TAMPA EXPUNGEMENT LAWYER
Florida Attorney for Expungement & Record Sealing
When you apply for your dream job or home, a background check will be performed. Background checks are run so landlords, employers, etc., can see if you have a criminal record to help determine if you qualify for a job or a home.
If you made a mistake in your past which led to a criminal charge, it would remain on your criminal record, even if you weren’t convicted. Your arrest, regardless of conviction, stays on your criminal record until you take the proper steps to have it removed. If you’re tired of your criminal record keeping you from certain opportunities, call Tampa expungement attorney Andrew Buda today. At Buda Law, we understand that mistakes happen, and you shouldn’t have to live with your past forever.
What’s the Difference Between Record Sealing and Expungement?
You can remove a criminal conviction from your record in Florida in two ways. You can move to have your criminal record sealed, or you can have it expunged. While both avenues can keep the public from viewing your record, one is more thorough than the other.
If you choose to seal your criminal record, it’s no longer a public record. This means it will not show up on background checks performed by landlords or private employers. So, although your Florida criminal record remains once it is sealed, the public cannot view it. However, certain government agencies are still able to view your sealed record under certain circumstances. This includes:
- The Florida Department of Agriculture (if you apply for a concealed carry)
- The Florida Department of Education (if you apply for a job at a school)
- The Florida Bar (if you apply for admission)
- The Department of Insurance (if you apply for an insurance license)
- Any Florida law enforcement agency (if you’re accused of a new crime or apply for a job with the agency)
On the other hand, an expunged record is much more thorough and consists of the court ordering the destruction of your criminal record. This removes it from state directories and most government databases. When you expunge your record, the prosecution either agrees to drop the charges or it has been ten years since you’ve had a sealed record. Expungements are extremely rare, but they can happen. The only agency that will have a copy of your criminal record is the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). Certain government agencies or the public can only see an expunged record if they file a court order. However, if you apply for a job with any Florida government agency, they will see that you have an expunged record, so there is a possibility that they could ask you about that during the application process for a job or license.
If you’re looking to expunge or seal your criminal history, you need an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney like Andrew Buda to help you along the way.
Can I Seal or Expunge My Criminal Record?
There are certain qualifications that must be met in order to be eligible to file for criminal record sealing or expungement. Listed below are some of those requirements:
- The charges must have been dropped, acquitted, or dismissed.
- You were not found guilty for your crime.
- The offense committed does not fall under the list of ineligible crimes listed in Florida Statute 943.0585(5).
- You haven’t applied for a record sealing or expungement in the past.
- According to Florida law, individuals are only eligible to have one record sealed or expunged.
- There is an exception to Florida Statute 943.059, which states only one criminal record can be sealed or expunged. If you are able to convince the courts that the multiple charges are related, you could be eligible to have them sealed or expunged.
- You currently do not have any open criminal cases and/or are not currently undergoing any type of court supervision, like probation or house arrest.
If you’re looking to have criminal offenses in your criminal history sealed or expunged, you need an experienced Tampa criminal defense lawyer representing you. Attorney Andrew Buda has been representing Florida residents for years against criminal charges. As a former prosecutor, he will use his knowledge and legal maneuver to seal or expunge your criminal history records.
Who is Eligible for Record Sealing?
The eligibility requirements for record sealing are outlined in Florida Statute 943.059. This statute states that as long as you have not been adjudicated guilty of any criminal offense before the record you’re trying to seal, you could be eligible for criminal record sealing. Adjudicated guilty is a term used in the legal system that means you received a conviction for the crime you were accused of. Even if you were convicted of a criminal traffic offense, it would prevent you from having new records sealed.
Who is Eligible for Expungement?
In order to have your Florida record expunged, it must meet the guidelines listed in Florida Statute 943.0585. You can have your record expunged under two circumstances:
- Your criminal record has been sealed for ten years, or
- The prosecuting attorney agrees to drop the charges.
If you don’t meet the requirements to have your arrest record expunged, you could still meet the criteria to have the record sealed. Even if you think it’s a long shot to apply to have your criminal record sealed, you should discuss your options with a Tampa expungement attorney. At Buda Law, we’ll evaluate your criminal history to determine if you can qualify for a sealed or expunged record.
Benefits of Having Your Criminal History Expunged
If you meet the qualifications to have your criminal record sealed or expunged, it can open the door to many possibilities that you would have been kept from due to your criminal history. An expunged or sealed record can benefit you in a number of ways, including the following:
- Apply for jobs: Part of the employment application process is running a background check. Once your record has been sealed or expunged, you can confidently say “no” under the application portion that asks if you’ve been convicted of a crime and know that your background check will reflect that.
- Housing opportunities: Criminal history records can prevent you from living in your ideal home or apartment. Like employers, landlords also run background checks on their applicants. With a sealed or expunged record, you can have faith that your application will not reflect your previous criminal charge.
- Loan applications: A criminal record can make it almost impossible to get a loan. Many agencies are under the impression that a person with a criminal history will not pay back their loan or do so in a timely manner. This can also result in your loan having a high-interest rate if it’s even approved.
