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How Do I Get My Criminal Record Sealed?

When a person gets arrested in Jacksonville, or anywhere else in Florida, it can leave a permanent mark on one’s criminal record that future employers and others can see. This is true even if the criminal charge(s) is baseless and ultimately the charge(s) is reduced or dropped. There is a remedy that can prevent most people and prospective employers from seeing the criminal record. The law allows a person to have a criminal record sealed or expunged in certain limited circumstances. This post will deal with sealing a criminal record; a future post will deal with expunging a criminal record.

Florida law indicates when a person can or cannot seal a criminal record. If a person is arrested for a crime, is formally charged with a crime and enters a plea of guilty or no contest, he/she still may be able to have that criminal record sealed if the judge withholds adjudication for the crime. If, in the alternative, the judge adjudicates the defendant guilty, Florida law says that record cannot be sealed. As a result, for anyone who has been arrested and charged with a crime in Florida and who may want that criminal record sealed, it is important to discuss the difference between a withhold of adjudication and an adjudication of guilt with the criminal defense lawyer prior to entering a plea of guilty or no contest.

If a criminal defendant in Florida pleads guilty or no contest to a crime and the judge withholds adjudication, sealing that criminal record remains an option. However, Florida law still may not allow the criminal record to be sealed if the charge is one of the listed charges that cannot be sealed. Additionally, the person’s prior criminal record may also be a factor in determining whether the law allows a person to seal a criminal record.

If you have been arrested for a crime in Jacksonville or another part of Florida, you should consider whether you may be eligible to have your record sealed before entering any plea. The effect that a guilty or no contest plea may have on your ability to later seal your criminal record should be discussed if the appearance of your criminal record is important to you, which it often is.

If you have been arrested for a crime in the Jacksonville, Florida area and want to know more about your rights to seal your criminal record, contact us for a free consultation.