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Choosing Between Sealing and Expunging in Tampa

Tampa Attorneys Advocating for Criminal Defendants

Property crimes and theft crimes are the most common crimes reported in Tampa. The Tampa Police Department maintains records that the public can request. Requests to access these records can be mailed or emailed to the Tampa Police Department. Generally, when requesting only arrest records, you need to verify the reason for the request. If you were arrested in Tampa, you will likely need to apply for sealing or expungement in the Hillsborough County Circuit Court. Choosing between sealing and expunging in Tampa can be an important choice. Expungement involves removing a criminal record from the public records. Sealing a criminal record involves restricting access to it. Our Tampa expungement lawyers can go over your options with you.

Choosing Between Sealing and Expunging in Tampa

Generally, court-ordered expungement confers greater benefits than record sealing does. Under Florida Statutes section 943.0585, any criminal history that is ordered to be expunged needs to be physically destroyed or obliterated by the criminal justice agency that has custody of the record. However, a copy of the criminal history record is retained and kept confidential. This copy is not available to anyone except in circumstances in which a court has issued an order allowing access. Additionally, the agency might keep a notation showing compliance with the expungement order.

Denying Arrests

If your criminal history record is expunged under section 943.0585, you can legally deny or fail to acknowledge the arrests that were covered by the expunged record. Outside certain exceptions, you cannot be found to have committed perjury or be otherwise liable for giving a false statement because you did not recite or acknowledge your expunged record.

The exceptions to this rule are if you are a defendant in a criminal prosecution, you are a candidate for employment with a criminal justice agency, you have concurrently or subsequently petitioned for another expungement or record sealing, you are a candidate for admission to the Florida Bar, you are seeking a guardianship, you are seeking licensing from certain divisions of the Department of Financial Services, or you are seeking to work with or be licensed to teach children and other vulnerable groups.

The information related to an expunged criminal record is confidential and exempt from most disclosures. However, certain entities can still seek and learn of the existence of an expunged criminal history record for criminal justice purposes.

Record Sealing

Record sealing is an option that can also provide relief if you are concerned about the impact of a criminal background check on your prospects for jobs, school, housing, or professional licensing. Record sealing can be obtained under Florida Statutes section 943.059. Generally, more people are eligible for record sealing than for expungement. To be eligible, you must not have been adjudicated guilty of a criminal offense or have been adjudicated delinquent for perpetrating a felony or any of certain misdemeanor offenses.

The criminal history record of a minor or adult that is ordered sealed is kept confidential. It is not destroyed. This means that it will only be available to certain parties. It will be available to you, as well as your attorney, criminal justice agencies for criminal justice purposes, judges who need to look at the record for assistance in decision-making responsibilities, and certain entities for licensing access authorization or job purposes.

You are allowed to legally deny or not acknowledge arrests covered by the sealed record, except under certain circumstances. You cannot be held to have committed perjury or be held liable for giving a false statement because you failed to acknowledge or mention a sealed criminal history record, also with certain exceptions.

Consult a Knowledgeable Tampa Lawyer

In many instances, expungement is more helpful than sealing your record. However, the specific circumstances will dictate the appropriate relief. If you are choosing between sealing and expunging in Tampa, you should consult Hanlon Law. Our attorneys may be able to help you file for relief. Call us at 813.228.7095 or contact us through our online form.

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