If your criminal record isn’t squeaky clean, doing something basic like landing a job, obtaining credit, or renting an apartment can be incredibly difficult. Something you did a long time ago can keep you from achieving your goals. Is it possible to get a clean criminal record? You can do it, with a little help from an attorney in your area.
Expungement vs. Sealing
While you might think that expunging your record is the same as having your record sealed, it’s actually very different.
Expungement— When you choose to expunge your criminal record, your record is altered. Expungement will remove and/or diminish many of the offenses that could cause you problems in the future. When you expunge your record, you can often answer that you don’t have a criminal record, which is key when it comes to rental or employment applications. Anything that related to the proceedings of your case will be treated as if it’s nonexistent—in fact, some states even destroy the records altogether.
Sealing— When you seal your criminal record, your record is clean, but documents related to it still exist, but are now significantly more difficult to obtain. Like expungement, sealing will often let you state that you don’t have a conviction on your record, but if someone’s willing to do the legwork, they could potentially see anything related to your former record.
Are You Eligible?
Before you can expunge your record, you should check into Florida’s requirements. Every state’s requirements for expungement is different, so it’s important that you work with a Florida lawyer who can help you determine if you’re eligible. Here are some circumstances that are generally acceptable to clean your criminal record:
- First-time offender
- Conviction for an arrest or a misdemeanor
- Juvenile conviction
- Sentence already served
- A year or more has passed without additional offenses
Filing for Expungement
After you determine that you’re eligible for expungement, it’s time to file a petition with the court. There’s a fee associated with it, and then there’s the wait time while the court processes the paperwork. To pursue expungement in Florida, you’ll need to obtain a certificate of eligibility, as well as a copy of the case’s disposition and a set of fingerprints. Please note: the certificate of eligibility is NOT an expungement, but rather it’s the paperwork required to file the petition for expungement.
If you’re concerned about what an employer or landlord could find when they conduct a background check, it’s time to take steps ensure that you have a clean criminal record.There are a lot of requirements associated with expungement, so it’s smart to engage a lawyer experienced in such matters to help guide you through the process. Contact us today!