What Is The Expungement Process? Is There A Waiting Period?
Are Certain Types Of Charges Easier To Expunge Or Have Sealed Or Is It A Standard Process?
It’s mostly a standard process to seal or expunge your record. There are the minor crimes that are eligible to be sealed or expunged. You certainly can’t be adjudicated and your case has to be over, meaning you can’t still be on probation from the offense. Your case must be completed or it must be finished. You must have a withhold of adjudication and it has to be an eligible crime. In case it is, it is recommended getting it sealed or expunged. That way you don’t have that information out there for the public to easily view.
Is There A Waiting Period Before You Can Begin The Expungement Process?
No, you can begin the process right away, as soon as your probation is terminated and your case is over. Your attorney will generally go ahead and order all the records, order your judgments and sentences bring you in for a consultation to explain the process. You’ll sign an affidavit stating that you haven’t been convicted of any other crime and that this is the first time you’re sealing and expunging it.
The attorney will then go ahead and have you fingerprinted and there are some fees and costs associated through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that they require.
So as soon as your case is over, they can start on that right away. It’s important to start right away because the process can take about 6 to 8 months to complete. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can actually get your record sealed and/or expunged.
Detailed Process For Having The Record Sealed Or Expunged
Generally, you set an appointment with the attorney. They’re going to review your record and they’re going to determine whether you’re eligible. Certainly if you’re not eligible, it stops there.
If you are eligible, then they’re going to prepare some paperwork for you. There is going to be an affidavit that you’re going to sign and have notarized attesting to the fact that you weren’t convicted of the crime that you’re trying to get sealed or expunged.
As of the time of this writing, there is a $75 processing fee to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and your attorney is going to gather all that information and get all the information from you. They’re then going to send it to Tallahassee, to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, for review.
It takes them about four months to review everything. The outcome is discretionary. If they decide that you meet the criteria, and you have a right to get your record sealed or expunged, then they give you a Certificate of Eligibility. That Certificate of Eligibility is mailed back to the attorney’s office who can then go to the chief judge in the local jurisdiction to set a court date.
At that court date, with the Certificate of Eligibility, the attorney will direct the State attorney’s office, the police department or sheriff’s office, whoever arrested their client, and the judge or the clerk of court the Certificate of Eligibility.
The Certificate of Eligibility is an order that basically directs them to go ahead and seal or expunge the record. By court order, they then begin the process of actually sealing and expunging. Once it’s sealed or expunged, you can testify under oath that it never even happened.
Even prosecutors in the State attorney’s office do not have access to any of the sealed or expunged records, as they are completely eliminated from the computer system. They cannot be viewed and are kept in a separate location offsite.
It then takes a court order for anyone to go ahead and view those records once it’s expunged, and they take that process very seriously.
Read about the Expungement Process And It’s Waiting Period, or call the law office of Blake & Dorsten P.A. for a free initial consultation at (727) 286-6141 and get the information you’re seeking.
If After An Expungement, Someone Were Arrested For The Same Crime, Would That Then Be Considered A First-time Offense?
Yes. However, you have to remember if the person was actually convicted, then they are not going to be eligible for a sealing or expungement again.
For example, let’s say you have an accusation of possession of marijuana or a minor drug offense, you successfully completed probation, adjudication was withheld and you came to Blake & Dorsten. Now want that record to be sealed so your future employers could not view that.
After the offense was successfully sealed, then five years later you get another possession of marijuana charge, that charge will come in as a first-time offense. When the prosecutor reviewing your case looks at your prior record, they will not be able to find the fact that you had a prior possession of marijuana once it’s sealed or expunged. So the latest offense will be considered a first time offense.
You may go through the system as a first time offense and then you will not be eligible to seal at that second time because you had your one-time shot to get it sealed or expunged. However, it gives you an opportunity to have it a second first-time offense, so to speak, which is another reason why it’s important to get it sealed or expunged.
How Long Does The Process To Have A Record Sealed Or Expunged Actually Take?
First of all, your case has to be over and completed. Once it is over and completed, it’s a pretty involved process. You make an appointment with the attorney, who will get all the paperwork finished, signed, and notarized. They take all the fees and costs and get that sent up to Tallahassee.
It depends on the time of the year and it depends on how busy they are but on an average, it’s been taking about six months to get that first Certificate of Eligibility. Once you can get that certificate from Tallahassee, things happen a lot quicker. As soon as you get a court date with the local jurisdiction and get in front of the chief judge, you can generally get that sealed or expunged in just a few weeks.
The whole process has been taking about 6 to 8 months, which is not too bad. When you’re getting your record sealed or expunged, the government doesn’t have any urgency to erase your record. From their perspective, they would rather you not get it sealed or expunged. It’s a huge advantage to the individual sealing or expunging their record.
The government is clearly not in any hurry to do it so it’s going to take a few months and you have to be patient. A good attorney would like to get it done right away and the sooner you start the process, the sooner it’s going to be completed.
Who Should Receive A Copy Of The Order To Seal Or Expunge A Criminal Record As Proof?
Once you go to the chief judge, the chief judge is going to assign an order that’s going to dictate that the three main government agencies that were involved in your criminal case go ahead and seal and/or expunge that record.
These agencies are going to be the State attorney’s office or the prosecutor that prosecuted you, the arresting agency, and the clerk of court which has maintained all the public records for the courts. Generally, it’s going to involve everyone that was involved in your case.
If you need information on How Long Does The Expungement Process Take And What Happens After, call the law office of Blake & Dorsten P.A. for a free initial consultation at (727) 286-6141 and get the information and legal answers you’re seeking.