The process of expungement offers individuals with a criminal record the hope of a fresh start, free from the burdens of past mistakes. To expunge a criminal offense is to remove it from your record. If someone conducts a background check on you, the expunged offense will no longer show. This is beneficial when it comes to getting a job, applying for housing, and more.
However, the question of whether violent crimes can be expunged in Florida is a complex and contentious one. Not all crimes are eligible for expungement in Florida. While Florida law does provide opportunities for certain criminal records to be sealed or expunged, the eligibility criteria and limitations differ significantly for violent offenses compared to non-violent offenses. In this blog, we delve into the intricacies of expungement in Florida and explore the possibilities for individuals with violent crime convictions.
Understanding Expungement and Sealing in FL
Expungement and sealing are legal processes that enable individuals to limit public access to their criminal records. Expungement goes a step further by physically destroying the records, while sealing restricts access to those records, making them visible only under specific circumstances. In Florida, these processes can provide a chance for a fresh start and improved employment prospects.
Eligibility for Expungement in Florida
In Florida, there are certain criteria you must meet to be eligible for expungement.
- You cannot have been convicted, or adjudicated guilty, of the offense
- You cannot have any additional pending sealing or expungement requests with the court
- You cannot expunge an offense listed in Section 943.0585 F.S.
An example of an offense that would be eligible for expungement is a DUI that never resulted in a conviction.
Violent Crimes Ineligible for Florida Expungement
Florida law is generally restrictive when it comes to expunging records of violent crimes. Eligibility for expungement depends on the severity of the offense and the individual’s criminal history.
Florida law explicitly states that the following violent offenses are always ineligible for expungement:
- Burglary of a dwelling
- Child abuse
- Sexual battery
- Any offense that requires sex offender registration
- Assault & Battery
If you are convicted of any of these felony offenses, the incident will remain on your record forever. If you are facing charges for a violent crime, it’s crucial that you contact a defense attorney as soon as possible.
Limited Opportunities for Sealing
For some individuals convicted of less severe violent crimes, sealing may be an option. However, the eligibility criteria are stringent and involve meeting specific waiting periods after the completion of the sentence, probation, or parole. It’s important to note that sealing a record does not remove it completely but restricts its accessibility.
The Importance of Case Details
The circumstances surrounding a violent crime conviction can play a crucial role in determining whether expungement or sealing is a possibility. The court will consider factors such as the nature of the offense, any prior criminal history, the individual’s behavior since the conviction, and the impact of the conviction on the person’s life.
Juvenile Offenders and Expungement in Florida
Juvenile offenders who committed violent crimes also face unique considerations. In Florida, some juvenile records can be sealed or expunged, but it largely depends on the severity of the offense and the individual’s age at the time of the crime.
Legal Consultation is Key
Given the complexities of Florida’s expungement and sealing laws, consulting with a qualified attorney is crucial for anyone seeking to clear their record. Legal professionals with experience in criminal law can provide personalized guidance based on the specifics of each case.
The Best Way To Keep Your Criminal Record Clear
While expungement and sealing can offer a chance at a clean slate for those with criminal records, the options available for individuals with violent crime convictions in Florida are limited and often stringent. Florida’s legal system places a strong emphasis on public safety and considers the severity of the crime when determining eligibility for these processes. If you or someone you know is seeking to expunge or seal a violent crime conviction in Florida, seeking legal advice is the first step towards understanding the possibilities and limitations in your specific situation.
The best way to keep your record clear and avoid a conviction is to work with Hager & Schwartz, P.A.. Our Miami attorneys have saved thousands of clients from having a conviction on their record, and all of the consequences that come with it. Our attorneys can also help guide you through the record sealing or expungement process.
Contact us today to get started on your defense.