Having a criminal record limits your options in life. It can keep you from renting a house in the best neighborhoods, prevent you from receiving student aid for higher education and even affect your professional licensing.
In theory, criminal records serve to help protect the public. They make it so those with a history of dangerous or illegal activity can’t simply moved to a new community and take advantage of or victimize new people. Criminal records help keep predators out of elementary schools and ensure that those with access to vulnerable people don’t have a history of violence.
Unfortunately, criminal records can also punish good and upstanding people their entire lives for a single mistake or misunderstanding. If you made a mistake in your past that you have since learned a lesson from, you may want to get rid of the blemish on your criminal record. Expungement is an opportunity to steal your record and put that mistake behind you. When do people qualify for an expungement in Florida?
After a wrongful arrest
Sometimes, police officers, the witnesses to or victims of crimes make mistakes. The wrong person can get arrested for something they had no role in. People also get arrested for actions that turn out to not be illegal, including acts of self-defense.
Even if the state never brings charges against that person, the record of the arrest might show up in certain that context. Individuals who can show that their arrest was wrongful or inappropriate may be able to have the record of that arrest removed from public records in Florida.
After serving a juvenile sentence
Youthful offenders have the most to lose after a conviction, and Florida gives them extra consideration. All juvenile records get expunged when the individual turns 21 or 26 if they spent time in a juvenile correction center if they avoid additional legal issues and charges. Those between 18 and 21 years of age can also sometimes qualify for an early juvenile expungement.
After living a long time with no additional issues
If the offense in question qualifies for expungement and you go a significant amount of time without another arrest or conviction, you may be able to petition the Florida courts to seal the records of the only offense in your past. Typically, you can ask the court to steal all records related to a single incident or event at one time.
Expungement can be a powerful tool for those who either did not commit a crime or who have since learned from their previous legal issues. Pursuing an expungement can open up any options for you in the future.