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Benefits of Expungement or Sealing in Tampa

Guidance and Advocacy for Criminal Defendants in Tampa

As of 2018, the Tampa crime rate was 406.67 per 100,000 residents. The most commonly reported crimes in Tampa are property crimes, and the second-most reported are theft crimes. The Hillsborough County Clerk of the Circuit Court has an Expungement and Sealing Unit (ESU), which assists people with requesting the sealing or expungement of criminal history records. There are benefits to both expungement and record sealing, but these are distinct forms of relief. To find out more about these benefits, you should consult the Tampa expungement lawyers at Hanlon Law.

Benefits of Expungement or Sealing in Tampa

There are several kinds of expungement and sealing that may be available to Tampa residents. These include court-ordered expungement, record sealing, administrative expungement, automatic sealing, automatic juvenile expungement, early juvenile expungement, juvenile diversion expungement, lawful self-defense expungement, and human trafficking expungement. Each is governed by a different code section. Both court-ordered expungement and record sealing have benefits if you are trying to start over after being arrested for a crime. These are distinct procedures.

Expungement

Expungement is governed by Florida Statutes section 943.045(16). It involves the court-ordered physical destruction of your record by any criminal agency that has custody of the record. While a confidential copy of the record will stay with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) for limited purposes, the public will have no access to this copy.

Florida Statutes section 943.045 involves the sealing of a criminal history record so that it is preserved but stays secure and inaccessible to those who do not have a legal right of access to the information inside it. Basically, the criminal record is protected under court order so that the public cannot access it. However, the information and documents in the record are not obliterated and are still on file.

Denial of Prior Arrest

If an expungement attorney in Tampa helps you get your record expunged, you can deny the arrests covered by the expunged record, except under certain circumstances. For example, if you are applying for a job, other than one of the jobs excepted from this rule, and you have obtained an expungement of your record, you can deny that you were ever arrested. However, you cannot lawfully deny or fail to acknowledge the arrest if you are applying to work for a criminal justice agency, you are a defendant in a criminal prosecution, you are applying again for expungement or record sealing, you are a candidate for admission to the Florida Bar, you are seeking work with certain government departments or work that involves direct contact with elderly or disabled people or children, you are seeking to work at schools or daycares, you are seeking licensing within the Department of Financial Services, or you are seeking to be appointed as a guardian.

Outside these exceptions, if our Tampa expungement attorneys obtain this relief for you, you cannot be held under any provision of law to have committed perjury or be otherwise liable for providing a false statement because of a decision not to admit or mention an expunged criminal history record. The Department is supposed to disclose the existence of a criminal history record that has been ordered expunged to certain entities in connection with criminal justice functions, licensing, access authorization, and employment purposes.

Benefits of Record Sealing

Although a criminal record is not destroyed when the record is under seal, there are also benefits to record sealing. The record is kept confidential with the criminal justice agency or agencies that hold it. Generally, record sealing can protect you against not getting a job or not being able to rent a home because of the results of a criminal background check, since these checks rely on public records.

The sealed record will be available to only certain persons. The record is exempt from the rules related to inspection and copying of records under section 119.07(1) and s. 24(a) Article I of the Florida Constitution.

Consult a Seasoned Expungement Lawyer in the Tampa Area

If you are interested in learning about the benefits of expungement or sealing, you should talk through your circumstances with a criminal defense attorney. At Hanlon Law, we may be able to help you file for expungement or record sealing in Florida. Call us at 813.228.7095 or contact us through our online form.

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