Expungement, or Sealing of a record, is commonly misunderstood by the unknowing public, “the case was dropped, it’s off my/your/his/her record”
The Myth of expungement in Florida revolves, in part, around programs like “diversion”, “Pre-Trial Intervention”, “my case was dropped” or “No Information” and any other term or coined phrase that indicates a favorable disposition of an arrest (including a written arrest, also known as an NTA or Notice to Appear).
The reality of expungement (or lack thereof) is both harmful and hurtful when a person buys into the myth and fails to do their research, or the attorney fails to inform a defendant (their client) that any arrest stays on your record regardless of disposition.
Moreover, here in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, we have received hundreds of calls from unfortunately uninformed people, who call our office after their dream career job is lost because they are accused of lying on a job application. I hear these stories nearly every week, “No one ever told me, I thought it was off my record”. Wrong.
It’s sad that the separate proceeding of Seal or Expunge (depending on which you qualify for) is so misunderstood. First, there is no such thing as “automatically off my record”.
Although many in the criminal justice system here in Florida (attorneys excluded) have no concept that in order to clear your record, you are required to go through a civil proceeding and required to get a Certificate of Eligibility from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement here in Tallahassee. One must then provide a certified fingerprint card, and after other processing of forms and checklists, a civil petition must be filed with a Circuit Civil Court. THEN you must receive a court order before something is off your record.
Don’t fall prey to the “MYTH of EXPUNGEMENT.” Unless you have a court order issued in civil court: IT’S ON YOUR RECORD.
It is never too late to contact our office and get that derogatory information off of your record, if you qualify. So very many persons have simple charges and go through life not knowing the long reaching and negative impacts of having even a simple possession of alcohol or some other charge on his or her record.