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Expunging My Record in Tampa | How to Protect Your Reputation

Criminal records are open to the public in Florida, which means that anyone can review your criminal history. Because this sensitive data could jeopardize your future prospects, you can apply to have a record sealed or expunged. 

Expunging or sealing a criminal history record in Florida entails concealing it to keep it from public view.

The public has no access to a sealed document. However, certain government entities, such as law enforcement agencies, could still use this information, but only to a limited extent.

Information that has been sealed was removed from most databases and may only be accessed with an order from the court.

If you require legal assistance to seal or expunge your criminal history records in Tampa, be sure to contact an Erase the Case criminal defense attorney.

a courthouse

What Does It Mean to "Seal" or "Expunge" a Criminal Record in Tampa?

As mentioned before, because anyone can view your criminal record, which can have a significant impact on potential jobs, housing, and more, the state of Florida gives people two ways to prevent these records from having such negative consequences. These are sealing or expunging them.

While both of these methods can help those with an arrest record keep sensitive information related to their past criminal record away from the public eye, they accomplish this in two very different ways.

Sealing a Criminal Record

When a criminal justice agency seals a record, it is preserved and kept away from the public eye. However, a sealed record can be accessed by a law enforcement agency, but in order to access sealed records, a court order must first be obtained.

You can also rest assured that your sealed record will not appear in a background check. Moreover, the record will be expunged or permanently removed after being sealed for 10 years.

Expunging Criminal Records

When the state attorney's office decides to expunge criminal history records, it drops the criminal charges, permanently destroying or removing them.

Keep in mind that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will keep a copy of the expunged record. This method is a more thorough way of dealing with your arrest records to help you move forward with your life.

What Are the Advantages of Having an Arrest Record Sealed or Expunged?

One of the main reasons people go the extra mile to have their arrest records sealed or expunged is that it increases their chances of being employed or finding suitable housing.

Because your criminal record is accessible to the public, your chances of being hired or being considered for housing decreases. You can put your past behind you and start anew by sealing or expunging records in Florida.

What Criminal Offenses Cannot Be Expunged or Sealed?

  • According to Florida Statutes, the following offenses do not qualify to be sealed or expunged:
  • Battery and assault (including domestic battery)
  • Robbery
  • Child abuse
  • Arson
  • Sexual crimes against minors
  • Terrorism
  • Kidnapping
  • Carjacking and burglary
  • The abuse of an elderly person
  • Drug trafficking

Additionally, if you were found guilty, pled guilty, or did not contest a charge, you may also be denied any requests to seal or expunge a record.

Are You Eligible to Have Your Criminal History Sealed or Expunged?

In order to qualify, you must meet the following criteria:

  • The charges must have been acquitted, dropped, or dismissed
  • Your crime must not fall into one of the categories listed above
  • A record has been sealed for 10 years (it will qualify for expungement)
  • You have not applied to have this record sealed or expunged before
  • There are no ongoing cases on your name
  • You are not under court supervision (for example, house arrest or probation)

The best way to determine whether you are eligible to have your records sealed or expunged is to visit a criminal defense attorney who can offer formal legal counsel.

A Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help!

The truth is that a criminal offense can have a serious effect on your life. If you think you might be eligible to seal or expunge a criminal record, get in touch with a Tampa expungement attorney who can offer formal legal advice.

Sealing or expunging records in Florida isn't easy. It involves applying for a certificate of eligibility, filing a petition for relief, and processing the petition. We can take care of the legal process for you so that you can focus on starting afresh!

To find out more about how you can have a record sealed or expunged or book a consultation, call us today at 1 (866) ERASE-FL!