Having a criminal record can prevent you from enjoying certain opportunities and privileges in life. Depending upon the charges, your previous charges may be preventing you from renting a home or apartment, enrolling in school, being hired for certain positions, and possibly even being denied the opportunity to chaperone school trips or coach little league for your kids. The law understands, however, that often it is the case that people make mistakes and learn from them, and expungement is a way to put those mistakes behind you once and for all. If your prior criminal record is getting in the way of your forward progress, contact a Tampa criminal attorney at Tampa Defense Law to find out if your charges qualify for expungement under Florida law.
The most basic definition of expungement means, simply, to remove or destroy records. This definition may be deceiving, however, in that criminal records that are sealed or expunged, though no longer available through general records, do remain accessible to the criminal justice system—the Florida Bar, the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Florida Board of Education, law enforcement, and perhaps a few other circumstances. Private or public entities, however, will not be able to access your record, which is helpful in the above-listed circumstances: housing, education, work, volunteerism.
Some criminal records are not eligible for expungement, so it’s necessary to review the situation with a Tampa defense attorney before you attempt the process. The Tampa Defense Law team of criminal attorneys has ample experience with expungement under Florida law and can guide your decisions, as well as execute the necessary documents to move forward with expungement if your charges qualify. Also bear in mind that even if you currently live in Florida, expungement eligibility will be based on the laws governing the state or jurisdiction in which the charge originated.
Typically—though again, each state varies—requirements for expungement will involve most or all of the following to qualify: a waiting period after the incident and no incidents during that time; a limited number of prior incidents (as determined by each particular state’s laws); a charge that isn’t deemed too severe; the terms of any sentence or penalties were sufficiently fulfilled; no pending proceedings; that you were not convicted for the incident; and that probation, if applicable, was completed without incident. If you meet the requirements as set forth by the state of Florida, your criminal attorney will ensure that you are prepared with the appropriate documentation for your expungement hearing in Tampa court.
As mentioned, the severity of the crime is also taken into account when it comes to eligibility, and the most common crimes that are not eligible include felonies, first-degree misdemeanors, rape, sexual battery, corruption of a minor, sexual imposition, and obscenity or pornography involving a child. In some jurisdictions, limits on certain records do not exist; it is dependent upon the guidelines set by the state. You will need a criminal defense attorney who is experienced with expungements to help you navigate the many and complex guidelines that apply to your case.
Though an individual may attempt to represent themselves in an expungement proceeding, in Florida it is highly advisable to have a Tampa criminal defense lawyer guide you and prepare your case. Tampa Defense Law has nine offices in Florida who offer 100 years combined experience among their team of winning defense attorneys. Call to schedule a free consultation to learn more about your expungement options.