seal and expunge

Seal Criminal Records – Expunge Criminal Records

St. Petersburg / Clearwater Lawyers who can Clear Your Record

Permanent public records exist that outline the details of your Pinellas County criminal case. These records are maintained by the police agency who initiated the investigation, the State Attorney’s Office, the Clerk of Court, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Department of Corrections, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. NCIC and FCIC “Rap-sheets” are also available that make the information about your arrest easily accessible. You may be eligible to seal criminal records.

Common Misconceptions

  • Your participation in the Pinellas County State Attorney’s Office P.T.I. Program or the Domestic Violence Intervention Program may have resulted in the dismissal of charges, but it did not seal or expunge your record of arrest.
  • A withhold of adjudication may have avoided a formal conviction, but all of the records associated with your case remain open for public view.
  • Even if you received a “Notice to Appear” in lieu of being booked into the jail, it is nevertheless reflected within the public records as a formal arrest.

Who Has Access to My Criminal Records?

  • Employers
  • co-workers
  • neighbors
  • credit agencies
  • colleges
  • landlords
  • licensing authorities (i.e. real estate, securities broker, mortgage/banking, health care)
  • and any other person who wants to run a background check on you, has easy access to this public information.

Does Every Employer Run a Criminal Background Check?
Getting Your Record Sealed Before Applying to College

Can Anyone Access My Criminal Records?

  • Free online information regarding your criminal case is instantly available from the Pinellas County Clerk of Court.
    Click Here to Access Online Pinellas County Criminal Court Records.
  • Certified copies of all documents associated with your criminal court case are available to anyone who visits or writes to the Pinellas County Clerk of Court.
    Click Here for More Information on Obtaining Certified Copies of Documents Related to Your Criminal Court Case.
  • Criminal history arrest records are available to inquiring members of the public through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The (FDLE), Division of Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS), is the central repository for criminal history information for the state of Florida. In addition to maintaining criminal history information, it is the responsibility of FDLE under Florida law to provide public access to this data. Inquiring members of the public have easy access to the FDLE “criminal records check” website ordering page. There is a nominal $23.00 administrative fee that is paid by inputting your credit card information. Within moments, the FDLE site then displays the sought after criminal history record background check. Those persons who lack a major credit card can still gain access to the criminal arrest history by mailing a check or money order along with a completed “Criminal History Request Information Form” to:

Florida Department of Law Enforcement
User Services Bureau
Criminal History Services
P.O. Box 1489
Tallahassee, FL 32302

How Does a Sealing or Expungement of my Criminal Records Protect Me?

When the Pinellas County Circuit Court grants a petition to seal criminal records, a certified copy of that court order is sent to the following governmental agencies directing them to immediately remove from public view or physically destroy their records:

  • Pinellas County Clerk of Court
  • Pinellas County State Attorney’s Office
  • The Law Enforcement Agency that arrested You
  • The Florida Department of Law Enforcement
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation

What is the Legal Effect of Sealing or Expunging My Criminal Records?

With a few limited exceptions, you may thereafter truthfully state that you were never arrested, charged, or accused of a crime. In the eyes of the law, the entire incident never occurred. In most respects, a sealing or expungement restores you to the status you occupied before being arrested or charged. It makes all of the official federal, state and local government information about your case non-existent to inquiring members of the public, licensing authorities, landlords, and employers running background checks.

Although the Florida Legislature values the public’s right to open information about criminal cases, it also recognizes the importance of providing individuals (who were not adjudicated guilty) with the opportunity to move on with their life. The sealing or expungement of their criminal records frees them from the stigma of their arrest and can be instrumental in facilitating rehabilitation and a law abiding life. As one court wrote: “The policy of public access to old records must be weighed against the long-standing public policy of providing a second chance to criminal defendants who have not been adjudicated guilty.” State v. D.H.W., 686 So.2d 1331, 1334 (Fla.1996).

Criminal Records from the St. Petersburg / Clearwater / Pinellas County Area? We Can Help!

  • We can often determine your eligibility to seal records over the phone or by email. (You can send an email by clicking the “Ask a Lawyer” button on the right hand side of this website page.)
  • If, after our review, we determine that you are eligible to seal or expunge your records, we will send you a retainer contract and expedite the filing of all necessary documents to begin the process.
  • It will be necessary for you to sign and return to us a document that confirms the limited nature of your involvement with the criminal justice system and the fact that you have never previously secured a prior sealing or expungement.

Call Us for a Free Consultation at: (727) 578-0303

The cost of a sealing or expungement may be less than you think. In most cases, this remedy can be secured without the need for you to make further court appearances.

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