Record Sealing & Expungements
In Florida, the public has access to your criminal history records. These records are created not only if you are convicted, but also if you have simply been arrested and fingerprinted. The record will include the disposition of the arrest, whether you have been convicted or acquitted, and whether the charges have been dismissed. If your criminal record has adversely impacted your ability to get employment or secure housing, you should talk to an experienced Palm Beach Gardens criminal defense attorney about your options. Depending upon the circumstances, you may be able to ask the court to expunge or seal your criminal record.
I am attorney William Wallshein. I have 29 years of experience aggressively representing individuals in Palm Beach Gardens and the surrounding South Florida communities. Having spent five years as a state prosecutor, I can use my unique insight into the law enforcement process to develop sound legal defense strategies for my clients.Expungement Versus Sealing Your Records
Under Florida Statutes §§ 943.0585 and 943.059, you must meet specific criteria in order to be eligible for criminal record to be sealing or expungement. Among the criteria is the requirement that you be able to attest that you haven't previously had a record sealed or expunged. This requirement applies not only to your Florida record, but also to your record in other jurisdictions. In effect, this means that you can only seal or expunge your Florida record during one proceeding; it is important to be aware that if you are arrested in the future, you will not be able to seal or expunge your record again.
If I represent you in these areas, I will explain the requirements for both types of relief, and advise you as to whether it is wise to petition for expungement or record sealing. You may be eligible for record expungement if you were found not guilty of a criminal charge, or if the criminal charge was dismissed and you don't have other prior convictions. On the other hand, you may be eligible to seal a case if you received a "withhold of a conviction," and your criminal record doesn't contain other criminal convictions.
If your criminal history record is sealed, the public will no longer have access to it. However, certain governmental entities will continue to have access to the sealed record in its entirety. In contrast, if your record is expunged, the entities that have access to a sealed record will be able to learn that the record has been expunged, but they will have to obtain a court order to look at the actual record.
The first step toward obtaining relief is to apply to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for a Certificate of Eligibility. The certificate does not guarantee sealing or expungement. However, if it is granted, the certificate will show that you can move forward and petition the court for an expungement or a sealing of criminal records. Whether to grant your petition is within the court's discretion.Let Me Help You Protect Your Future
An experienced Palm Beach Gardens criminal defense lawyer can help you take steps to keep your past run-ins with the law as confidential as possible. Over the years, I have handled many expungements and record sealing matters. Come to my firm for honest advice and effective advocacy. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact me via my online form or by calling 561-533-1221. I can meet with you at my office in Palm Beach Gardens near I-95 and PGA Boulevard, or at my second location in West Palm Beach. I accept credit cards.