||Seal or Expunge Your Criminal Record|
Tampa Attorney for Sealing or Expunction of Criminal Records
Protect Your Most Important Asset- Your Good Name
If you are eligible, the Sammis Law Firm will be able to help you petition to seal or expunge your Florida criminal record without delay. For most seal and expunge cases in Florida we charge a total of $950.00 which includes all of the costs in the case. Although you can attempt to seal or expunge your record without an attorney, hiring an experienced lawyer to help you through the process will save you time and frustration and ensure that the process is completed as quickly as possible.
In this age of modern technology, any person with a computer can go to the website for the clerk of court or sheriff's office where the arrest occurred. From those websites, anyone can simply type in your name to read embarrassing details of your arrest, see your mug shot, and the resolution of your case.
In order to protect your career and good name, it is critical that you begin the process in Florida to seal or expunge a criminal record. At the Sammis Law Firm we will literally guide you through the process on the same day that you hire us. We fill out the paperwork, send it off to the appropriate agencies, prepare the petition and order for the judge's signature, and attend any court hearing in front of the judge as quickly as possible.
The only thing that you have to do is answer a few questions, sign the appropriate paperwork, and return the fingerprint card that we provide to you. The sooner you hire us, the sooner your criminal record will be sealed or expunged. Wondering if you are eligible? Read the information below to determine whether you might be eligible. If you think that you are eligible, contact our office today by calling 813-250-0500 for a free consultation to talk directly with an attorney about the process of sealing or expunging your criminal record.
We represent clients who need to seal a criminal record or expunge a criminal record throughout the State of Florida including but not limited to the following counties: Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Pasco County, Polk County, Hernando County, Sumter County, Lake County, Hardy County, Manatee County, Sarasota County, Orange County, Osceola County, Highlands County, Desoto County,
Need Another Reason to Seal or Expunge Your Arrest Record?
Starting the process to seal or expunge your Florida criminal arrest record is more important than ever now that many law enforcement agencies are making it even easier for the general public to perform on-line searches for old arrest records. For instance, before March of 2009, the website for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office published arrest information, including mugshots or booking photos, arrest charges, bond details, and other booking information for individuals arrested over only the past five years.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office recently changed this policy and now publishes electronic arrest information and mug shots for all individuals arrested since January 1, 1995. Records from the clerk of court go back even further.
Other private companies now have ability to download these on-line records in to massive databases. Law enforcement agencies in Polk County, Pinellas County, Pasco County, Hernando County, Manatee County, and Sarasota County are also in the process of making this information more readily available on-line. Now more than ever, it is important to seal or expunge your criminal record to protect your good name, and rid yourself of the consequences of an old arrest.
Most importantly, the legislature is continuing to change the law which almost always results in certain types of cases being ineligible for the seal or expunge process. The laws regarding your right to seal or expunge a criminal record could change tomorrow. If you are eligible today, why wait?
Fees and Costs - What do we charge our clients to seal or expunge a Florida criminal record?
At the Sammis Law Firm, in most cases we charge a flat rate to seal or expunge a criminal record of $950.00, which includes all costs in the case.
If you live in the Tampa Bay area you can come into our office to complete all the paperwork the same day that you retain us. The entire process takes about 45 minutes. If you live outside of the Tampa Bay area and would prefer to speak with the attorney by phone to complete the process, a phone consultation can be scheduled. We then mail you the paperwork and finger print card the same day so that you can sign and return your portion of the paperwork to our office.
Not eligible to seal or expunge your Florida criminal record? You may still be able to vacate your Florida conviction through a Rule 3.850 post-conviction motion under certain limited circumstances.
· The Benefits of Having Your Florida Criminal Record Sealed or Expunged
· Eligibility to Seal or Expunge Your Florida Criminal Record
· Requirements to Expunge Your Florida Arrest Record
· Requirements to Seal Your Arrest Record
· List of Ineligible / Disqualifying Offenses
What is the benefit of having my Florida criminal record sealed or expunged?
Circuit and County Courts in Florida have continuing jurisdiction over criminal records which allows those courts to seal or expunge Florida criminal history information maintained by the court system and records maintained by Florida law enforcement agencies.
Expunge - If your Florida record is expunged, then the records from the court and most records maintained by law enforcement will by physically destroyed, although a copy of the file will remain with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement ("FDLE").
Seal - If your Florida record is sealed, then it remains confidential and the public will not have access to the record through any government databases. However, certain government entities, including the police, have certain legal rights to access criminal records that are sealed under certain conditions. If your Florida record is expunged, those same government entities that would have access to a sealed record would be told that a record was "expunged" but would not have access to the contents of the record maintained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement ("FDLE") without a court order.
In either case, employers will not have access to the information through a background check.
