Expungement Lawyers in Jacksonville — Helping Citizens Remove Blemishes From Their Records
Everybody makes mistakes. For many people, such lapses of judgment only result in a bit of guilt or upset loved ones. For others, these errors mean a lifelong criminal record. Even if you messed up when you were young and have followed the law ever since, a record of that criminal offense can chase you forever. Even if an arrest occurred without a conviction, it still serves as a blemish on your record. It seems unfair that past mistakes can affect the rest of your life. Fortunately, they don’t have to. An expungement lawyer in Jacksonville may be able to clear things up.
At Weldon Law Group, PLLC, our Florida criminal defense attorneys strive to help our clients stay out of the system. If you’ve already been through that system, however, removing any record of it may still be possible. By having a criminal record sealed or expunged, it’s possible to stop potential employers, romantic interests, neighbors, and even police officers from uncovering your past. Whether criminal charges were dropped or you were found guilty of a crime, there may be options available. Contact our Jacksonville expungement attorneys today to schedule your confidential consultation and learn more.
Can You Have a Criminal Record Expunged in Florida?
If you’ve been convicted of a crime in the past, you likely know how stressful it can be to undergo a criminal background check. Even if you weren’t convicted of a crime, though, you may have found out the hard way that you don’t have a clean criminal record. That’s because background checks also reveal prior arrests. Even without a conviction, this can create problems with potential employers, landlords, and more. Fortunately, it is possible to have a record expunged in Florida. In fact, you can utilize the expungement or record-sealing process to achieve similar beneficial results.
Depending on the approach you take, being approved for the process can hide prior arrests and convictions from public disclosure. In fact, there are even times when criminal justice agencies may have difficulty accessing such records. The record sealing and expungement processes should even stop information from showing up when people run background investigations through federal law enforcement agencies. However, recent history has proven that failures to update records can sometimes occur on a federal level. This is one of the many reasons you may benefit from working with an expungement lawyer in Jacksonville, FL.
Should You Have a Record Sealed or Expunged?
Under Florida law, those who wish to make their criminal record inaccessible are not just confined to the expungement process. They also have the option to seal their records. However, this decision isn’t one where you should weigh the benefits of each. That’s because expungement is always the optimal route if it’s an option. While record sealing does hide arrests and convictions from public access in most cases, the records themselves still technically exist. As long as that is the case, it only takes a court order for that record to be disclosed. This is what makes expungement the optimal approach.
You may be wondering why everyone wouldn’t opt for an expungement since it carries more benefits. The simple fact is that not everyone will qualify. While you must submit a Certificate of Eligibility to qualify for either, the requirements for Florida expungement are more difficult to meet. In fact, the process often proves so difficult that even those who do qualify for expungement are unable to attain it. This often has more to do with paperwork complications than eligibility issues. As such, you should speak with a legal professional if you’re seeking to have records sealed or expunged.
Doing so could make a world of difference.
Who Is Eligible for Criminal Record Expungement?
Having a criminal record expunged means that it’s technically destroyed. For such a beneficial outcome, there are obviously some hurdles to clear for eligibility. Of course, those who have a sealed record also had difficulties to overcome. If you’re wondering whether you’re eligible to have a record expunged or sealed, here are the qualifications you’ll need to meet:
Qualifications for Florida Expungement
- No charging documents were filed in the case, or if they were, charges were later dismissed or nolle pros.
- No prior guilty verdicts or adjudication of delinquency involving acts are outlined in Sections 943.051(3)(b) of the Florida Statute.
- No guilty or delinquent adjudication in the case where expungement is sought.
- Applicant must not have pursued previous expungement or record sealing under Florida law.
- Applicants cannot have pending applications for expungement or sealing before any court.
Qualifications for Florida Record Sealing
- Cannot have a prior adjudication of guilt or delinquency for crimes outlined in Section 943.051(3)(b) of the Florida Statute.
- There cannot have been an adjudication of guilt or delinquency involving the case where record sealing is sought.
- Applicant cannot have previously sought expungement or sealing of records under Florida law.
- There can be no current sealing or expungement petitions before any court.
- The charge for which sealing is sought cannot be a disqualifying offense or qualify as a related offense.
- Any community control or probation must be completed or terminated.
What Crimes Are Not Eligible to Be Sealed or Expunged?
Having a record sealed or expunged is not possible for crimes that fall under certain Florida statutes. Even if you were not adjudicated delinquent or guilty, these crimes still do not qualify to be a sealed or expunged record. However, you may qualify for one of the processes if the charges against you were dismissed or otherwise dropped. This is why you should consider speaking with a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney if you’re currently facing charges. If a verdict or plea agreement was already reached in the following cases, however, you may not have the option to have them removed from your record:
- Luring or enticing a child
- Procuring a minor for prostitution
- Sexual battery
- Sexual performance by a child
- Sexual misconduct with a developmentally disabled person or a mentally ill patient (if an employee)
- Buying or selling of minors
- Drug trafficking
- Illegal use of explosives
- Burglary of a dwelling
- Certain acts of domestic violence
While this list certainly seems extensive, it’s actually nowhere near exhaustive. This is why you should consider contacting the Florida expungement lawyers at Weldon Law Group. We have extensive experience working within the Florida Department of Corrections and the courtrooms that handle criminal cases. We know what can and what cannot be expunged or sealed, and we know how to navigate the process in a way that improves our clients’ odds of success. When you work with our legal team, we’re committed to getting the best possible outcome on your behalf. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.
Can Law Enforcement Agencies Access Sealed Records?
Many individuals fear that — even with the help of a Florida expungement lawyer — the initial arresting agency will still be able to access their criminal record. In fact, some people have found that any law enforcement agency can find this information even after record sealing. However, therein lies one of the most important differences between having a record expunged or sealed. While the possibility of law enforcement accessing records exists in either situation, this access is much more difficult after expunging a record.
That’s because sealing a criminal record merely hides it from public view. When a record is expunged, it’s almost as if the state attorney’s office destroys it forever. Even a police officer or agency cannot access your record without a court order. In fact, you don’t even have to disclose certain information (e.g., arrest, conviction) when directly asked by certain individuals, organizations, or agencies. There are some exceptions to the nondisclosure rule — such as when you’re seeking a license to carry a concealed weapon — but in most cases, having a record expunged restricts access even for law enforcement agencies.
Clearly, this can be an invaluable outcome. That’s why you should consider speaking with a Jacksonville expungement lawyer today.
Contact an Expungement Lawyer in Jacksonville FL Today
Many people assume that their records are not eligible for expungement. This is often based on the idea that a conviction or guilty plea bars such action. However, this simply is not the case. While being adjudicated guilty in certain circumstances does make a person ineligible for sealing and expungement, far more people qualify for this legal remedy than you know. In fact, you might find that a record was automatically expunged during background checks at a potential job! However, you should not count on automatic expungement. An experienced attorney can help you understand your options.
At Weldon Law Group, PLLC, we’ve seen what can happen when someone is burdened with a criminal history that follows them forever. This is disheartening to witness — particularly when a person has since become a law-abiding citizen. The only thing more heartbreaking than this is when someone who is eligible to have their criminal history record expunged doesn’t realize it. This can result in a lifetime of unnecessary difficulties and judgment from others. Contact us today by calling (904) 204-3420 to schedule a confidential consultation. Our expungement lawyers in Jacksonville FL will help you understand your options.