The process of expunging charges in Florida raises a lot of questions for individuals seeking to clear their criminal records. With a clear record, opportunities for employment, housing and education become more accessible. It is a step toward a new beginning and a second chance at life.
However, it can be challenging to work through an expungement. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about getting charges expunged in Florida.
What does expungement mean?
Expungement refers to the process of legally erasing a criminal record or a specific charge from a person’s record. It means removing the charge from public view, making it as though the crime never occurred. It is important to note that in Florida, expungement does not erase the record entirely but seals it from public view.
Who is eligible for expungement?
Eligibility for expungement in Florida depends on several factors. These include the type of crime, the outcome of the case and whether the person has any prior convictions. Individuals who received a not-guilty verdict, had charges dropped or dismissed or completed a pre-trial diversion program may be eligible for expungement.
Are there some charges you cannot expunge?
Florida law maintains that you cannot expunge certain crimes. These include, but are not limited to, violent crimes such as murder and kidnapping. Other crimes like arson, aggravated assault and certain child abuse charges are also typically not eligible for expungement.
How long does the expungement process take?
The length of the expungement process varies, but it usually takes several months. The process involves obtaining a certificate of eligibility from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and filing a petition in court.
Does expungement erase the record completely?
While an expungement seals a record from public view, certain agencies such as law enforcement and the court can still access these records in specific situations. For example, if the person commits another crime, these agencies may access the records.
Although it is a complex process with specific eligibility requirements, expunging charges in Florida can provide a fresh start for individuals with a criminal record.