What Is the Difference Between Expungement and Sealing?

Dwlaw | February 9, 2023

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Expungement and sealing are two strategies for keeping records out of the public eye. Expungement is the process of erasing a record so that it appears as if it never happened. Sealing indicates that it is concealed from most of the public eye; however, it is still visible to select employers and agencies.


Arrests, court orders, and specific probations can all be expunged from your criminal record.

Convictions can't be expunged. When you're found guilty and sentenced to the following, you have been convicted:

  • Regular probation - except for 710, 1,410, TASC, or other 'qualified' probations
  • Fines for ordinance violations
  • Prison or jail time
  • Considered served time
  • Qualified probations or supervisions that aren't successfully completed
  • Conditional discharge

If your request for an expunged record is granted, the following occurs:

  • Your arrest record is removed from the official files of the arresting authority, the FBI, and the State Police Department.
  • Your name is removed from the public record by the circuit clerk, and nobody can see it.
  • Even though the criminal record has been expunged, the law enforcement agencies and the Department of Corrections still have access to it for criminal offenses needing a five-year waiting period (TASC probation, 710-1410 probation, and supervision for criminal sexual assault or domestic battery).
  • The person's criminal record is no longer shown on any background checks.
lawyer preparing for an expungement


A sealed record is one that is not accessible to the general public.

Employers who are legally compelled to conduct background checks can still view sealed felony convictions. These employers almost always need you to be fingerprinted. Employers who fall within this category include:

  • Fire departments
  • Organizations that need you to work around or with children - such as a daycare or school
  • Hospitals
  • Police departments
  • Other government or public jobs

Cases that have been sealed are not visible to any other employer. Landlords are also unable to view any sealed records.

Law enforcement authorities, on the other hand, have access to the records that have been sealed. Courts, police departments, and state attorneys are all examples of law enforcement agencies.

Anyone, including you, can't view records that have been sealed or expunged without a court order.

Qualifying for a Sealed or Expungement Order

You must have no past conviction, and the charges must be dismissed to be eligible to have the case erased. The prosecution abandoned the case, the judge approved a motion to dismiss, or you were acquitted at trial, all of which are examples of dismissal. You can also have your case expunged if it has been sealed for at least 10 years.

Furthermore, you can have pled no contest, guilty, or even been proven guilty in court to qualify for record sealing as long as adjudication was withheld. Of course, there are some offenses that do not fall under this category. An experienced expungement attorney can assist you in determining whether or not you are eligible.

If you meet the requirements, there are a few actions you must take. The first step is to receive a certificate of eligibility from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). However, just because you're eligible doesn't mean you're going to get it. The judge makes the final decision, and the prosecutor has the opportunity to object. That is why it is critical to seek legal advice to ensure that all problems are handled properly.

What Is the Main Difference Between Expungement and Record Sealing?

The primary distinction between expunging and sealing an individual's criminal record is that a sealed record "exists" in both a physical and legal sense, whereas expungement removes all evidence of a criminal charge or an arrest. It is the usual protocol to seal records in juvenile criminal procedures, as well as other criminal cases involving a juvenile, once the person becomes 18, although those documents can still be accessed with a court order.

What Is the Difference Between Expungement and a Pardon?

Expungements are usually available for criminal cases that have been dismissed or have been delayed in some way. With regards to cases that resulted in a criminal conviction, they are extremely scarce. Only after a conviction is a pardon required, which forgives the offender and removes any outstanding sentence.

Criminal records remain public after a pardon, albeit depending on the laws of the jurisdiction, the person may be able to petition for expungement. Judges have the power to give expungements, whereas the President of the US has the power to grant pardons for federal crimes and state governors for state-level criminal offenses.

Contact Us Today for a Free Case Evaluation!

Criminal records do not have to last a lifetime. You can get your arrest record sealed or expunged. Contact us to get your criminal history record expunged if you have no prior convictions. We value our attorney-client relationship and fight aggressively for your rights!

Florida's Expungement & Sealing Law

Interesting Facts About Criminal Records

Criminal Records and Employment Screenings

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David Weisselberger
Author | Founder
"David Weisselberger is the founder of Erase The Case. He completed his Bachelor of Arts at the University of Florida, & also his Juris Doctor from UM School of Law. Afterwards, He has been working as a former Miami-Dade County Assistant Public Defender. Also, as a solo lawyer and former associate at South Florida’s honored Saban & Solomon Law Firm. He has learned firsthand the effects people face from having a public criminal arrest record mark their lives. Therefore, David has always been working hard to help people get rid of haunting crimnal past and have a second chance in life"

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