Everyone knows what it is like to be young and make foolish decisions. Unfortunately, some of our decisions can result in permanent marks on our record. Whether it is a petty or minor offense such as shoplifting or underage possession of alcohol, or a wrongful accusation as a result of being at the wrong place at the wrong time, criminal records can have a devastating impact on your life. Jobs, volunteer agencies, and even credit companies often run background checks, and a mark on your record may make it extremely difficult for you to obtain employment or auto loans and can even prevent you from renting or purchasing a home.
Fortunately, if your unique case is minor or your first offense, you may be able to expunge criminal records with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Record Expungement Lawyers in Gainesville
What Does Expunged Mean?
Expungement is defined as the removal and/or destruction of a criminal record. In the state of Florida, you have the option of sealing a criminal record and expunging a criminal record. An experienced criminal attorney can help you determine which process is appropriate for your unique situation.
Record Sealing vs. Expungement
Sealing refers to the process of removing a criminal record from the access of the public. This means that when companies and employers run background checks, they will not see any offenses. However, the criminal records are still there. People with appropriate clearance, such as court offices and law enforcement offices, will still be able to see the criminal record. If you pleaded guilty to a charge and were not convicted (withhold of adjudication), or if you pleaded guilty or no contest to the charges, you may be eligible to apply for a sealing.
Expungement destroys a criminal record completely. If the charges in your case did not make it to trial or were dropped by the judge or state, you may be eligible to apply for an expungement. The expungement process removes criminal records from all databases as if they never existed.
Expungement is ideal for people with minor offenses looking to make major decisions in their life. If you're wondering how to get a misdemeanor expunged, simply contact a criminal defense attorney in Gainesville. Violent crimes such as arson, homicide, terrorism, kidnapping and sexual crimes are not eligible for expungement. Even still, you should contact an experienced criminal attorney that is well-versed in Florida expungement laws to assist you with the overall expungement process as it can be quite technical and complex.
How Expungement Works
- Apply for expungement. The primary step that you must take in the expungement process is to complete the Seal/Expunge application packet with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. You must read the application carefully, as there are many technicalities and rules. You will be required to obtain a copy of your case from the Criminal Court’s Clerk Office. Then, you should complete the fingerprint form (your local police department can help you with this) and have your signature notarized.
- Wait for your certificate. Next, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will spend approximately 30 days reviewing your application and determining your eligibility. They will then send you either a letter telling you why you did not qualify, a Certificate of Eligibility to Seal your case, or a Certificate of Eligibility to Expunge your case. These certificates are only considered legitimate for up to 12 months.
- Get your certificate authorized. Take your certificate to the Criminal Court Clerk’s Office for authorization. You may be asked to pay additional fees and fill out additional paperwork.
How long does it take to expunge a record?
It can take anywhere from 4 to 6 months to expunge a record.
Begin Your Expungement Process Today
After a successful expungement, you will reap many benefits. Whether your case is expunged or sealed, your offense will no longer be available to the public. You have the legal right to deny previous charges, rent homes, and you may even experience greater job offers. In limited and rare circumstances, such as if you decide to purchase a firearm or desire to work with young kids and the elderly, your record may be released. However, expungement benefits outweigh this limitation.
Experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates would be happy to assist you with the expungement process. Let us help you every step of the way.
Contact us today.