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Describe the Process for Sealing or Expunging a Criminal Record in Florida and How Long Does it Take

We get a lot of calls from people in the Jacksonville, Florida area and throughout Florida who want to know about sealing or expunging a criminal record. Sealing or expunging a criminal record can be a powerful tool for people who are concerned that a past mistake that shows up on their criminal record may affect their ability to get a good job or further their education.

When we get calls from people who want to know if their criminal record can be sealed or expunged, the first thing we usually discuss is whether they are eligible to have the particular criminal record sealed or expunged. Florida law dictates whether or not a person is eligible to have a criminal record sealed or expunged. Unfortunately, not everyone is eligible to have a criminal record sealed or expunged. The circumstances that determine whether a person can have a criminal record sealed or expunged are too in-depth to go over in this post. If you have a question as to whether you are eligible to have a criminal record sealed or expunged, feel free to contact us for a free consultation, and we can answer that question for you.

Once it is determined that you are eligible to have a criminal record expunged or sealed, it is important to understand that the process can take a few months. If you have a job interview or school application coming up and want to have a criminal record sealed or expunged, it is important to start the process quickly so the order to have your criminal record sealed or expunged can be signed by a judge and disseminated to the proper entities in plenty of time. The first step is to get fingerprinted and have the fingerprint form filled out. There is also an Application for Certificate of Eligibility that you need to sign and have notarized. With those documents, we can obtain the other information, signatures and court documents needed to send a package to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) so you can be certified as eligible. The FDLE charges $75 for the certification process and takes 6 – 8 weeks to respond once they receive the package. Once the FDLE certifies that you are eligible to have the particular criminal record sealed or expunged, we prepare and file a motion and proposed order for the judge. Once the judge signs the order to seal or expunge your record, several copies go to the clerk’s office in the county where the criminal record is kept. For a fee, the clerk’s office distributes the signed order to the FDLE and local police agency who then seals or expunges your record. The entire process necessarily takes a few months.

It is a good idea to seal or expunge your criminal record if you are eligible if you are at all concerned about potential employers or school administrators seeing your criminal record. If you have any questions about the process to seal or expunge a criminal record or whether you are eligible, feel free to contact us any time for a free consultation.