Seal Or Expunge? Which Action Is Better For Clearing An Arrest From My Record?

By Jonathan Rose PA | Federal Criminal Defense

An arrest is a scary thing for any person unlucky enough to be in that situation. Between the intimidating interactions with police and the fear of a criminal conviction, any person accused of criminal conduct can be eager to just put the entire situation behind them.

However, even if you aren’t convicted, putting an arrest behind you isn’t as easy as you might think. This is because an arrest can stay on your record and continue to jeopardize your life indefinitely when it appears on background checks completed by employers, landlords and various government agencies. In order to avoid this, you need to have the record sealed or expunged.

It may not matter to you if your record is sealed or expunged, as long it is no longer publicly available information. However, in the eyes of the law, there are differences between record sealing and expunging.

Sealing a record

A sealed record means that it is no longer visible to the public. Certain agencies, on the other hand, can still see details of the arrest. These parties include prosecutors in a criminal case against you, licensed gun manufacturers, firearm licensing services, and various government agencies with whom you are seeking employment.

Expunging a record

If you have your record expunged, not only can the public not see your record, the above-mentioned government agencies cannot see it either. They can see that the record has been expunged, but they will need to secure a court’s permission to view the details of the record.

Getting the record cleared

Whether you want your record sealed or expunged, understand that it is not going to happen automatically. Further, there are numerous requirements that must be fulfilled. For instance, certain charges cannot be sealed or expunged; only one arrest record can be expunged or sealed; fees must be paid and applications must be submitted.

Having your record sealed or expunged in Florida can be an effective way to keep an arrest in the past from continuing to damage your future. However, it is a legally complex process that benefits from a familiarity with the legal system. Because of this, it can be wise to consult an attorney if you have any questions about having your record cleared.

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