fact you do qualify for sealing or expungement.

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