Seal and Expungement Attorney in Tampa, Florida
Have you been denied employment or have you been fired from a job because of a prior arrest? Or have you been denied an application for housing (rental of an apartment) because of your criminal record? If you have, you may want to see if you are eligible to clear that blemish on your criminal record.
Clear Your Criminal Record?
There are two options available to “clear” your criminal record. One option is to seal your record and the other option is to expunge your criminal record.
What is the Difference between an Expunged vs a Sealed Record?
Expunge Your Criminal Record
Expunging your record means that your criminal record will be destroyed by most agencies and only the FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) will keep a copy of the expunged record. An employer or landlord will not have access to your criminal record after the request to expunge has been granted. You are eligible to have your criminal record expunged if you meet the following requirements:
• No prior criminal charges or arrests
• Have never had any charge sealed or expunged
• The underlying charges are not on the list of disqualifying offenses
• You did not enter a plea to the charges but the charges were dismissed or you were found not guilty after trial.
Seal Your Record
If your record is sealed, an employer or landlord requesting a copy of your criminal record will not be able to see the charge. However, the record will just be sealed from public view but not actually destroyed. You are eligible to have your record sealed if you meet the following requirements:
• No prior criminal charges or arrests
• Have never had any charge sealed or expunged
• The underlying charges are eligible to be sealed (not a disqualifying offense)
• You entered a plea to the charges but were not convicted of any crime
Is there an Obligation to Disclose a Sealed or Expunged Record?
If your criminal record has been officially sealed or expunged, you are generally under no obligation to disclose the prior arrest or the charges. However, you should be aware that some agencies will still have access to your criminal record even if it has been sealed or expunged. Some of those agencies include for example law enforcement and the Florida Bar that governs the admission of lawyers. If you are unsure about whether or not an agency may have access to your record or have questions about the process, call us at 813-401-0130.
What Cannot be Sealed or Expunged?
If you have been arrested for or charged previously with a crime, you unfortunately do not qualify to have your record cleared. If you have been adjudicated for this case, you also do not qualify to have your record sealed or expunged. But in some cases, you cannot clear your record even if this is your first arrest and the case was dropped or you were found not guilty because the charge is on the list of disqualifying offenses.
Offenses that Cannot be Sealed
Some offenses are eligible to be expunged but not sealed. Here is the list of offenses that will disqualify you from having your record sealed:
• Assault on a law enforcement officer, firefighter or other official.
• Carrying a concealed weapon
• Openly carrying a weapon
• Unlawful possession or discharge of a weapon at a school sponsored event or on school property
• Unlawful use of a destructive device
• Exposure of Sexual Organs
• Petit theft
• Child neglect
• Animal cruelty
Offenses that Cannot be Expunged
Other charges are ineligible to either be sealed or expunged. Here is a list of charges that make you ineligible for both a seal or expungement:
• Sexual misconduct
• Illegal use of explosives
• Manslaughter or homicide
• Assault or battery, including domestic violence
• Aggravated assault
• Felony battery, domestic battery by strangulation, or aggravated battery
• Stalking or aggravated stalking
• Luring or enticing a child
• Human trafficking
• Kidnapping or false imprisonment
• Sexual battery
• Procuring a person less than 18 years of age for prostitution
• Lewd or lascivious offenses committed upon or in the presence of persons less than 16 years of age
• Burglary of a dwelling
• Voyeurism or video voyeurism
• Robbery or robbery by sudden snatching
• Home-invasion robbery
• A violation of the Florida Communications Fraud Act
• Abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult, or aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult
• Lewd or lascivious offenses committed upon or in the presence of an elderly person or disabled person
• Child abuse or aggravated child abuse
• Sexual performance by a child
• Any offense defined in chapter 839 by public officers and employees;
• Certain acts in connection with obscenity
• Computer pornography and traveling to meet a minor
• Selling or buying of minors
• Aircraft piracy
• Manufacturing a controlled substance
• Drug trafficking
• Any violation specified as a predicate offense for registration as a sexual predator or sexual offender without regard to whether that offense alone is sufficient to require such registration.
Expunge/Seal Your Juvenile Record
Under certain circumstances juvenile records are automatically expunged or sealed. If records are automatically expunged without any kind of request or petition, the juvenile will still be eligible to petition for an adult seal or expungement.
However there are certain circumstances under which the juvenile record will not be destroyed when the juvenile turns 24. These exceptions are:
The juvenile is charged with a forcible felony after he or she turns 17 but before he or she turns 24. In this case the juvenile record will be merged with the adult record.
• If the juvenile is at any time convicted of a forcible felony as an adult, the juvenile record will also be merged with the adult record.
• If the juvenile is adjudicated delinquent of any offense, the juvenile record will be maintained.
• The juvenile record will be retained until the juvenile turns 26 if:
He or she is a habitual juvenile offender
Serious juvenile offender
Committed to a juvenile correction facility or
Committed to a juvenile prison for 5 years after his or her 21st birthday
Can you Expunge/Clear Your Driving Record?
In Florida you cannot expunge prior speeding tickets or other civil citations from your driving record. You may be able to expunge or seal a criminal charge by petitioning the court under certain circumstances. The best way to keep points off your driving record and in turn avoid a possible license suspension for points or avoid higher insurance costs is to either hire an attorney to represent you on your ticket or take the driving school. However, there are restrictions in Florida on how many times you can take driving school to keep points off your record.
There is a possibility to overturn a conviction for the civil infraction ticket for driving while license suspended in Florida. If your license is suspended for 5 years because of prior driving while license suspended tickets, contact Kerstin Wade at 813-401-0130 to see if we can help you undo this suspension.
Do You Need A Lawyer to Seal or Expunge Your Criminal Record in Hillsborough County?
Many people ask if you need an attorney to seal or expunge your criminal record. Generally there is no requirement that you are represented by an attorney to seal or expunge your record. However, the seal or expunge process can be pretty lengthy and involve many steps and complicated legal issues. It is extremely important that all necessary documents are completed correctly and that all documents are enclosed to get the petition to seal or expunge granted. An attorney can help you make sure that you have all necessary documents and are in the best position possible to have your request to seal or expunge granted. Kerstin Wade represents client in the greater Tampa Bay Area in their efforts to clear their criminal records.
How Much Does it Costs To Seal / Expunge Your Record?
Kerstin Wade charges one low flat fee of $750 to handle the entire process from beginning to end to seal or expunge any record. If you just want help with one part of the process, such as obtaining the certificate of eligibility from FDLE, we can help you for just $300 and if you just want us to handle a potential court hearing, Kerstin Wade can do that for just $500.
3rd Party Fees / Costs
In addition to the legal fee there are some 3rd party expenses that are part of every process to seal or expunge your record. The clerk’s office will charge a fee to obtain certified copies of your court records. This fee is different for every county. The clerk’s office also charges a separate fee to process the final petition and order to seal or expunge. This fee is typically $42 but some counties may charge more for filing and certification. Finally there is a fee to obtain the certificate of eligibility from FDLE. This fee has been $75. Please note that FDLE and the clerk’s offices update their fees from time to time and that the exact fees may change in the future. You would be responsible for paying these 3rd party fees in addition to the legal fees.
If you hire Kerstin Wade for your seal or expunction, you get individualized consultations along the way. Contact Kerstin Wade today at 813-401-0130 to see whether or not you qualify to seal or expunge your record.