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Choosing Between Sealing and Expunging in Jacksonville

Experienced Attorneys Advising Jacksonville Residents

Jacksonville and the rest of Duval County are served by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, a joint law enforcement agency. Its Records Unit provides local background checks at the Police Memorial Building. The Duval County Clerk of Courts keeps all court records for the county, and they are publicly available online. If you have a criminal record, you may find it difficult to get a job or gain entrance into a university, among other things. Expungement or record sealing may be helpful. If you are choosing between sealing and expunging in Jacksonville, you should consult the Jacksonville expungement lawyers at Hanlon Law.

Sealing and Expunging

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) determines whether someone is eligible to expunge a criminal record under Florida Statutes section 943.0585 or to seal a criminal record under section 943.059. If you have ever been adjudicated guilty or adjudicated delinquent of a felony or misdemeanor, you will not be eligible to expunge or seal your criminal record. This includes an adjudication of guilty for DUI, driving on a suspended license, or reckless driving. You must have completed any court supervision in order to seal or expunge the record.

Both sealing and expunging have benefits. Both can restrict access to your criminal record and make it easier to move forward with your life. You may become a more competitive job applicant and find housing more readily. You may be able to retain a professional license. In most situations, you can lawfully deny the criminal record. However, the procedures of expungement and record sealing are different. With both record sealing and expungement, you can obtain the relief only once. This makes it very important to retain an attorney and select the correct process.

Choosing Between Sealing and Expunging in Jacksonville

Although you can obtain court-ordered expungement or record sealing only once, it may be possible to have a record expunged after it has been sealed for 10 years, under circumstances in which you were initially not eligible for expungement because adjudication was withheld, so you sealed the record instead. The later expungement must be sought for the sealed record; you cannot obtain expungement for a different record simply because the initially ineligible record was sealed for 10 years.

Benefits of Expungement

Generally, if you are eligible for expungement, this process provides slightly more relief than does record sealing. Unlike with record sealing, the departments that keep the record at issue physically destroy it. Only a single confidential copy is maintained with the FDLE.

The public does not have access to a record that has been expunged or sealed, but with expungement, the governmental agencies that continue to have access when a record is sealed will merely receive a notification that there is an expunged record. They will not have access to the confidential copy without requesting a court order to gain access.

Record sealing, on the other hand, does not involve the physical destruction of the record. Instead, it is preserved but kept out of reach of the public. Federal, state, county, and city agencies can still readily access the sealed record.

Other Forms of Expungement

Although you can obtain court-ordered expungement under section 943.0585 or record sealing under section 943.059 only once, there are other kinds of expungement that may be available to you, depending on the circumstances. Other kinds of expungement include administrative expungement, human trafficking victim expungement, and lawful self-defense expungement. For example, if you were mistakenly arrested because the police believed that you were someone else with the same name, you might be eligible to obtain an administrative expungement, even if you already obtained a court-ordered expungement for a different charge.

Consult a Seasoned Expungement Attorney

If you are choosing between sealing and expunging in Jacksonville, you should talk about your situation with a criminal defense lawyer who has handled many of these applications. At Hanlon Law, we have sought and obtained expungements and sealings for thousands of criminal records across Florida. Call us at 800.373.1974 or contact us through our online form.

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I highly recommend this law firm who worked on my case. Their staff is highly professional and when ever I called to get an update on my case Kathy always took the time to explain things thoroughly. I admire their honesty and professionalism and the price for their services are reasonable. I am very grateful for their services and for getting my case resolved and I recommend this firm to anyone. Victor