Job applications typically ask if you have been arrested or entered a plea to a criminal offense. Florida law generally allows you to legally deny or fail to acknowledge an arrest that was sealed or expunged with a few exceptions. Under the exception to this general rule, you can not deny or fail to acknowledge an arrest under one of the following circumstances:
- If you are applying to change your immigration status;
- If you are a defendant facing a pending charge;
- If you are applying for employment with a criminal justice agency;
- If you are applying for employment with the Department of Children and Family Services, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Education, any school board, any university laboratory school, and charter school, any private or parochial school, or any local governmental entity that licenses child care facilities;
- If you are applying for employment or use by such contractor or licensee in a sensitive position having direct contact with children, the developmentally disabled, the aged, or the elderly;
- If you are applying for employment or access to a seaport;
- If you are applying for admission to the Florida Bar; or
- If you are petitioning to seal or expunge a criminal record.
Hire a Tampa Florida Seal and Expunge Attorney to assist you with your case. The first step is obtaining a certificate of eligibility for expunction or sealing from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. After your criminal defense attorney obtains your certificate of eligibility, your lawyer will file a petition in the court that originally had jurisdiction over your case which states the grounds upon which the request is made and the official records which should be sealed or expunged.
For example, if you were arrested on a warrant in Pinellas County, for an offense that allegedly occurred in Hillsborough County, and you are a life long resident of Polk County, then your petition to seal or expunge your Florida criminal record would be filed in Hillsborough County, Florida, because that is the county that originally had jurisdiction over your criminal offense.
The petition must be supported by an affidavit which states the facts that support the petition, and the Florida statutory grounds. A copy of your certificate of eligibility will also be filed. The petition and affidavit will be served on the State Attorney's Office in the division where the petition will be heard, the law enforcement agency that made the arrest, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The prosecutor or the law enforcement agency has the right to respond to the petition.
If a hearing in court before the judge is required, it is important to have an experienced Florida Seal and Expunge Attorney represent you so that the chanced can be minimized that your petition will be denied by the court. You do not have a absolute right to have your records sealed or expunged even if you are eligible. Although rare, the court could deny the motion even if the prosecutor or law enforcement agency that made the arrest has no objection.
If your request is denied, you can appeal the denial by showing that the court abused its discretion in denying the petition, although showing an abuse of discretion is difficult. Therefore, it is important to hire an attorney to go over your underlying offense, find mitigating factors, talk with the prosecutor before hand to ask them not to object or to provide the prosecutor with enough information to try and convince them not to object, and outline all of the reasons to the court that the petition to seal or expunge the criminal record should be granted.
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Am I Eligible to Seal or Expunge My Record?
If you can honestly answer "no" to each of these questions, then you are probably eligible to have your Florida record sealed or expunged. However, If the answer is "yes" to any one of these questions, then you are probably not eligible to have your Florida record sealed or expunged.
- Have you ever been convicted of any crime anywhere in the United States for any offense, including a felony offense, a misdemeanor, or a criminal ordinance violation?
- As a juvenile, were you ever "adjudicated delinquent" of a criminal charge?
- Has an adult criminal record ever been previously sealed or expunged?
- Are you currently under any type of court ordered supervision or diversion program, such a MIP, PTI, probation or community control?
- If you entered a plea and the court withheld adjudication, is the offense you are seeking to seal on this list of disqualifying offenses?
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Requirements to Expunge Your Record
If your cases was resolved without a plea then you may be eligible to have your Florida record expunged. A case can be resolved without a plea if the court dismisses the charge, no information or formal charges were filed by the State Attorney's Office, or the prosecutor filed charges but then dropped them (entered a nolle prosequi or nol pross).
If your Florida record is expunged, then the public does not generally have access to any records of the arrest or prosecution. Only those agencies that would otherwise have access to a sealed record would be advised of fact that the record had been expunged, however, the contents of the record would not be released without court order. Instead, the agency would only receive a statement that a "Criminal Information has been Expunged from this Record."
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Requirements to Seal Your Record
If the court withheld adjudication after you entered a plea of guilty or no contest and you have no other convictions for any criminal offense, then you may be eligible to have your Florida record sealed. Certain offenses are not eligible to be sealed in Florida.
After a criminal record is sealed in Florida, the public will not have access to the record. After the record has been sealed for 10 years, it will then become eligible for expunction.
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List of Ineligible or Disqualifying Offenses
If you entered a plea and were sentenced to any of the following offenses, even if the court withheld adjudication, you are not eligible to have your Florida record sealed (but if the case was dismissed prior to trial, you may still be eligible to have your record expunged even if the offense is on this list):
- §393.135 - Sexual misconduct with developmentally disabled person;
- §394.4593 - Sexual misconduct with the mentally ill person;
- §787.025 - Luring or enticing a child;
- §794 - Sexual Battery;
- §796.03 - Procuring person under age 18 for prostitution;
- §800.04 - Lewd or lascivious act committed on or in presence of child under 16;
- §810.14 - Voyeurism;
- §817.034 -Scheme to Defraud;
- §825.1025 - Lewd or Lascivious act committed on or in presence of elderly or disabled person;
- §827.071 - Sexual performance by a child;
- §839 - Offenses by public employees or officials;
- §847.0133 - Delivery of obscene material to a minor;
- §847.0135 - Computer pornography;
- §847.0145 - Selling or buying of minors for purposes of pornography;
- §893.135 -Trafficking in a controlled substance; including trafficking in cannabis;
- §916.1075 - Sexual misconduct with mentally deficient of mentally ill;
- §907.041 - Additionally, the following enumerated offenses are not eligible to be sealed after a plea is entered;
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Rules to Seal or Expunge a Juvenile Record
Under certain circumstances, juvenile records are sealed or expunged automatically or by operation of the law, without any petition or request being filed by the person with the juvenile record. In those cases, the sealing or expunction of those records are not classified as a prior seal or expunge for purposes of later having an adult record sealed or expunged.