Removing a criminal offense from your record can be a liberating experience. A sealed or expunged criminal history can help you turn your dreams into a reality. Whether it’s a job you’ve always wanted or the home you plan to raise your family in, you can significantly benefit from this option. Don’t let the overwhelming legal process deter you from trying to seal or expunge your record. If you’re curious whether you are eligible for a seal or expungement, contact the Hillsborough County criminal defense attorney Andrew Buda.
Exceptions for Sealed or Expunged Records
There are certain situations where a sealed or expunged record won’t benefit you. If you can successfully seal or expunge your record, some circumstances will require you to acknowledge a previous arrest, even if it’s been sealed or expunged. Those scenarios are listed below:
- Applying for employment at law enforcement agencies
- Any profession with the Department of Children and Family Services, Department of Education, Department of Juvenile Justice, private schools, charter schools, universities, district school boards, or any local government agency that has a licensed childcare facility
- Any job position that involves direct contact with mental individuals, elderly people, or children
- Any employment that includes access to a seaport
- If you’re accepted to the Florida Bar with an expunged or sealed record, you may have a more strenuous process than those without records
- Your record could still be available on private or federal databases
Crimes Ineligible for Expungement in Florida
Not all criminal offenses are eligible for expungement. Florida Statute 943.0584 outlines what criminal charges do not qualify to be sealed or expunged from your criminal record. Keep in mind, however, that if you were not convicted of any of the below criminal offenses and were only charged or arrested, you could still be eligible to have your criminal history record expunged.
Listed below are some of the offenses that are not eligible for sealing or expungement:
- Abuse of an elderly person
- Aggravated assault
- Aggravated battery
- Aircraft piracy
- Child abuse
- Domestic violence offenses resulting in injuries
- Drug trafficking
- Home burglary
- Illegal use of explosives
- Lewd or lascivious offenses committed involving children or the elderly.
- Public officer or employee offenses
- Robbery and home invasion
- Sexual battery
- Sexual misconduct involving a mentally ill person
- Violations of the Communications Fraud Act (Florida Statute 817.034)
There are also other circumstances that could make you ineligible for an expungement, such as:
- You’re serving probation or you’ve violated your probation
- Your withheld conviction was changed to an adjudication, meaning you weren’t previously convicted of the criminal offense, but a judge overturned that ruling and found you guilty. You can’t be expunged if you were convicted of your crime.
- Any previous record sealing or expungement, even if it’s in a different state
- You currently have a pending criminal record undergoing the sealing or expungement process
- You are currently in the middle of a criminal case
- You owe community service hours
- You owe court-ordered financial obligations
How to Seal and Expunge Criminal Records in Florida
The expungement process can be challenging to navigate and leaves no room for error. That’s why it is highly recommended to hire an experienced Tampa expungement attorney to help you through this process. Not only will criminal defense lawyer Andrew Buda assist with your application process, but he will also ensure that everything has been completed so that nothing will prevent your application from being approved. If you’re looking to seal or expunge your Florida criminal history record, you’ll need to follow the steps below:
- Certificate of Eligibility Application: If you meet the eligibility requirements, you will need to submit this application to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). Along with your application, you will also need to submit a fingerprint card, a certified disposition, and more.
- Petition for Relief: Your Certificate of Eligibility does not seal or expunge your record alone. Once you receive your certificate, you will need to present it to the courts along with a notarized affidavit and the form for Petition to Seal or Petition to Expunge.
- Process of Petition: After you’ve completed all necessary paperwork, the Clerk of Court will process the petition. If the judge grants the petition, you will be required to pay several fees.
After the steps above have been completed, the Clerk of Court will send certified documentation to the appropriate government agencies so that their records reflect the seal or expungement.
Do I Need a Criminal Defense Attorney To Have My Record Sealed or Expunged?
Even if you meet the qualifications for a seal or expungement, it’s not always guaranteed that the application will be accepted. There could be extenuating circumstances that you’re unaware of, like unpaid court-ordered financial obligations or unfinished community service hours, that could prevent your application from being granted. Hiring a Hillsborough County criminal defense lawyer can help you avoid any surprises during your record sealing or expungement application process.
When you hire Andrew Buda for legal services surrounding your record sealing or expungement process, you can rest assured that no box will be left unchecked. Our goal is for you to be able to leave your past in the past and move on with your life.
Call Andrew Buda of Buda Law for An Experienced Tampa Expungement Lawyer Today
Andrew Buda understands the complexities surrounding sealing or expunging your criminal history and how it impacts the rest of your life. Your arrest record is public record and can prevent you from pursuing job opportunities, loan applications, and more. If you believe your criminal records could be eligible for sealing or expungement, schedule a free consultation with Tampa criminal defense lawyer Andrew Buda today.
In addition to helping those seeking record sealing or expungement, Andrew Buda also represents residents in Hillsborough County and Pinellas County in criminal cases involving DUI charges, felonies, misdemeanors, and more. To discuss your legal options with a leading Tampa criminal defense attorney at Buda Law, call (813) 322-2832 today.