A conviction for any criminal offense can involve challenging statutory consequences and a permanent criminal record. Criminal convictions can limit a person’s ability to find employment, attain child custody, immigrate, and regain their driving privileges, among other challenges that may negatively affect their life. The anxiety and complications surrounding a criminal record are only heightened if you’re under the age of 18. Fortunately, the State of Florida allows certain convicted offenders—including minors—to purge their record through what’s called the expungement process.
Expungement is a court-ordered procedure in which the legal record of an arrest or a criminal conviction is erased or sealed in the eyes of the law. In most cases, no history of an expunged arrest or conviction will show up if a potential employer, educational institution, or other company conducts a public records inspection or background search. However, if you’re a minor, you may question if your record can be expunged in the same way that those above the age of 18 can. Here’s what you need to know.
Will Your Record Be Automatically Sealed If You’re a Minor?
If you’re a former juvenile offender, you may wonder if the State of Florida will automatically seal or expunge your record after a period of time. The short answer is yes, but only under certain circumstances. Current Florida law states that the criminal history of a minor will automatically be expunged when they reach the age of 21, or, if the minor was committed to a juvenile correctional facility or juvenile prison, age 26, given that certain conditions are satisfied.
One condition that would prevent a minor from having their record automatically expunged at age 21 or 26 would be if they were convicted of a forcible felony above the age of 18 and their criminal history as a minor hadn’t been destroyed yet. In this case, their record as a minor must be merged with their adult criminal history and be retained as a part of their adult record. Likewise, if a minor is adjudicated as an adult for a forcible felony, their criminal history prior to their adjudication as an adult must be merged with their record as an adjudicated adult.
Crimes that are classified as forcible felonies in the State of Florida include the following:
- Sexual battery
- Home-invasion robbery
- Aggravated assault
- Aggravated battery
- Aggravated stalking
- Aircraft piracy
- Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb
- Any other felony that involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual
If you’re a former juvenile offender who was convicted of a forcible felony and tried as an adult or if you were above the age of 18 but your record wasn’t yet sealed, it’s crucial that you get in touch with an experienced West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer who may be able to help you avoid these consequences and ultimately expunge your juvenile criminal record.
Can You Expunge Your Juvenile Record Early in Florida?
If you’d like to have your juvenile record wiped clean before you reach the age of 21, you may be able to do so if you meet certain qualifications. To be eligible, you must be between the ages of 18 and 21 and not have been convicted of any criminal offense within the five years before the application date, including the one that you’re seeking to expunge. If you meet these qualifications, you can apply through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in West Palm Beach
If you’re a former juvenile offender convicted of a forcible felony and tried as an adult, convicted of a forcible felony above the age of 18 but your record wasn’t yet sealed, or if you’re seeking early expungement, consider getting in touch with Brian Gabriel, a experienced criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel. After meeting with you one-on-one to discuss your path to expungement and any potential roadblocks along the way, a member of Brian Gabriel’s legal team may be able to help determine the most effective strategy to execute based on the circumstances of your case.
Attorney Brian Gabriel has served the community of West Palm Beach for more than 30 years as a criminal defense attorney. He understands the complexities that are involved in these cases and can help protect your reputation and future. You can be assured that you’re in good hands and that attorney Brian Gabriel will fight for your rights. Call (561) 622-5575 or complete our contact form for a free consultation.