Sealing or expunging your criminal record is an important part of moving on from a low point in your life. The acts of sealing and expunging your record limit or prevent public access to your criminal records and allows you to legally avoid disclosing a criminal history. The ability to seal or expunge records came as a response to Florida’s Sunshine Law, which guarantees public access to records pertaining to any government agency in the state. The Sunshine Law basically guarantees access to public information, which helps citizens hold government officials accountable; however, lawmakers soon discovered the law can harm people who made a mistake or were falsely accused.
Depending on your criminal charge, it may be possible to apply for record sealing or expungement, which will make it nearly impossible for anyone to look up your criminal records. Record sealing and expungement accomplish similar results through different means. Speak to a criminal lawyer in West Palm Beach to learn whether you are eligible.
What Does Record Sealing and Expunging Accomplish?
Anyone who wishes their legal troubles regarding a criminal offense would just go away will appreciate the results of a successful record sealing or expungement. While you cannot go back in time and take a different path, sealing or expunging your record will help you get as close as you can to that effect.
Record sealing does not result in a destroyed record. Instead, your record is placed under government protection. The record is not disclosed to the public; it is considered confidential, and is accessible only to the courts and criminal justice system unless an individual obtains a special court order to access it.
Expungement is the most effective of the two options; however, not everyone will be eligible. Expunging a criminal charge involves the destruction of all records pertaining to the charge. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) keeps just one confidential record for extremely limited purposes. After expunging your record, employers and regular people will not have access to it.
Limiting who can view the details of your charges provides you with a fresh start. By sealing or expunging your record, you will no longer need to disclose your charges on an employment application form or during interviews. This alone makes it worth trying with the help of a competent lawyer.
Nonviolent Criminal Charges May be Sealed or Expunged in Florida
Generally, charges may be sealed or expunged if they are not violent or for sexual or federal offenses. It may be possible, for example, to expunge a DUI charge; however, a conviction may not be sealed or expunged in Florida.
Ineligible charges (unless your case was dropped or dismissed) include:
- Aggravated assault
- Aggravated battery
- Acts of domestic violence
- Illegal use of explosives
- Child abuse
- Abuse of an elderly or disabled person
- Luring or enticing a child
- Procuring a minor for prostitution
- Sexual battery
- Providing obscene material to minors
- Child pornography
- Buying and selling of minors
- Traveling to meet a minor to engage in illegal activity
- Drug trafficking
- Act of terrorism
- Home invasion
- Manufacturing drugs
- Any offense which would require you to register as a sexual predator in Florida
Many misdemeanor charges may be eligible for sealing or expungement. Also, if you were criminally charged as a minor, it may be possible to have that struck from your record so you can lead a productive life in adulthood.
Are you Eligible to Seal or Expunge Your Criminal Record in West Palm Beach?
The sooner you seal or expunge your criminal record, the more likely it is you will be able to get a blank slate to rebuild your life. Attorney Brian P. Gabriel has more than 30 years of experience helping clients seeking record sealing and expungement in West Palm Beach. Contact The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel for more information on how to proceed. Call 561-622-5575 or complete our contact form for a free consultation.