The Law Office of Tampa's Criminal Attorney
Tampa, FL


Tampa Criminal Lawyer


Today, it is harder than ever to find the right job, apartment, or education, if you have a prior criminal record. A prior criminal case will surely appear on routine background checks done by employers, landlords, and educational institutions. How embarrassing would it be if your child’s school ran a background check before allowing you to chaperone a school outing and discovered that old shoplifting, or marijuana charge from years ago. Just try to rent an apartment or a home, or to by a gun, after a background check turns up that old domestic violence charge that was dismissed. You may have been led to believe that a cases was somehow “taken off” of your record, but, that is simply not true. Unless and until you have your record formally sealed or expunged, the record of that prior crime will remain on your criminal record forever, no matter what anyone told you. Apart from juvenile offenses, there is no “automatic” sealing or expungement of criminal records in Florida. Even having a charge dropped or dismissed does not mean that it is automatically “removed” from your records.

Do not let one mistake punish and embarrass you forever. It may be possible to seal or expunge the records of your prior Florida criminal case. Whether your particular case is eligible for sealing or expungement is governed by the criteria found in the Florida Statutes and the Rules of Criminal Procedure. Generally, you may seal or expunge only one case in a lifetime, regardless of how much time has passed. However, if you were arrested on a felony charge, and the case was later reduced to a misdemeanor, you may well be able to have both cases or arrests sealed or expunged because they arose from the same arrest or incident.

To qualify for sealing or expungement, the applicant must have no prior convictions for any crime, anytime, or anywhere. If you are uncertain whether you were actually convicted of a crime, you should call me for a free consultation. A person with even one prior conviction, regardless of how long ago, will not be permitted to seal or expunge a record in Florida. However, do not assume that you are ineligible simply because you had a prior case where you pled guilty or no contest. Pleading guilty or no contest has nothing to do with whether the judge withheld the adjudication of guilt in your case. Yes, I realize that is very confusing. If you have a prior offense and are uncertain whether you were adjudicated guilty, please call for a free consultation to discuss your situation.

The law does not allow the sealing or expungement of certain specific offenses. For those offenses, unless the charge was dropped or dismissed, you will not be able to seal or expunge it. However, even if your crime is listed below, if the adjudication of guilt was withheld, you may be eligible to seal or expunge a different case.

Cases that do not qualify for sealing or expunction are those under the following Florida Statutes and section numbers:

If your case is not listed above, and you have no prior convictions, then you may be eligible to seal or expunge your case. If you will call me, I will be happy to discuss your situation and determine whether you are eligible for a sealing or expunction.