If you are ever arrested – even if you never go to trial or get convicted of a crime – you now have a criminal record. This record stays with you for life and can create many barriers to achieving goals in the future. But it doesn’t have to. There are options under the law to erase your criminal record through a process called expunction.
What is expunction?
When you have an offense expunged from your criminal record, you essentially wipe the slate clean. Expunction makes it as though the offense never occurred, and it gives you a fresh start.
Why does it matter?
Offenses on your criminal record don’t eventually expire on their own; they follow you around forever. This holds true for all offenses – regardless of whether or not you were found guilty. If you were found not guilty, if your charges were dismissed or even if you were arrested but never charged, you still have a criminal record.
Your criminal record is publicly available. It will show up anytime anyone does a background check on you. In some cases, all it requires is a simple Google search. If potential employers, landlords or lenders discover your criminal record, it could affect their chances of offering you a job, letting you rent an apartment or letting you take out a loan.
The only way to remove an offense from your record is to apply for expunction. Not all offenses qualify for expunction, but most non-violent offenses in Florida can be expunged.
If the offenses on your criminal record are eligible for expunction, it is worth your time to go through this process. It can be lengthy and sometimes complicated, but an attorney experienced in expunction can help walk you through it.