The local state attorney's office is offering a workshop to assist those who are interested in sealing or expunging their criminal records. Before running down to the program or hiring a Miami criminal lawyer to seal or expunge your record, there are some things a person should know before laying out any money. The program being offered by the Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office is being held at the University Lakes Homes Clubhouse located at 12850 SW 14th Street. The event will be held on Thursday, September 23, 2010 between the hours of 4:00 and 7:00.
After a person is arrested, even if the charges are eventually dropped by the state attorney's office, a permanent arrest record will exist for the world to see unless the record is sealed or expunged. Even if a person's criminal charges are dropped by the prosecutor, an arrest record can seriously jeopardize job opportunities and relationships. Sealing and expunging records is not overfly complicated, but a certain process must be followed. From start to finish is it usually take 4 to 5 months to complete the sealing or expunging of criminal record. In order to be eligible for an expungement, a defendant mus have had their charge no actioned or nolle prossed, or they are seeking to expunge a record that has been sealed for a period of 10 years. To be eligible to seal a record, a defendant must have received a withhold of adjudication.
The process requires that a person submit a Florida Department of Law Enforcement Application for Certification of Eligibility along with a certified disposition to the state attorney's office. The state attorney's office will run a background check to determine if a person has any prior convictions within the United States. If the records check does not reveal any convictions or prior sealed or expunged records, a prosecutor will sign off on the certification and return it to you or your criminal lawyer's officer. You will be required to submit your fingerprints along with the certificate to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) located in Tallahassee. FDLE will also run a national background check looking for criminal convictions or prior sealed or expunged records. A person with a prior conviction even a misdemeanor will preclude someone from sealing or expunging their record. Even a DUI conviction will prevent a record from being sealed or expunged. Once a person has been cleared by FDLE, the appropriate petitions affidavits and orders must be filed with clerk of court. A judge will review the file a determine whether a sealing or expungement should be granted or denied. The court will always grant the motion except in limited circumstances.
While a prior conviction will preclude a person from sealing or expunging their record, a person with no prior record may have a problem depending on the charge for which they were arrested. Both felony and misdemeanor cases can be sealed or expunged. Serious felony cases cannot be sealed or expunged. Charges that cannot be sealed or expunged include felony sex offenses, drug trafficking, fraud, child abuse, child neglect, or grand theft in the second or third degree. The benefit of sealing or expunging a criminal record is that it is not readily accessible to the general public; however, federal authorities, such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will get a hit as a result of a background check and in most instances, a person will have to disclose information regarding the arrest. Once a record is sealed or expunged a person can legally say they have never been arrested. Exceptions include: applying to be a law enforcement officer, school employee or Department of Children and Family Services employee.
Miami-Dade County Residents Offered "Second Chance" with Criminal Sealing and Expungement Program, SFLCN.com September 22, 2010.