Everybody makes mistakes. Unfortunately, some mistakes turn out to be criminal in nature whether or not others are harmed. As a juvenile, you shouldn’t have your criminal history follow you for life. Fortunately, in Florida, there are ways of having your juvenile record sealed or expunged, which can help you start a fresh life in adulthood.
If the state dropped your case or if the court withheld adjudication of delinquency, it may be possible to expunge or seal your juvenile record. With help from The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel, you can rest assured that you’re provided the best possible chance to accomplish this.
How does Juvenile Record Sealing or Expungement Work in Florida?
In Florida, you can get your record sealed if the court withheld adjudication of delinquency. The state will automatically expunge your record when you turn 24 so long as your case was dismissed or you received a withhold of adjudication. This is known as an “automatic expungement.” However, if you are charged with or convicted of a forcible felony as an adult before you turn 24, your record will merge with your adult record and stay in your criminal history for life.
If serious charges were favorably resolved before turning 18, it is advised that you pursue a court-ordered expungement instead of waiting for the state to expunge your record at 24. This may be the only time it is possible to clear your juvenile record.
What are the Benefits of Sealing or Expunging a Juvenile Record?
Your criminal record is reviewed by nearly anyone who might employ you, decide whether to accept you into a university, or lease a house to you. Certain industries may also conduct more thorough background checks to reduce liability; for example, jobs in healthcare or finance have strict screening and testing requirements dictated by different laws. While some employers might do a simple check, if you apply for a job in these fields, your potential employer might also look at your previous employment and education history, among other records.
Another benefit of record sealing and expungement is that you can legally deny or fail to acknowledge your criminal charges when asked, such as on a job application. Although there is a push to “ban the box” on these forms, many employment applications still require you to reveal whether or not you have a criminal record or conviction. Sadly, this often leads to being pulled out of the pool of candidates being considered for the position you applied to, even if you have already paid your debt to society.
How Do I Get Started on Expunging My Juvenile Record?
Under Statute 943.0582, if you enrolled in a Juvenile Diversion Program and complete the following steps, the department may expunge any non-judicial arrest record:
- Submit an application for pre or post-arrest diversion expunction within 12 months of completing your Juvenile Diversion Program. If you are still a minor, your parent or guardian must sign this application. A lawyer for expungement can help you verify that you have properly completed this application.
- Submit an official written statement from the state attorney that you, the petitioner, completed the program for a non-violent misdemeanor offense and have never faced charges for another crime.
For those who did not enroll in a diversion program, hope is not lost. It may still be possible to seal or expunge your juvenile record if you submit a valid department-issued certification of eligibility, a fee, and a sworn statement indicating:
- You have “never, prior to the date on which the petition is filed, been adjudicated guilty of a criminal offense or comparable ordinance violation, or been adjudicated delinquent for committing any felony or a misdemeanor specified in Statute 943.051.”
- You have “never been adjudicated guilty of or adjudicated delinquent for committing any of the acts stemming from the arrest or alleged criminal activity to which the petition to seal pertains.”
- You have never had your record sealed or expunged.
- You are eligible to have your record sealed or expunged.
An attorney like Brian P. Gabriel will be able to guide you throughout this important process and ensure that your application will have a fair chance at being accepted so you can move past your criminal history. Remember, you only get one chance at expungement in Florida, so make it count with quality legal counsel.
Contact a Record Sealing and Expungement Lawyer in West Palm Beach
The sooner you seal or expunge your juvenile record, the more likely it is you will be able to get a fresh start in life. Attorney Brian Gabriel has more than 30 years of experience helping clients seeking record sealing or expungement. Contact The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel for more information on how to proceed with your record sealing or expungement in West Palm Beach. Call 561-622-5575 or complete a contact form for a free consultation.