Orlando Expungement Lawyers

Orlando Attorney

If you’ve been arrested or convicted of a crime, you likely already know how easy it is to access your criminal record. With today’s technology, a simple click of a button allows agencies, employers, and others to get instant access to your past. Your criminal history can limit your ability to find employment, attain child custody, immigrate, and regain driving privileges, among other challenges. Fortunately, there are ways in which your criminal charges may be cleared from your permanent record through what’s called the “expungement” process.

Expungement is a legal operation that removes a charge from a person’s criminal history. If an individual is granted expungement, a court order will be entered and all criminal justice agencies will remove the arrest from their records. This includes deleting data from public records, court dockets, and police files with the expectation that it won’t show up if an employer, landlord, or school performs a criminal background check. However, expunging your record in Florida isn’t always easy, especially without the help of a legal expert guiding you through the state’s often complicated expungement process.

FAQ: Record Sealing and Expungement in Florida

To “expunge” is to erase or remove completely. In law, expungement is the process by which a record is destroyed or sealed from state or federal access. To learn more about the process, consider some of the most commonly asked questions about the topic:

What Is Expungement?

The process of expunging a criminal record involves removing an arrest from public records. An expunged record is no longer visible when a background check is completed. Expungement is usually the best way to guarantee that a past mistake doesn’t come back to haunt you.

Why Should You Expunge Your Record?

Law enforcement agencies, prosecutorial groups, and the FBI maintain criminal histories that are available to the public. This means that potential employers, colleges, and credit companies can easily obtain your criminal history. Before you consider applying to college, buying a car, seeking a home loan, renting an apartment, or pursuing a new job, know that you may be subject to extensive credit and criminal background checks, which are utilized to eliminate those not deemed credible applicants. If you don’t choose to expunge your record, you may quickly be denied and face roadblocks to accomplishing many of your life goals.

Note that if your criminal record is sealed or expunged, not only will your record be hidden from view, but you may be legally permitted to say that the arrest never occurred.

A single charge or arrest can have a devastating impact on your career and future, especially if you’re between jobs, seeking a promotion, pursuing new employment, or applying for colleges, universities, or postgraduate schools.

When Can a Criminal Record Be Cleared, Sealed, Destroyed, or Expunged?

A criminal record is a list of your encounters with the criminal justice system. This involves contact with law enforcement agencies and the courts and may include arrests, detentions, convictions, and more. Certain charges may be cleared from your criminal record through legal expungement. However, while most misdemeanors and some felonies can be sealed or expunged, not all criminal charges are subject to expungement.  

In any arrest that results in a dismissal or a dropped case, the record may be expunged as long as you’ve never been found guilty or delinquent for another charge. Likewise, arrests that result in the finding of “adjudication of guilt withheld”—meaning that the charges can be sealed and thus removed from public records—are subject to certain statutory exceptions.

Florida recently expanded eligibility for immediate court-ordered “expunction” in cases where a person has been acquitted by a judge or has been found “not guilty” by a judge or jury. This new development allows an individual to bypass the requirement under former law that such a record must first be sealed for 10 years. Formerly, immediate expunction was available only if all charges were dismissed before trial. Other existing eligibility requirements for expungement remain in place. Only those who have had no prior convictions or expungements are eligible, and those charged with violent or sex offenses are ineligible.

How Does the Sealing or Expungement Process Work?

After we determine whether your charges qualify for expungement, our office will prepare an application that will be presented to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) along with your fingerprint card. FDLE will run a background check to make a final determination that you qualify for expungement. We’ll then prepare a petition or motion to file with the court with copies going to the appropriate prosecutor’s office and other law enforcement agencies that maintain your criminal history information. 

In many instances, the judge will grant the motion or petition without scheduling a hearing requiring you to appear in court. In other cases, the judge will mandate a hearing, and a date will be reserved for you to appear before the judge. At the hearing, the judge will consider the facts and circumstances of your case, review your records to ensure you’ve successfully completed your sentence, and investigate whether any new arrests or criminal convictions have been added to your record.

The judge will also listen to both the prosecutor’s position and your attorney’s arguments before deciding whether to grant the expungement petition.

How Long Will the Sealing or Expungement Process Take?

The sealing or expungement process, on average, takes anywhere from two to nine months to complete. While it may not be possible to provide an exact timetable as the process is dependent upon several factors, you may be able to determine a rough estimate by contacting the experienced Orlando criminal defense attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm. Contact us today so that one of our attorneys can assist you.

Contact the Trusted Expungement Attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm

If you’re interested in expunging your Florida criminal record, get in touch with legal professionals who can help review your case, gather evidence, and petition the judge. Fortunately, help is right around the corner. The skilled legal team at The Umansky Law Firm understands how challenging it can be to gain employment, housing, and other opportunities when you have a criminal record, which is why we’re dedicated to fighting for your rights and protecting your interests throughout the legal process. 

As former prosecutors and public defenders, our Orlando criminal defense attorneys can provide you with a sound strategy based on years of experience working in the criminal justice system. With over 100 years of combined legal acumen, we understand the ins and outs of the Florida expungement process and serve to protect our clients. We’ll work tirelessly to fight for your rights. Give us a call at (407) 228-3838 or complete our online contact form to receive a free consultation.