Expungement v. Sealing

If you or someone you know has a criminal record it can be difficult to find a nice place to live, a decent job, or even get a loan. In today’s world, employers, landlords, and businesses administer background checks on potential employees, tenants, and even customers to ensure quality candidates are obtained. The expungement or sealing of a criminal act may help you get a second chance at life.

What is the difference between expungement and the sealing of a criminal record?
There is a difference between expungement and the sealing of a record. In most basic terms, having your record expunged, completely removes the criminal accusation from your record like a legal eraser. Notice the use of the word “accusation.” An expungement is only allowed if you were not convicted of the crime and only if you were accused and the charges were dropped.

The sealing of a criminal record removes your information from government databases which the general public can use to request a background check. However, law enforcement, federal, state, county, and city agencies may still have a legal right to access your information even if your record has been sealed.

Did you know you can only expunge/seal a record once in your lifetime?
Yes, it is true. You must keep in mind that you may only seal or expunge once in your lifetime in the State of Florida. If you have been convicted of something like a petit theft you may want to save these legal tools for later in life for a more serious crime should you need it.

Something to keep in mind.
There was a time you could expunge or seal your record, and for the most part, no one in the public would ever stumble upon your run-in with the law. However, in this digital age, the expungement or sealing of your record may not completely do the trick. There are many private companies who obtain information for their own business purposes, news outlets, online publications, or the like, who can potentially still possess your criminal history.

If you do have a criminal past that is prohibiting you from moving on in life, sealing or expunging your record may be the correct way to proceed. Contact one of our lawyers for a free consultation to explore your options in cleaning up a criminal record.

Categories: Criminal Law, Articles, FAQ