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4 Red Flags to Avoid When Applying for Sealing or Expunction

When you apply to have your criminal record sealed or expunged, the Florida Division of Law Enforcement (FDLE) will require you submit a certified copy of the disposition of charges you are trying to seal or expunge, in addition to a fingerprint card, with your application and processing fee. FDLE will then look at the nature of the charges to determine if they are appropriate for sealing or expunction; FDLE will also conduct a criminal background check to determine if you have ever been convicted prior to the date of application. Not everyone is granted a sealing or expunction; many are denied. Here are 4 reasons why your application may be denied.

  1. You have a prior conviction on your criminal record.

In order to qualify for sealing or expunction, you cannot have a conviction on your record. This means that a court cannot have adjudicated you guilty of the charges against you. The prior conviction does not have to be in Florida; it could have occurred in another state. Regardless of where the conviction occurred, if it is on your record, you will not be approved to seal or expunge your record.

  1. You had a prior charge sealed or expunged in Florida.

Sealing or expunction is a one-time deal—once you have a charge sealed or expunged, you cannot do it again for a different charge. However, effective July 1, 2013, an exception to this rule was created: if your prior sealing or expunction occurred in a state other than Florida, it will not disqualify you from obtaining a sealing or expunction in Florida. In addition, if you have an application for sealing or expunction pending, your application will be denied.

  1. The supervision or conditions applicable to the charges you are trying to seal or expunge have not been completed.

For example, you were charged with petit theft and you were placed on a pretrial intervention (PTI) program. You must complete all the conditions of PTI prior to applying for sealing or expunction; otherwise, your request will be denied.

  1. The charges you are trying to seal or expunge disqualifying offenses.

You may refer to  907.041, Florida Statutes, for a list of disqualifying offenses. Such offenses include, but are not limited to:

  • Sex Offenses
  • Kidnapping or False Imprisonment
  • Crimes Against Children
  • Voyeurism
  • Fraud
  • Drug Trafficking
  • Domestic Violence
  • Acts of Terrorism
  • Robbery
  • Murder/Manslaughter
  • Arson
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Aggravated Battery
  • Stalking/Aggravated Stalking
  • Elder Abuse
  • Aircraft Piracy
  • Burglary of a Dwelling
  • Carjacking
  • Illegal Use of Explosives

Many people who have a criminal record seek to have it either sealed or expunged. It is important to know how to apply, but it is also important to know why your application may be denied. If you choose to apply, make sure that (1) your application is complete; (2) the case, and all required conditions, is completely disposed; (3) you have no prior convictions on your record, and you have not had any prior charges sealed or expunged in Florida; and (4) the charges you are trying to seal or expunge are qualifying offenses.