Having a conviction or an arrest on your record can result in employment problems, trouble finding housing, and a myriad of other problems every time that a background check is performed. Even if you were not convicted, having an arrest or a charge on your record can be an embarrassing blemish on an otherwise fine record. Arrests, charges, and convictions can be removed from your record through expungement.
How to Expunge Your Record in Florida
Determine your eligibility. In order to have your record sealed or expunged you must meet certain requirements. Your case must be closed, you must never have had a record sealed or expunged in the past, you must never have been convicted of a crime, and you must not be on parole or probation. If you meet those requirements, you can complete the application process.
Apply for a Certificate of Eligibility. Obtain the application from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and complete it as accurately as possible. The form asks for your personal information, and information about the charge(s).
Have the application notarized. Visit a notary public and have them notarize your form. They will require that you sign the form in front of them, and then they will notarize it. Most notaries charge a nominal fee.
Complete a fingerprint form. Attached to the application is a fingerprint form, which requires that you provide fingerprints. This must accompany your application.
Obtain a certified copy of the disposition in your case. This can be done by contacting the clerk of court in the county that you were charged in and providing them with information regarding your case.
Mail your application packet. The packet should include your application, your fingerprint form, the certified copy of your disposition, and a $75.00 fee to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The application must be mailed to: Florida Department of Law Enforcement ATTN: Expunge/Seal Section P.O. Box 1489 Tallahassee, Florida 32302-1489
If ordered, appear in court. Sometimes expungements are granted without a court appearance, which means that once you mail your application packet there is nothing left for you to do. However, in some cases the judge will grant a court date, and require your presence in court.
Be sure that you complete everything accurately, as any errors will delay processing. This is important because expungement is a long process, often taking 5-7 months.
- Be sure that you complete everything accurately, as any errors will delay processing. This is important because expungement is a long process, often taking 5-7 months.
K. Lynn Wallace attended the University of the Arts and University of Baltimore Law school and is now an attorney in Maryland. She has a general litigation practice and has been a writer since 2009. She has served on the editorial board of the "University of Baltimore Intellectual Property Journal."