Blank Slate: Sealing Your Arrest Record in Jacksonville
One incident need not haunt you for the rest of your life. The state of Florida allows that, through a long process, certain criminal records can be expunged (removed from your record) or sealed (placed under highly restricted access). If you find yourself in a situation where you need to seal or expunge your record, it is imperative you hire a criminal defense lawyer to help you go through the process correctly and in a timely manner.
Why is expunging and sealing important?
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), the Florida Legislature has determined that Florida criminal history records are public unless the record is sealed or expunged.A criminal history record is created when a person is arrested, fingerprinted, and the details of that arrest, whether it is a conviction, acquittal, dismissal of charges before trial, or other nature are made public record.
That means that even if the charges against you were dropped or dismissed, you still have a criminal history record in the State of Florida, and that your record is open to the public. According to the FDLE, neither a full pardon nor any other type of clemency automatically expunges or seals a criminal record.
Your criminal record in Duval County can be accessed by loved ones, friends, strangers, and potential employers—just through a simple online search. It can affect your ability to pursue your career and the things that you enjoy in life.
An order must be issued by the court to seal or expunge your criminal record, and a certified copy of the order must be sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in order for the record to be sealed or expunged.
What is the difference between sealing and expunging?
According to the Clerk of the Circuit and County Courts of Duval County, a sealed record still exists but may only be opened for inspection by a court order. In some special situations, sealed records may also be examined by prospective employers, but this can only happen if a judge orders it.
On the other hand, an expunged record means that your record will be completely destroyed. The files and references to the files are destroyed.
How can you pursue sealing or expunging your record?
The process begins, as many do in the legal system, by filing the appropriate paperwork with the appropriate entities. The sealing or expungementof a criminal record involves navigating several state bodies to obtain records and can be very burdensome.
Time is valuable and it pays to have a criminal defense attorney who is experienced in this area to help you navigate and complete this process in a timely and correct manner. Contact me, James Davis, by phone at (904) 358-0420, and my experience and knowledge can help you achieve the best possible result.