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Criminal Defense

Spring Cleaning (Your Florida Criminal Record)

Seal or Expunge your Florida Criminal Record

You can make your Florida criminal record TOP Secret under certain limited circumstances.

I get calls all the time from people who applied for a job, only to miss out on it because of an old arrest that shows up on their Florida criminal record from high school, college, or some other time in the distant or not so distant past. They often want to know how long an arrest stays on your Florida Criminal record. The short answer is forever, unless you do something about it. And some charges will stay on forever no matter what.Well, what can you do to fix that? It depends. According to Florida Law, as long as you have never been adjudicated guilty of anything, you have the ability to Petition the Court in the jurisdiction you were arrested to Seal or Expunge ONE INCIDENT in your lifetime from your Florida Criminal Record. It is rare, however possible, to seal or expunge two or more incidents if they are all inter-related in some way on your Florida Criminal Record. There are several exceptions and clarifications to this law.

First of all, sealing your Florida criminal record is basically just how it sounds. The Florida criminal record is sealed and only a very limited number of people and/or agencies have access to the information within the file. Expunging your Florida criminal record is theoretically like putting it through a shredder, although again, a limited number of people and/or agencies will have access to the fact that it existed. A Florida criminal record may be sealed if you are sentenced, but the Court withholds adjudication of guilt. If you are put on probation, you must wait an allotted period of time from the date probation ends until you are eligible. You may Petition to expunge your Florida criminal record if the charges are dropped or you are found Not Guilty at trial.

So, who are those limited people and/or agencies that will still have access to a sealed or expunged Florida criminal record? Well, law enforcement is supposed to have access to the information. Should you get arrested again, they will know that it is not the first time. Also industries who’s primary focus is working directly with children or the elderly will also have access to a sealed or expunged Florida criminal record. I think that this exception has been generally limited to schools and hospitals. Also, if you apply to the Florida Bar for a license to practice law, they will find out about your Florida criminal record – regardless of whether it has been sealed or expunged. There are a few other exceptions which can be found directly in the Florida Statutes. Unless the job you apply for falls under one of these exceptions, they will not have knowledge or access to a sealed or expunged Florida criminal record and you are not required to disclose.

There are certain crimes that are not eligible to be sealed or expunged. DUI is one of those charges. It will be on your record forever, no matter what – even if you are found Not Guilty at trial.

A lot of times, people don’t really think it is necessary to hire a lawyer for a simple misdemeanor charge like possession of alcohol under age, or criminal mischief. But if you are not careful and knowledgeable of the law, you may end up with a result that lasts forever.

In this day and age when jobs are scarce, it is probably a good idea to cleanse your record to put yourself in the best light possible. But remember to keep a copy of the file for yourself because if you need it for some reason in the future, you won’t be able to get it once it’s sealed or expunged.

Did You Know???

Did you know that carrying your prescription pills loosely in the bottom of your purse will probably get you arrested?

Always keep your prescription with you NO MATTER WHAT. Otherwise you will likely be booked for possession of a controlled substance without a prescription (usually a 3rd degree felony!), required to post a bond and hire a lawyer or miss work to go to court – just to show proof that you are innocent.

It’s a heck of a lot cheaper to just keep them in the bottle!

DON’T RUN! You Will Almost Gurantee Your Arrest


Running will almost always result in an arrest, even if you weren’t doing anything wrong before you ran.

Don’t run if a police officer is looking at or speaking to you. If they had any question about whether to arrest you, they won’t after you run!In December, the Florida Supreme Court held that the act of running from an officer in a high crime area is resisting arrest without violence (a first degree misdemeanor) – regardless of whether your behavior prior to flight was legal or might have resulted in arrest on its own.

In Florida, an officer can come up and talk to you and ask you for identification without any provocation. This is called a citizen encounter. Other than providing your ID, you are not required to say anything else unless you want to. If you are uncomfortable with the encounter, ask the officer if you are free to leave. If he says no, politely tell him you would like a lawyer before you answer any questions. He may continue his investigation, and he may or may not have enough to arrest you already, but he can’t ask you any more questions until your lawyer is present. If you cannot afford one, a public defender must be appointed upon your request for a lawyer -should the police wish to proceed. Be polite in complying with the officer’s requests. But know that you are never required to answer questions without the advice of counsel. If an officer has enough to arrest you, he will usually do so regardless of what you say. It is unlikely that any explanation you give will get you out of the situation, and if fact, usually makes his case stronger. Along the same lines, if an officer asks you for consent to search your property, YOU CAN SAY NO. If an officer has enough to arrest you, he will search you anyway without your consent.

Remember, you may be able to out run an officer, but you can’t out run the radio. They will catch you. Don ‘t give them a reason.

RJ Ferraro III, Criminal Lawyer and Blog Author

RJ Ferraro, III, Stuart, Florida Criminal Defense Attorney

RJ Ferraro, III, has been a criminal defense lawyer serving clients in and around Florida’s Treasure Coast and the Palm Beaches since 2001.  His practices is focused on representing individuals charged with crimes in both State and Federal Court.  RJ has  handled everything from routine traffic tickets to capital felonies.

Despite the fact that the law is constantly changing, ignorance is never a defense. With that in mind, the purpose of this blog is to discuss the issues that continue to re-surface on a consistent basis, and to answer many of the simple questions that people charged with a crime often contemplate.

If you are charged with a crime, the attorneys of the Ferraro Law Group, PL in Stuart, Florida are here for you.

Contact the Stuart, Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys of the Ferraro Law Group, PL today to set up a free and confidential consultation.  We are available by phone at (772) 221-0600 or by e-mail to