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How do I get my criminal record expunged?

People make mistakes. It's a fact of life that a lot of us have just come to expect. But when those mistakes lead to criminal convictions, it's difficult to ignore what's happen. And in most cases, your criminal record won't let you forget either.

As we explained in a blog post last year, criminal convictions can affect your life in devastating ways. They can prevent you from getting a new job, a loan through a bank or financial institution, and in some cases, a conviction may even prevent you from getting accepted to a college or university. It's for these reasons and more that you may want to consider getting your criminal record expunged.

How do I get my criminal record expunged?

Under Florida law, expungements are possible first if a person has "applied for and received a certificate of eligibility for expunction" under Florida Statutes ยง943.0585. After this point, however, things can get complicated. That's because there are very specific circumstances in which a record may be expunged, they are:

  • Your case was dismissed
  • You were found not guilty
  • Your case contained no information

Even then, it's important to note that any crime that requires sex offender registration is not eligible for expungement. Furthermore, there are even further specifics on when a crime can be expunged based on the timing of a dismissal or verdict of not guilty.

If you are successfully issued a certificate of eligibility, you must then file a petition for relief with the court in the county where your arrest took place. Along with a certificate of eligibility, petitioners must also provide a sworn statement that supports their request to have their record expunged. If a judge finds the petition to be sufficient, then he or she will issue an order to expunge, thereby clearing your criminal record of the crimes listed in your petition.

Is obtaining a lawyer necessary?

Because of the complexity of the expungement process and the level of legal knowledge necessary to navigate the process successfully, it's considered a very good idea to obtain the services of a skilled criminal defense attorney who has particular experience handling expungements. Without a lawyer's help, you may make a mistake that could have costly consequences. 

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