Can I Clean Up My Criminal Record?
Like most legal questions, the answer is “it depends.” In Florida, there are specific requirements, defined by statute, that govern whether or not you are eligible to have certain offenses sealed or expunged.
The basic requirements are:
- You must not have been adjudicated guilty (or delinquent, for juveniles) of any criminal offense (including criminal traffic offenses and misdemeanor ordinance violations).
- You must not have been adjudicated guilty or delinquent of the offense(s) you are seeking to have sealed or expunged.
- You must not have had anything sealed or expunged before (with extremely limited exceptions).
- The offense you are applying to have sealed or expunged cannot be one of the enumerated ineligible offenses (see list here).
- You cannot have another petition to seal or expunge pending in another court.
- You cannot currently be on probation or under court supervision for the offense you are applying to have sealed or expunged.
- (Expungement only, without sealing first) The charges you are applying to have expunged were dismissed (or not filed on).
Unfortunately, if you don’t meet all of these criteria, you won’t be eligible to seal or expunge your record. Note some key points, here – you can only seal or expunge ONE case, ever, in your lifetime; and you cannot have been adjudicated guilty of ANY other offense. If your case wasn’t dismissed or you weren’t given a ‘withhold of adjudication,’ you won’t be eligible. If you have two separate cases you received withholds on, you can generally only pick ONE to have sealed or expunged (so you must choose wisely!).
Once its determined that you are eligible, there are a bunch of hoops to jump through. Nothing happens overnight, so patience is a virtue. You have to obtain a certificate of eligibility from FDLE. If you are applying to expunge the charge, the prosecuting State Attorney’s office must fill out a portion of the form to apply for the certificate. That can take a several weeks, depending on their backlog. Once the form is complete, obtaining the certificate from FDLE can then take a month or more.
In addition to attorney’s fees, there are also a few costs involved. The good news is that these are generally set and easy to predict up front:
- $75.00 – FDLE application fee for the Certificate of Eligibility
- $42.00 – Clerk of Court filing fee (Brevard County)
- $1.00/page – Clerk of Court fee for copies of the court records to be filed with your petition
- $2.00/document – Clerk of Court fee for certifying copies of the court records to be filed with your petition
- $12.00 / $16.00 / $20.00 – Fees for certified copies of the order granting your petition on the necessary agencies. The first amount includes the sheriff, State Attorney, and Defense Attorney; the second includes the sheriff, arresting agency, State Attorney, and Defense Attorney; the third includes the sheriff, arresting agency, State Attorney, Pre-trial or Probation Officer, and Defense Attorney.
Attorney Ruth Singer can advise you as to whether you are eligible to seal or expunge your record, and can handle the matter for you from start to finish. She generally charges only a flat fee, so you can easily predict your out of pocket costs up front.
About Attorney Ruth Singer
Attorney Singer holds a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Florida. She also holds a J.D. from Florida A&M University College of Law, where she graduated at the top of her class. Attorney Singer clerked for an administrative law judge in the Drug Enforcement Administration in Arlington, VA, and worked as an Assistant Public Defender in Orlando, FL, before entering private practice. She is also admitted to practice in Oklahoma.
Attorney Singer is a dedicated and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney, with experience representing clients at both the trial and appellate levels. She has experience defending criminal cases through pretrial discovery, motions to suppress and dismiss, and at trial. As a former public defender, Attorney Singer strongly believes that the state must be held to its very high burden of proof. Attorney Singer aims to provide compassionate, client-focused legal representation and high-quality counsel that is accessible, affordable, and practical when it matters most.
Learn more about how The Singer Firm can help you clean up your record by scheduling a free consultation now at 321-804-3266.