A criminal record is a heavy burden to bear. Whenever someone with a record applies for a job, home loan, auto loan, or even college, their record comes up in a background check. Potential managers or lawyers can even see misdemeanors or arrests without convictions. These records can have devastating effects on a person’s life.

Thankfully, people have options. Florida law allows citizens to expunge, or erase, parts of their criminal record. How does the process work?

The expungement process

Florida law allows expungement in limited circumstances, like misdemeanors and juvenile crimes. Floridians may apply for expungement in the following cases:

  • Arrest, no conviction: Those arrested for a crime but never convicted can apply to have the arrest expunged from their record. This circumstance is among the most common cases for expungement.
  • Case dismissed/acquitted/found not guilty: If one’s case did not render a guilty verdict, that individual can apply for expungement.
  • Juvenile diversion: Florida allows minors who commit misdemeanors to complete an authorized juvenile diversion program instead of traditional punishment. Successful completion results in expungement.
  • Automatic juvenile expungement: Minors may be eligible to have their criminal records expunged at age 21 if they meet certain conditions. Primarily among these are no further arrests or convictions. Five years after the crime, if the offender is over 18, they may apply for early expungement.
  • Human trafficking: Victims of human trafficking can apply to expunge the record of any offenses committed while victimized by a human trafficking scheme.
  • Lawful self-defense: If a prosecutor or state attorney finds an offense subsequently in accordance with Florida’s provisions on justifiable use of force, a court may have the record expunged.

In all cases, if the person filing for expungement commits any other violent crimes, their entire record becomes ineligible.

Seek answers with legal counsel

A criminal record can have devastating consequences for younger people as they try to find their place in the world. Expungement offers these minors a way to escape unfortunate mistakes. Anyone with additional questions about the expungement process can find answers with a local attorney familiar with criminal defense in Florida.