A lot of people may have made a mistake, in the distant past, or used poor judgment which resulted in them being arrested. They may also have been subsequently convicted. It is a sad fact that this one issue will keep showing its ugly head for the rest of your life. Every time you do a job application, e.g., it will show up on your background check.
There is, however, a way to avoid a long and detailed explanation, with the hope that your explanation will be accepted. The way to avoid this, is that the law allows you to expunge (make it disappear), if you were arrested, or, if you were tried, pled, or otherwise convicted, sealing the conviction (basically can’t be found).
- Can I clean up my criminal past by doing this?
The law allows ONE such action, with the exception that certain crimes are not eligible for this.
- How long does this take?
It is a long and tedious process, which requires fingerprinting, a petition to Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement, the agreement of the State Prosecutor and the Judge, and about 2 months after it is done to work its way through the records. So figure about 6 months.
- How much does it cost?
$750, provided there is no appeal and all documents are provided in a timely manner upon request.
- If I got arrested for something, which subsequently never went to Court, will it still show on my record?
Yes, unless you get an expungement, in which case it will go away about 8 weeks after you get the Order from the Clerk.
- Can I still do this, even if it did go to Court, and I was convicted?
Yes, but now we are talking about sealing the records – same as with expungements, but sealed instead.
- Even if it is a felony, as opposed to a misdemeanor, can I still get it sealed?
Yes, with the same limitations as before.
- Do I lose my civil rights, if convicted of a felony?
Yes, but if you successfully get your record cleaned up, then there will be no reason to lose your rights (but remember, you only do it for one offense).
- What about the recent Florida Constitutional amendment which passed?
At the time of writing this newsletter, it has not yet been passed by the Florida legislature, although it almost certainly will be. Please note that this does not automatically restore ALL rights, but does allow the right to vote. At present it is unclear whether a petition will be required, or whether it happens automatically.
- What about the right to bear arms?
Still possible, as long as it was not a violent felony, but a lot more complicated.