Stephen G. Cobb - Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

Who Is Eligible To Have Their Record Expunged In Florida?


Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

Although that’s an excellent question, it’s not something I feel comfortable rattling off the top of my head because that changes so frequently. My concern is although this particular interview is, like all of them, coming with the disclaimer that it is not actual legal advice for a specific case, I am nevertheless concerned that somebody would look at that list, try and do it on their own and completely blow their case and wind up having committed perjury by accident yet still facing a prosecution. So, that’s a question when it comes to “What kind of charges”, you’ll read all kinds of blogs about it.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will have a listing on their website, I would go with that because I don’t know if someone is reading this 5 days after we’ve had this interview or if they are reading it 5 years afterwards and the law has changed. Generally speaking, if you are thinking about an expungement or a record seal, this isn’t something you do on your own. You can do it on your own; there is no law against it. It just one of those things that a few hundred dollars you pay to have it done correctly, make sure that it’s done correctly and that you don’t accidentally wander along the minefield of Florida Criminal Law and step on a landmine that blows your life up.

Are There Any Charges Or Convictions That Automatically Fall Off Your Record?

The answer is yes. Generally speaking, for adults, there is no automatic expungement of criminal history. That’s something you have to go out of the way and do on your own. For juveniles, generally speaking, records are automatically expunged when they become adults. However, there are exceptions to that. The one example that pops to mind almost immediately would be a juvenile DUI conviction. A juvenile DUI conviction at the current time will show up, and the reason that that is so is because if somebody commits a second DUI offense within 5 years of the first one, there is a mandatory minimum jail time requirement that they settle with the DUI charge, at the third offense level, there is additional minimum jail time. However, the reality is it’s far less than what most people actually get if they have a third offense or more DUI. Generally speaking, for juveniles, most charges are going to be expunged automatically.

Now, if a juvenile is waived over to adult court, let’s say you have a 16-year old who is charged with a felony and they are waived over to adult court, then there is not going to be an automatic expunction at the end of the process. That’s something where you’d have to retain the legal counsel and determine is the juvenile, who’s probably now an adult by the time the case concludes, eligible and if eligible, then you can move forward with either the seal or the expunction depending upon what the outcome in that particular case was.

What Is The Process Of Having A Record Expunged In Florida?

The process of having your record expunged begins right after an arrest or an investigation where they may be seeking a warrant. That process is to hire the best possible lead counsel you can find. When you do that, you are going to be hiring somebody who is going to be thinking down the road and if it looks like it’s possible to have this type of favorable outcome where there’s going to be a withhold or a seal or a dismissal of some kind, then they are thinking ahead to record expunction or sealing depending upon which is appropriate. So the thing to do is to have that mind at the time of retaining legal counsel. Legal counsel is not going to sit there in most cases and go, “I’m going to win your case for you and will get your record expunged”. Lawyers tend to give very cautious advice.

Even with the most favorable looking case or the ugliest looking case that first comes into the office after these many years of experience in just one field, I’ve learned that you always consider that the case can be weaker or stronger than it looks like when it first walks in the door. The case gets really drove that message home was when I had someone confessed to murder and we got the charges dismissed. How often do you think that happens? I got to tell you once in my career and it shocked the daylights at me. So that’s where it really starts is when you are retaining counsel for the charge initially. For many of the readers who follow these interviews, they have already been arrested, arrested been prosecuted, their case is over. For those individuals, my answer is the same.

Get a free consultation with the highly experienced criminal defense lawyer and see if you qualify for record sealing or expunction and then, let them do their thing. It doesn’t cost very much to get a record sealed or expunged compared to the damage that can be caused if something is not done correctly. I’ve often referred to it as stepping on a mine in the minefield that is Florida Criminal Law. Finally, it’s important in every case, and I bring this up to the point I’ve found like a broken record, and that is simply this. Digital Erasure is assuming a more and more prominent role simply because things leak from social media, things can be found via search engines and it does no good to seal your record or expunge your record only to have that data floating out there in cyberspace when you could have contacted a company like erasemugshots.com, they pull down mugshots, they also get rid and bury, if necessary, negative internet data. The reality is all of us use Google, no one goes to page two.

If negative information cannot be erased, then it can be buried. If someone puts your name into a search engine and this negative information shows up at the result on page 148, it might as well be erased because nobody even goes to the second page of Google. So that’s my recommendation is to begin with the end in mind, if this is an initial case and if someone who’s reading this already has had their case resolved, then I think it’s important to talk to a lawyer and pay the small fee that is charged by most firms to get it done correctly and have it expunged and sealed but at the same time, never forget about digital eraser. I think that’s absolutely critical.

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

For more information on Eligibility For Expungement In Florida, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (850) 466-1522 today.

Stephen G. Cobb, Esq.

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