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Expungement: Your options in Florida

Expungement is a process during which your criminal conviction is sealed from state and federal records or destroyed completely. The purging of a criminal record can help you in many ways, making it easier for you to find work and to have a clear reputation when you apply for rental properties or student loans through the government.

Expungement helps people who can show that enough time has passed since the qualifying offense or that they've been cleared of the offense. For instance, if you are convicted but later prove that you were not guilty, it's possible to get your record expunged, in most cases

Is an expungement the same as having sealed records?

In some ways yes, but it is better. Expungement means that your criminal background is completely eliminated, making it no longer a factor in your life. Comparatively, sealing your record will remove your past offenses from the public domain, but the courts and authorities may still have access. The public, like employers, may not have access to your past criminal record, but the courts could if you reoffend.

How does expungement affect you in the future?

Once you have a past crime expunged from your record, it means that you will not have to disclose your past charges or conviction on any future documents. For instance, if you apply for a job, you won't have to state that you were once convicted of a DUI or that you were in jail for a period of time.

In the majority of cases, you won't have an expunged arrest or conviction come up on a background check. The most common time for the past records to come up is during a criminal records search by government agencies. Keep in mind that an expunged conviction may still be used as proof that you had a prior conviction, so if this is your second or third offense, it will still show as such.

Whether or not you can obtain an expungement comes down to a number of factors like how much time has passed and if the crime was violent. Depending on where you were convicted, you may not be able to get an expungement. For instance, crimes committed in New York aren't able to be expunged, but Florida does allow for expungement of certain crimes. This is something to consider if you have been convicted in the past.

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