Keep your background check clean.
Many people who find themselves entangled in the criminal justice system are good people who were simply in the wrong situation or just made a mistake. These people have never before been charged with a crime and wonder how it is going to affect their future.
If you find yourself in this situation, you may be eligible for a sealing or expunging of your criminal history. If your criminal history is sealed, all State agencies will prohibit the public from accessing your file and remove references to your case from their websites. If your criminal history is expunged, these State agencies will literally destroy all paperwork relating to your case and remove references to it from their website. Most importantly, you are lawfully permitted to answer “No” to the question, “have you ever been arrested or charged with a crime.” (Note that there are a few statutory exceptions to this general rule with respect to some governmental agencies).
AM I ELIGIBLE TO SEAL/EXPUNGE
To be eligible for sealing, you must not be convicted of the underlying charge. In addition, you must not have been previously convicted of any criminal offense and the underlying charge must qualify for sealing. Sealing is controlled by Florida Statute 943.059 and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement must determine your eligibility.
To be eligible to have your record expunged, the underlying charge must be dismissed. In addition, you must not have been previously convicted of any criminal offense and the underlying charge must qualify for expunction. Expunction is controlled by Florida Statute 943.0585 and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement must determine your eligibility.
EFFECT OF SEALING/EXPUNGEMENT
If your record is sealed or expunged, references to your case will be removed by the State Agencies with knowledge of the offense, such as the Monroe County Clerk of Court, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and/or the Key West Police Department.
Note, however, that there are also private websites that attempt to exploit people who have been arrested by saving their mugshots and charging a fee to remove the mugshot photo from the web. The lawyers at Robertson & Hunter, LLP have worked with these websites and found that many of these private entities will remove the mugshot with a Court Order indicating the record has been sealed or expunged. If they will not, the attorneys at Robertson & Hunter, LLP will assist you in negotiation and, if a cause of action exists, litigation to protect your reputation.