A criminal conviction can affect finding a new job or getting an apartment. Even criminal charges without a conviction can haunt you as you try to move forward with your life. One way to put the past behind you is to take the necessary steps to have your record expunged.
In Florida, the sealment and expungement processes are very complicated. Furthermore, not everyone is eligible to have his or her records sealed. A simple mistake in filling out paperwork could cause you to be disqualified. A Pensacola attorney with criminal defense experience can help you navigate the process in order to get your life back on track.
Cleaning up your criminal record
When you successfully have your records expunged, generally an arrest or conviction will no longer appear on your criminal record. This means that the next time you are applying for a job you do not have to check the box on the application indicating you received a conviction or charge for a criminal act. For the most part, no one that performs a background check on you will see any evidence of the incident on your criminal record.
Gone but not erased
Once your charge or conviction is sealed, there are only certain agencies that will be able to see it. For example, law enforcement officials and criminal courts will be able to access the information. This means that if the court charges you with another offense, the prosecution might use your sealed record as proof of your previous act.
The number one factor in figuring out if you are eligible for an expungement is the jurisdiction that has precedence over the offense. The court will take into consideration the severity and type of crime you committed. In addition, the judge will look at how much time passed between your arrest or conviction before you applied for the expungement. Your criminal history will also play a role in determining whether you qualify.
Sealment vs. expungement
There is a difference between having your records sealed versus having them expunged. If you have your criminal record sealed, it is still not available to the public. This means that potential employers or lenders will not be able to see it. However, if you are ever arrested again, a sealed record will be considered a prior offense. For example, if you have driving under the influence on your record that is sealed, if the court charges you with a DUI at a later date, you will be a repeat offender.
A criminal record can make getting things back on track very difficult. If you have a criminal conviction or charge that is making it hard for you to get a new job or move forward with your life, you may qualify for a sealment or expungement.