Criminal Record Sealing in Tampa
If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense, there’s a mark on your record. Unfortunately, your public record is visible to many people. Even if your case is dismissed, an arrest may show up on a background check. That can hurt your job search, your house hunt, or anything that might require a background check.
Fortunately, you may have an opportunity to seal or expunge your record in Tampa.
Criminal record sealing may be your best option, but you need to know what a sealed record means for you and your future. Fortunately, a lawyer from Hersem Law can help. If you’re not sure where to start, seek out the guidance an experienced attorney can provide.
Requirements to Seal Your Record
In Florida, you can do two things to clear your record: record sealing and expungement. If you have your record sealed, your records are removed from public view. If you have your record expunged, your records are completely destroyed.
It’s important to note that you only get to go through this process one time, and you’re not eligible for either option if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime.
To qualify for record sealing, you have to have a “withhold of adjudication.” This means you received a special sentence for a particular charge in which you were not formally convicted but might have been sentenced to probation or just a fine. These are commonly given to first-time offenders.
To qualify for expungement in Florida, the judge or state attorney must have dismissed your case or you must have gotten a not-guilty finding at a jury trial.
Both expungement and record sealing have potentially big benefits for you. When successful, both processes allow you to legally deny or fail to mention that the arrest or charge ever happened. Keep in mind, however, that there are certain exceptions to this rule. For more information, please contact an attorney at Hersem Law.
Applying for Record Sealing
To get your record sealed or expunged in Tampa, you’ll need to prepare your application. Your lawyer can help you gather all the necessary information, such as the dates of your arrest and the charges. Keep in mind, though, that not all charges can be sealed. Certain offenses, like sexual misconduct, cannot be removed from your record, so speak to your Tampa lawyer before you get started.
After that, you may be eligible to seal your record if you weren’t convicted of any of those charges. You’ll need to include this information, the remaining paperwork, and your processing fee. Once you and your lawyer gather this information, you’ll file your application to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), and then you will receive a Certificate of Eligibility. The final step is to file a Petition to the Court and then, if approved, your government record will be sealed.
The expungement process used to take five to seven months, but because the FDLE is experiencing a backlog of six to seven months, the process now takes closer to a year. Of course, the amount of time will vary for each case, and Hersem Law can give you a better idea of how long your expungement or record sealing might take when you give us a call.
Defending Yourself Before a Conviction
Unfortunately, getting your record sealed isn’t an option for everyone. Additionally, your case is up to the court to decide. So, even if you’re eligible for a sealed record, you might still not receive it. If your charge or arrest happened in the past and you’re looking to start fresh, seeking a sealed record or expungement is still likely to be a good option for you. But if you’re currently facing a criminal charge, you’ll need to focus on how your case is resolved so you can have the best options left open to you in the future.
If you are convicted of your current charge, then sealing or expunging your criminal record will no longer be allowed and you’ll be stuck with the long-term personal effects of your conviction. Fortunately, your Tampa attorney can help. When you’re ready to build your defense, Hersem Law can defend you in court.
Speak to a Tampa Criminal Attorney About Record Sealing
Criminal record sealing in Tampa can help you protect your future, but where are you supposed to start? Start by calling a qualified and experienced attorney at our firm.
Getting your record sealed may be easier with a lawyer from Hersem Law. Ready to get started? Sign up for your free strategy session, where we can discuss your case and your options for getting your record sealed in Tampa. To begin, call 813-251-7291 or complete the online form at the bottom of the page.