Your reputation is important. When you apply for a job, buy a house, or buy a car, a criminal record can harm your prospects and hurt your credit.
One of the most frequent questions we hear from clients is whether or not they are able to seal or expunge their criminal record. If you either have something on your criminal history you wish wasn’t there, or you want to keep something from going on your permanent record, we can help. Please do not hesitate to contact us to learn what your options are.
We perform sealing or expungement services free of charge to existing clients. We’ve also put this free guide together to help guide you through the process.
Please read through the sections below to find out who is eligible to have their record sealed or expunged, the forms that must be filled out, the process, as well as the costs involved.
Step One: Sealing vs. Expunging
Many people think that sealing and expunging are really the same thing, but there are important differences between the two. Here are the differences between sealing and expunging a criminal record:
Sealing means that the criminal record still exists, it is just placed under seal where the general public can’t view it. There is a catch—certain governmental agencies can still access your record if you apply for a job or a professional license with them or are accused of a new crime. Here’s a quick list of some of the important ones:
- Any Florida Law Enforcement Agency if you apply for a job with them or are accused of a new crime
- The Florida bar if you apply for admission
- The Florida Department of Education if you are applying for a job with a school
- The Department of Insurance if you apply for a license to sell insurance
- The Florida Department of Agriculture if you apply for a concealed carry permit
Expunging means that the criminal record is erased. Most potential employers will not be able to see that you have any kind of record at all. There’s a catch, though—any Florida government agencies that would normally be able to see a sealed record would see a notation that you have a record that has been expunged if they ever looked you up. This means that if you apply for a job with that agency or a professional license, they could ask you questions about what charges you had expunged.
Step Two: Who is Eligible?
Sealing: You can apply to have a criminal record sealed as long as you have not been adjudicated guilty of any offense prior to to the record you are looking to seal. This even includes criminal traffic offenses, which means that if you were convicted of driving with a suspended license back in 1996, you are ineligible for sealing a new criminal record.
As you can imagine, there are criminal offenses which can’t be sealed. They include any sexual crimes, trafficking, or crimes of violence such as homicide, arson, kidnapping, aggravated assault or battery.
Expunging: You can expunge a criminal record if the prosecution agrees to drop the charges, or if the record has been sealed for at least 10 years.
Step Three: Filling Out the Paperwork
You must sign and date the Expungement Application in front of a notary. If you don’t know where to find a notary, you can go to your local bank office and ask for one. Some post offices and shipping supply stores have notaries available for a fee.
Certified Copy of the Case Disposition
This can be ordered from the Clerk of Courts for the county where your case took place.
You can get your fingerprint card done at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, at no charge for Hillsborough County residents. Here is a list of locations and hours:
District I – 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
14102 N. 20th Street
Tampa, FL 33613
District II – 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM
2306 N. Falkenburg Rd
Tampa, FL 33619
(813) 247- 0062
(Closed on Holidays and Weekends)
District III – 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM
7202 Gunn Highway
Tampa, FL 33625
District IV – 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM
508 33rd Street SE
Ruskin, FL 33570
Submit the Forms to the Prosecutor for Expungement
If you are seeking to have a charge expunged, you need the prosecutor’s office to complete Section B of the application. This is something we take care of for free for our existing clients, but if you want to complete the process yourself you can contact the State Attorney’s Office to find out more information.
The contact information for the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s office is:
419 N. Pierce Street
Tampa, Florida 33602
Phone: (813) 272-5400
Plant City Office:
301 North Michigan Ave. Room# 1022
Plant City, Florida 33563
Phone: (813) 757-3890
Step Four: How Much do You Pay?
Along with all the paper work and fingerprint card, you must submit a money order or cashier’s check for $75 made payable to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Help if You Need It
If you have any questions about the sealing and expunging process, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to walk you through the process.