Petitioning to Seal or Expunge your Criminal Record

 1. What is the benefit of having my record sealed or expunged?

According to Florida law, you can legally deny or fail to acknowledge the arrests covered by the sealed or


you are applying to change your immigration status, are a defendant in a criminal case or are seeking:

Employment with a criminal justice agency;

Employment or contract with, or license by the Department of Children and Family Services, the

Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Education, any district school board, any university

laboratory school, any charter school, any private or parochial school, or any local governmental entity

that licenses child care facilities;

Employment or use by such contractor or licensee in a sensitive position having direct contact with

children, the developmentally disabled, the aged, or the elderly;

Employment or access to a seaport;

Admission to The Florida Bar; or petitioning to seal or expunge.

CAUTION: Sealing or expunging your record in Florida will have no impact on private company or federal

databases. Even if criminal history information is sealed or expunged, it may still be available through private

companies that purchase such information from the State and counties. Therefore, employers and the general

public may have access to it. Your information may have also been submitted to the national criminal history

database by Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Effective July 1, 2006, all Florida judges will have

online access to view sealed records.


2. Generally speaking, who qualifies for sealing or expunging?

A person who has NOT been adjudicated guilty (convicted) as an adult, and has not previously sealed or

expunged may qualify, but there are many exceptions, see answers to number 3 and 6. Under s. 943.0515,

Florida has automatic expunction of a juvenile record, at age 24 or 26, depending on prior history and arrest

or conviction as an adult; expunction by petition of some misdemeanors after successful completion of pre- or

post-arrest or teen court diversion program under s. 943.0582; and, expunction of an arrest record under

s. 943.0581, for persons who have been arrested “contrary to law or by mistake.”


3. What would disqualify me from having my record sealed or expunged?

If you have been adjudicated guilty (convicted as an adult) of a criminal offense, including a criminal

traffic offense (e.g., DUI, DWLS), criminal ordinance violation, misdemeanor or felony.

If you were adjudicated delinquent (as a juvenile) on charges of: assault; battery; petit theft; carrying a

concealed weapon; unlawful use of destructive devices or bombs; negligent treatment of children; assault

or battery on a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or other specified personnel; cruelty to animals; arson;

unlawful possession or discharge of a weapon or firearm at a school-sponsored event or on school


If you were adjudicated guilty (convicted as an adult) or adjudicated delinquent (as a juvenile) for the

offense you seek to seal or expunge;

If you were placed on probation or community control, but later violated the terms of your sentence and

the judge converted the “withhold” to an “adjudication.”

If you were found guilty, pled guilty or no contest and have a “withhold of adjudication” on certain

offenses, even as a minor. See list of the disqualifying offenses in question number 6.

If you ever had a prior record sealed or expunged in any jurisdiction (even in another state). Automatic

expunction of juvenile records, expunction of records (pre and post arrest diversion), and expunction of

arrest “contrary to law or by mistake” do not count as a prior expunged record.

If you have a seal or expunge petition currently pending in another case.

If you have an open criminal case, are on probation or community control, owe community service hours

or have an unsatisfied court-ordered financial obligation such as court costs or restitution.


4. What is the difference between sealing and expunging a criminal history record? See sections 943.0585

and 943.059, Florida Statutes (2005).

When a record is sealed, the public will not have access to it through the government databases. That

means most employers will not have access to the information. However, city, county, state and federal

government and agencies, including the police and military, have a legal right to access criminal history

records even if they are sealed. See “CAUTION" above.

When a record is expunged, agencies that would have access to a sealed record will be able to know that

criminal information has been expunged from the record, and would only have access to the record

through a court order. See “CAUTION" above.