Law Office of William B. Wynne
2501 Orient Rd., Suite D
Tampa, FL 33619
Office: (813) 532-5057
If you are interested in expungement in Florida, contact Florida expungement lawyer William B. Wynne today to discuss your options. Mr. Wynne has successfully represented over 200 clients through the process of expunging and sealing their records, throughout counties all over the state of Florida. He accepts cases in all Florida counties. If your criminal history record originated in Florida, Mr. Wynne can help you expunge or seal it.
The expungement and/or sealing of records in Florida is a long and complicated legal process. Most people find that hiring a Florida expungement attorney gives them peace of mind, and saves money, time, and frustration. In fact, many people are eventually forced to hire an attorney after unsuccessfully attempting to expunge a record in Florida on their own. The Law Office of William B. Wynne does everything possible to ensure the process is done correctly and as quickly as possible.
Despite popular opinion, a criminal arrest record does not simply disappear over time. It does not matter if the charges were dropped or if you were acquitted at trial. Every time a person is arrested and fingerprinted, a criminal record is created. And the fact that you were arrested or charged with a criminal law violation will remain a public record permanently unless a judge orders it to be sealed or expunged. In fact, a simple FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) background check will uncover any criminal court records. Even without a conviction, a criminal record can cause people serious problems with employment, housing, and other important areas.
In today’s modern age of high-speed information, it is becoming increasingly popular and economically viable for both public and private parties to conduct FDLE background checks. To make matters worse, anyone with a computer or a smartphone can easily access mugshots online and search public court records—that often include detailed arrest reports. These reasons underscore the value and importance of expungement in Florida. If you are seeking to expunge a record in Florida contact our office today to speak with a Florida expungement lawyer. We offer free consultations.
The first thing (and the most important thing) to be determined, is eligibility. Do you qualify for expungement or sealing in Florida? Sadly, most of the clients that contact our office to inquire about the service, are not eligible for expungement or sealing. While determining eligibility is sometimes simple, it can also be ambiguous, and complex. An accurate assessment of eligibility often requires legal knowledge, and familiarity with court records and other legal documents. Many cases are not cut and dry, which is why it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced Tampa expungement lawyer.
For starters, you are only entitled to one (1) Florida court-ordered exungement or sealing. That is, you can only expunge or seal your Florida record once. This does not apply to out-of-state expungement or sealing. So if you had a record expunged or sealed in another state, you can breathe easy; it will not (by itself) disqualify you.
The FDLE Background Check: Additionally, if you have ever been convicted of a crime in Florida (even less serious offenses like driving with a suspended license or trespassing) you will not be eligible for expungement or sealing, and your application will be denied. When you apply for a certificate of eligibility, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will conduct a background check. The FDLE background check will uncover any prior convictions in the state of Florida. To put it simply, you cannot have any prior criminal convictions. Again, there is an out-of-state exception, thanks to a recent change in the law. Therefore, a criminal conviction from another state, will not (by itself) disqualify you.
Exungement and Sealing are remarkably similar in that they achieve generally the same outcome. Which is to remove your record from public view and allow you to deny its existence. The process of expungement is governed by section 943.0585 of the Florida Statutes. 943.0585, Fla. Stat. (2019). In contrast, the process of Sealing criminal records is governed by section 943.059 of the Florida Statutes. 943.059, Fla. Stat. (2019).
The first primary difference involves what happens to your records after expungement or sealing. Having your record sealed means that a judge will order your criminal record to be sealed and kept private. This makes it inaccessible to the public generally, which includes future employers, background searches, educational institutions, and others.
On the other hand, expungement is the process in which your record is physically destroyed or obliterated, and therefore kept confidential from the public. But there is a caveat: one copy of your criminal record is kept by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement—which is only accessible to law enforcement agencies. Certain parties can still be informed that the record was expunged but will not have access to the actual physical record.
The next significant difference between the two, are the eligibility requirements. A criminal record can be expunged when it was dismissed or dropped, or if charges were never officially filed—known as a “no information.” On the other hand, a criminal record can be sealed, if adjudication was withheld, and if it is not included in a list of crimes forbidden under Florida law, as provided in section 943.0584 of the Florida Statutes—another trap to look out for. 943.0584, Fla. Stat. (2019). See the list at the bottom of this page. To put it simply, expungement is typically for when the charges are dismissed. If, on the other hand, you entered a plea of “guilty” or “no-contest,” but were not convicted, sealing would be appropriate.
As previously discussed, expunging or sealing a criminal record in Florida is a long, complex legal process. An experienced Florida expungement lawyer can guide you through this process, and make sure everything is done expeditiously and correctly. The first step is determining eligibility. This is usually done during our initial consultation and involves a careful examination of the specific case (or cases) you are seeking to expunge or seal, along with an examination of your entire criminal history. If you are seeking an expungement (as opposed to a sealing) the application will need to be sent to the State Attorney’s Office for approval. Sealing applicants can skip this step. Next, we apply for eligibility through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will conduct their own internal FDLE background check. After receiving a certificate of eligibility from the FDLE, we then petition the court to seal or expunge your arrest record. Once this process is complete, and your record is officially expunged, you may lawfully deny or fail to acknowledge anything having to do with the criminal case, with a few limited exceptions, as provided by Florida law. 943.0585(4)(a), Fla. Stat. (2019).
If you are eligible, expunging or sealing your record will prevent others from discriminating against you based on your criminal history. It goes without saying, that expungement or sealing is a wonderful tool that can brighten your future, open employment opportunities, and restore your reputation and standing in the community. As a Florida expungement lawyer, William B. Wynne takes pride in helping clients free themselves from the burden of a prior criminal record.
Sealing and expungement will result in your criminal court records being kept from public inquiry. Once a judge signs an order to expunge or seal a criminal case, certified copies of that order are then forwarded to all agencies that may have collected and/or retained criminal records relating to the case. Typically, this includes, the county sheriff, the State Attorney’s Office, the arresting agency, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and others. All these institutions are legally obligated to comply with the laws of expungement and sealing. Unfortunately, private parties cannot be legally compelled to remove or destroy records that they lawfully possess—a topic that perhaps deserves its own section or article.
As previously stated, one of the major benefits of having your record expunged, is that you can lawfully deny (or fail to acknowledge) the criminal arrest. This is essentially giving you a free pass to lie about your criminal history. Unfortunately, there are some limitations regarding who you can lie to, and under what circumstances. There are certain circumstances that will require you to disclose the existence and nature of the criminal record, even though it was expunged or sealed. Some examples include candidates for admission to the Florida Bar, and those seeking employment with a criminal justice agency. These are known as exceptions to the rule of disclosure. For more on this topic, see our blog post covering the basics of expungement and sealing in Florida.
“An experienced Florida expungement lawyer can help you through this complicated legal process, and make sure everything is done expeditiously and correctly.”
The following is a list of crimes that cannot be sealed, even if adjudication is withheld. 943.0584, Fla. Stat. (2020).
Note: DUI charges are not on the list above. However, under Florida law, a judge may not withhold adjudication of guilt on Florida DUI charges, so they cannot be sealed nonetheless.
The Law Office of William B. Wynne provides expungement and sealing services throughout the entire state of Florida. Attorney William B. Wynne is an experienced and knowledgeable Florida Expungement Lawyer that has successfully handled hundreds of cases. If you are interested in expungement or sealing in Florida, contact us today for a free consultation. Our office is located in Tampa, Florida.