Expungement: Is It Truly a Clean Slate?
For any and all arrests that result in a dismissal or nolle prosequi (State of Florida drops your case) you may be eligible for expungement off your criminal record as long as you've never been adjudicated guilty or delinquent for any other charges on your criminal record. The nice thing about expunging your record is that the law allows you to legally deny ever being arrested and you won't get into any legal trouble for denying your charges that were expunged, subject to certain statutory exceptions.
What does expungement mean? According to Merriam Webster Dictionary the word expunge means to destroy, eliminate, and/or to mark for deletion. Unfortunately for a person seeking to destroy or expunge one's criminal records, the legal definition of expungement is not as black and white as it is in the dictionary. A person can hire an attorney to petition the court to expunge their criminal record, the court can order the expungement of the person's criminal record and yet when the person applies for certain types of jobs that record is still there for a potential employer to review.
Although a state court may order the destruction of a criminal history record, a federal law enforcement agency such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation may choose to ignore the expungement order because the agency or government believes they're not under the state court's jurisdiction to follow the order granted by the state court judge to expunge a criminal record. Furthermore, some criminal history information is still retained by local and state agencies because not all criminal history records can be lawfully denied. There are certain jobs that a person has no other choice but to disclose his record even if a state court judge expunged it. For example, a person who applies to be a police officer, lawyer, or teacher cannot hide their criminal records from those entities that are seeking to employ them and therefore these agencies will have access to certain databases which will contain criminal record history information even if the state court expunges the record.
So why would you get it done if your record won't be completely destroyed? That question is asked by many of our clients and is a terrific question. For most clients at the Umansky law firm, they find that regardless of what position they are applying for they would prefer to expunge their criminal record because it does limit the amount of people who can get access to the person's criminal history information. In the age of the internet and the vast resources that are available to public and private employers, neighbors, friends and yes, unfortunately your enemies, criminal history information can be easily found on the web with minimal efforts.
Your neighbor down the street who you get in a fight with can go online at the Orange, Seminole, Brevard, Lake, Volusia or Osceola County Clerk of Court and put your name in and pull up most of the information concerning the charges and disposition of your criminal case. A co-employee who does not get along with you can try to embarrass you at work by going online and pulling up this information and passing it on to your boss. A friend of yours today could be your worst nightmare tomorrow, as a dispute between you becomes personal and that person seeks to tell your boss, spouse or others intimately connected with your life that you were arrested several years ago for a relatively minor offense that you had in fact gotten dismissed or dropped. So even if you are applying to become a lawyer or a teacher or a doctor or fall under any of the other statutory exceptions you may strongly want to consider expunging your criminal record today. If you are not ... you should consider expunging your record so the public does not know of your personal mistake. Call our expungement attorneys and lawyers at our Orlando offices today at 407-228-3838 or click on the contact button on this page.
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