Having a criminal record can hurt your employment opportunities, interfere with securing housing, and cause many other problems. Even arrests or charges that don’t result in conviction could negatively affect several aspects of your life. Fortunately, Florida law permits individuals to seal their criminal records, under certain circumstances. While we recommend that you use an attorney to aid you through the expungement process, below we discuss how to try and handle it yourself.
Determine Your Eligibility
There are some initial requirements that determine whether you can request a court to seal your criminal record. Most importantly, you must never have been convicted of a crime. Similarly, you cannot be on parole or probation while seeking to get your record expunged. It’s important to remember that you can only request to seal your record once in Florida; thus, previously having expunged your records will automatically disqualify you. However, if these requirements are met, you can begin the application process.
Apply for a Certificate of Eligibility
Once you’ve determined that you meet the initial requirements to apply for expungement, you should apply for a Certificate of Eligibility. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will have the application documents. Make sure that you fill out and complete the form as accurately as possible.
Notarize the Application
Take your completed application to a notary public to have it notarized. You will be required to sign the form in front of the notary. After your signature is administered, the notary will officially notarize your application.
Complete a Fingerprint Form
You must attach a completed fingerprint form to your application. You can acquire this form from a number of places; you should contact your city’s police department for information on where and when to complete your fingerprint form.
Acquire a Certified Copy of Your Case’s Disposition
A certified copy of the court disposition in your case will include information regarding sentencing, plea agreements, and dismissals. You can obtain a copy from the clerk of the county in which you were charged. Be prepared to provide the clerk with specific information regarding your case to receive a certified copy.
Mail in the Entire Application
Once you’ve completed all of the above steps, mail your application, fingerprint form, certified copy of the court disposition, and a $75 check to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Depending on your specific circumstances, this may be your final step; however, some individuals will need to appear in court to argue their case.
Appear in Court
Sometimes, state attorney offices will allow you to expunge your criminal record without a court appearance, but this isn’t always the case. Oftentimes, if you a court requires you to appear in court for expungement, it means the state attorney’s office has objected to your motion. If this happens to you, it would no longer be wise to continue to seek expungement without the guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Should I File for Expungement Without Legal Representation?
Applying for a Certificate of Eligibility is typically a tedious and lengthy process. While filing for expungement without the aid of an attorney can be cheaper, the process may end without fully expunging your record. Hiring an attorney to help you through the expungement process may be the smartest course of action in the long run. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Khonsari Law Group will support you through the entire expungement process and ensure that your expungement proceedings are handled properly. Call the Khonsari Law Group today at (727) 269-5300, or contact us online, to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your eligibility to seek expungement.