Criminal arrests in Florida don’t fall off your record over time, even if the prosecutor dropped the charges or you received a not guilty verdict at trial. As a result, an arrest while in high school or college remains part of your permanent record, which can affect your eligibility for certain jobs, leases, mortgages and student loans. However, you can apply for sealing or expungement by a judge.
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, state statutes authorize several record expungement and sealing types. This prevents your arrest from showing up on a Florida Department of Law Enforcement background check.
Record sealing vs. expunging
By sealing records, you make the information inaccessible to the public, so potential employers, lenders and others cannot see it when they conduct a background check. However, law enforcement can still access that information. An expungement means that not only does the public not have access, but neither do state and federal law enforcement officials.
Eligibility for sealing or expunging
Some crimes qualify for sealing or expungement under certain circumstances. If you have an arrest on record for a crime but no conviction, you may have your record sealed or expunged. Victims of human trafficking who have an arrest or conviction for an obscenity offense or prostitution can petition for expungement. Documents that must accompany the petition include any documentation you may have that establishes you as a victim of human trafficking and a sworn statement attesting your eligibility for expungement or the sealing of your records.
Lawful self-defense, administrative mistakes and several other issues may make your record eligible for expungement and sealing. Juvenile offenders may qualify for specific types of expungement. Learn more about how you can clear your criminal record here.