Questions about criminal or felony records in Florida

  • How long does a felony stay on your record in Florida?
  • Can I remove an eviction from my record?
  • What is the best way to get an arrest expunged?
  • How can I clean up my criminal record so I can get a job?
  • Can I hide my criminal record to purchase a gun?
  • Are criminal records ever truly expunged?
  • Can I get a record expunged from a different country?
  • Can I get my records expunged from a different state?
  • Do I need a lawyer to petition the court?
  • Is there a local attorney that specializes in sealing and expunged records?
  • What is the difference between sealed and expunged records?
  • How long does it take to get a record sealed or expunged in Florida

What is sealing  a record in Florida?

Record sealing is the practice of sealing or destroying court records that would otherwise be publicly accessible as public records. The term is derived from the tradition of placing a seal on specified files or documents that prevents anyone from reviewing the files without a court order according to Wikipedia.

The distinction on record sealing is that the record is not available to the public but may be available to law enforcement or through a court order. A sealed record will not show up on typical background checks for employment. The exceptions are certain state or legal entities such as the Department of Children and Family Services, or the Department of Education.

The requirements for sealing records are less stringent than the expunging or destroying of records. Sealing is often used for juvenile records, witness protection, trade secrets, and state secrets. Records of eviction may be sealed easier than they can be expunged making it easier to rent a new property.

What is expunging a record in Florida?

Expungement is the physical destruction or complete erasure of a criminal record and can be more complicated to obtain. There is no legal or physical record of a criminal offense when the record is expunged.

With expungement on can state under oath that they have never been convicted before according to Wikipedia!

Section 943.0585 of Florida Statutes outlines requirements for court-ordered expunction of criminal records and eligibility.  It is complicated. If in doubt as to whether you should contact a lawyer that specializes in sealing and expunging this should erase the doubt.  

The process for sealing and expunging is complicated and can take several months to a year or more to get through the system. It is necessary to first get a Certificate of Eligibility to petition for relief to the court that has jurisdiction over the arrest. This is only the first step and no guarantee that a criminal history record will be sealed or expunged.

Even after the court-ordered sealing or expungement the arresting agency or prosecutor can petition for the expungement to be voided. An experienced attorney will follow the case through the process to ensure that the records are eventually sealed or expunged. The original records could exist in numerous places and it will take time to track those records down and follow the court’s directions.

What criminal offenses cannot be sealed or expunged?

The offenses are too long to list here. Seek legal advice to be sure. There are always circumstances that may or may not create an exception. Arrest records but not convicted of the crime is the reason for sealing and expunging. Once convicted or having multiple convictions makes it extremely difficult for Florida expunging.

Here are some offenses that won’t qualify for sealing or expunging. 

Crimes of sexual nature and involving violence cannot be sealed or expunged in Florida.

  • Drug trafficking
  • Carjacking
  • Sexual Battery
  • Kidnapping
  • Arson
  • Robbery
  • Human Trafficking


This article is not meant to be exclusive and answer all the questions concerning sealing and expunging criminal records in Florida. It is complicated. The following link includes additional

frequently asked questions. The positive result of a quest for sealing and expunging records in Florida is too important for a do-it-yourself approach. One mistake can result in very negative consequences. Contact Edward Panzica, an experienced criminal defense attorney, to help you sort out the complicated process and reach a positive outcome.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has a web page with frequently asked questions about the seal and expunge process.

Contact use directly if you have questions at 727-588-0966

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