Learn the Difference Between Sealing and Expunging Criminal Records

Stamping documentsUnfortunately, criminal records are considered public records in Florida; thus, having a criminal record – even one that involves dismissed cases or “not guilty” verdicts – can cause some fairly serious damage to your reputation, present life, and future possibilities. For example, with a criminal record, you might not be able to:

  • Attend certain colleges, universities, or trade schools.
  • Enroll is special programs.
  • Work in specific employment fields.

Fortunately, however, there are ways to handle your criminal record so that it no longer affects your day-to-day life. Such methods are achieved by sealing or expunging your criminal record.

Sealing Your Criminal Record

Simply put, sealing a criminal record ensures that the general public can’t access the record by conventional means. Generally, in order to access a sealed criminal record, one needs a court order. For example, if your criminal record is sealed, it won’t show up during a background check. If you apply for a job and the potential employer requires background checks, then your criminal record won’t appear and, usually, you can answer “no” if asked whether you’ve ever been convicted of a crime. Typically, it’s possible to seal a record if your situation involves withholding of adjudication or you were found not guilty and you’ve never been convicted of any other crimes. Of course, you’ll want to discuss the details of your specific criminal record sealing with your attorney. Make sure you choose a lawyer with experience in sealing (and expunging) criminal records, and one who can explain to you how both processes will affect your future.

Expunging Your Criminal Record

Generally speaking, expunging your criminal record is preferable to sealing your criminal record; this is because with expungement, it’s as if the criminal record never existed. You’ve wiped the slate clean, so to speak. Plus, unlike when you seal your record, when you expunge your record, no one can access it – even with a court order. Similar to sealing a court record, expunging a court record means you can legally deny any events included in the record. For example, if you’re completing a school or job application and are asked if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime, you can answer “no.” Also similar to sealing court records, generally you must have committed no other crimes to be eligible for expungement. Note, too, that sometimes your criminal record must be sealed for a certain period of time before it becomes eligible for expungement. Keep in mind, however, that some offenses can be only sealed; expungement is not an option for all offenses. A skilled criminal attorney with experience in sealing and expunging criminal records can determine whether your record is eligible for sealing or expungement.

Sealing or Expunging Your Criminal Record

Do you have a criminal record you wish to seal or expunge? Contact the attorneys at Farkas and Crowley right away. Serving the West Palm beach area, the Farkas and Crowley legal team has experience in sealing and expungement laws and can take thorough and efficient steps to make sure your criminal history is kept private, if your criminal record is eligible. Give us at call at 561-444-9529 or contact us online today to schedule your free consultation.