What is Record Sealing?
Here at Domingos Law, your secrets are safe with us! But, when it comes to your criminal history record, this may not be the case. Criminal history records are accessible to the public. In Florida, it is easy for anyone to access criminal records—even records of cases where you were arrested and charged, but that did not result in a conviction. But never fear! There is a way that, in some cases, your criminal record can be sealed. Let the Domingos Law Team guide you through the process!
What Is It?
Pursuant to Section 943.045 (19), Florida Statutes, the “sealing of a criminal history record” is defined as “the preservation of a record under such circumstances that it is secure and inaccessible to any person not having a legal right or access to the record or the information contained and preserved therein.” In other words, to seal a record means to protect a criminal history record from public access by court order. Once a record is sealed, it can only be accessed in limited circumstances by government agencies or those with a legal right.
What Does This Mean?
Once your record is sealed, you are legally entitled to deny that you have ever been convicted of a crime. Except, if you are applying for employment with a government agency, including schools, you must disclose that you have a sealed or expunged record. Thus, government agencies will have access to this information.
How Does It Work?
The first step in sealing your record is meeting the eligibility requirements.
To be eligible for record sealing in Florida, you must:
- Have no conviction of any offense—misdemeanor or felony—on your record in Florida or in any other state
- Have never had another case sealed previously in Florida
- Have successfully completed probation or any other form of court supervision (such as withheld adjudication)
- Not have a record that is disqualified for sealing under Section 943.0584, Florida Statutes
Charges Disqualified for Sealing
In Florida, there are some specified circumstances where, even if adjudication was withheld, record of a charge may not be sealed. These offenses are:
- Sexual misconduct, as defined in s. 393.135, s. 3457 394.4593, or s. 916.1075;
- Illegal use of explosives, as defined in chapter 552;
- Terrorism, as defined in s. 775.30;
- Murder, as defined in s. 782.04, s. 782.065, or s. 782.09;
- Manslaughter or homicide, as defined in s. 782.07, s. 3463 782.071, or s. 782.072;
- Assault or battery, as defined in ss. 784.011 and 784.03, respectively, of one family or household member by another family or household member, as defined in s. 741.28(3);
- Aggravated assault, as defined in s. 784.021;
- Felony battery, domestic battery by strangulation, or aggravated battery, as defined in s. 784.03, s. 784.041, and s. 784.045, respectively;
- Stalking or aggravated stalking, as defined in s. 784.048;
- Luring or enticing a child, as defined in s. 787.025;
- Human trafficking, as defined in s. 787.06;
- Kidnapping or false imprisonment, as defined in s. 787.01 or s. 787.02;
- Any offense defined in chapter 794;
- Procuring a person less than 18 years of age for prostitution, as defined in former s. 796.03;
- Lewd or lascivious offenses committed upon or in the presence of persons less than 16 years of age, as defined in s. 800.04;
- Arson, as defined in s. 806.01;
- Burglary of a dwelling, as defined in s. 810.02;
- Voyeurism or video voyeurism, as defined in s. 810.14 and s. 810.145, respectively;
- Robbery or robbery by sudden snatching, as defined in s. 812.13 and s. 812.131, respectively;
- Carjacking, as defined in s. 812.133;
- Home-invasion robbery, as defined in s. 812.135;
- A violation of the Florida Communications Fraud Act, as provided in s. 817.034;
- Abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult, or aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult, as defined in s. 825.102;
- Lewd or lascivious offenses committed upon or in the presence of an elderly person or disabled person, as defined in s. 825.1025;
- Child abuse or aggravated child abuse, as defined in s. 827.03;
- Sexual performance by a child, as defined in s. 827.071;
- Any offense defined in chapter 839;
- Certain acts in connection with obscenity, as defined in s. 847.0133;
- Any offense defined in s. 847.0135;
- Selling or buying of minors, as defined in s. 847.0145;
- Aircraft piracy, as defined in s. 860.16;
- Manufacturing a controlled substance in violation of chapter 893;
- Drug trafficking, as defined in s. 893.135; or
- Any violation specified as a predicate offense for registration as a sexual predator pursuant to s. 775.21, or sexual offender pursuant to s. 943.0435, without regard to whether that offense alone is sufficient to require such registration.
Benefits of Sealing Your Records
There are many benefits to sealing your record. The most obvious benefit is that sealed records are no longer publicly available. So, what does this mean? Well, let’s say you were applying for employment or a house, and the application requests that you disclose your prior criminal history. By sealing your record, in most cases, you are legally entitled to deny that you have a criminal history. Sealing your record also makes it easier to obtain or maintain a professional license. All in all, sealing your record relieves any fear or anxiety you may have when someone wants to run a background check on you.
Sealing More Than One Record
You can only seal ONE CASE, ONE TIME. But there is an exception: where one or more arrests are directly related to the record you want to seal, the court may decide to seal more than one record. However, this all depends on the discretion of the court.
Let the Domingos Law Team Help You with Sealing or Expunging Your Record.
Like we said—your secrets are safe with us. Let the Domingos Law Team help you through the very detailed process of sealing your record. As always, it’s important to be honest and upfront with your attorney. Disclosing the circumstances pertaining to your criminal history record helps achieve the best outcome. If you’re wondering whether you qualify for sealing your record, give our office a call and arrange a confidential consultation with Attorney Bridgette M. Domingos.