Additionally, if a juvenile enters a juvenile diversion program in exchange for having the charges dropped after the successful completion of the diversion program, then the expunction of those records do not count as a prior seal or expunge which would make an individual ineligible for for a judicial sealing or expunction pursuant to Florida Statutes Section 943.059 or 943.0585. Contact a Juvenile Attorney in Tampa for more information about sealing or expunging a juvenile record in Florida.
Juvenile records are normally retained by the Criminal Justice Information Program (CJIP) until the offender's 24th birthday, at which time the juvenile record will be expunged automatically unless one of the following exceptions apply:
- Forcible Felony Exception -
If a person over the age of 17 is charged with or convicted of any forcible felony before the juvenile record has been automatically sealed or expunged, then the individual's juvenile record will be merged with the adult record.
- Adjudication as an Adult for a Forcible Felony Exception -
At any time, if the minor child is adjudicated as an adult for a forcible felony, then the juvenile's criminal record that existed prior to the adjudication as an adult will be merged with the record for adjudication as an adult.
- Serious Juvenile Record Exception -
Under Florida Statute Section 943.0515(1)(a), the Criminal Justice Information Program (CJIP) will keep the juvenile records until the offender's 26th birthday if the juvenile is classified as one of the following:
- Habitual juvenile offender;
- Serious juvenile offender;
- Committed to a juvenile correctional facility; or
- Committed to a juvenile prison for five (5) years after the offender's 21st birthday.
- Adjudication Delinquent for Any Juvenile Offense -
Regardless of any of the provisions above, if the juvenile is adjudicated delinquent for any offense, then the juvenile records shall be maintained. Those juvenile records then become ineligible to ever be sealed or expunged and are merged with the individual's adult record. Additionally, the individual also becomes in eligible to seal or expunge any other adult criminal record if the individual had ever been adjudicated delinquent in any juvenile case.
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At the Sammis Law Firm, we help clients Seal or Expunge their criminal record throughout Central Florida, including:
Hillsborough County, FL - Apollo Beach, Balm, Bloomingdale, Brandon, Carrollwood Village, Dover, Gibsonton, Lithia, Lutz, Mango, Orient Park, Plant City, Riverview, Ruskin, Seffner, Sun City Center, Tampa, Temple Terrace, Thonotosassa, Valrico, Wimauma, and Ybor City.
Pasco County, FL - Bayonet Point, Beacon Point, Dade City, Elfers, Gulf Harbors, Holiday, Hudson, Lacoochee, Land O' Lakes, New Port Richey, Odessa, Port Richey, San Antonio, Shady Hills, St. Leo, Trinity, Wesley Chapel, and Zephyrhills.
Pinellas County, FL - Bay Pines, Belleair, Belleair Beach, Belleair Bluffs, Belleair Shore, Clearwater, Crystal Beach, Dunedin, Gulfport, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores, Kenneth City, Largo, Madeira Beach, North Redington Beach, Oldsmar, Palm Harbor, Pass-A-Grille Beach, Pinellas Park, Redington Beach, Redington Shores, Safety Harbor, Seminole, South Pasadena, St. Pete Beach, St. Petersburg, Sunset Beach, Tarpon Springs, Tierra Verde, Treasure Island, and Ozona.
Polk County, FL - Auburndale, Bartow, Davenport, Dundee, Eagle Lake, Fedhaven, Fort Meade, Frostproof, Haines City, Highland Park, Hillcrest Heights, Indian Lake Estates, Lake Alfred, Lake Hamilton, Lake Wales, Lakeland, Mulberry, Nalcrest, Polk City, Providence, and Winter Haven.
Citrus County, FL - Beverly Hills, Black Diamond, Ctirus Hills, Citrus Springs, Crystal River, Floral City, Hernando, Homosassa Springs, Homosassa, Inverness, Lecanto, Pine Ridge, and Sugarmill Woods.
Hernando County, FL - Brooksville, Herrnando Beach, Masaryktown, Ridge Manor, Spring Hill, and Weeki Wachee.
Desoto County, FL - Arcadia, Brownville, Cubitis, Fort Ogden, Hull, Lake Suzy, Lansing, Nocatee, Southfort, Pine Level, and Platt.
Manatee County, FL - Anna Maria, Bradenton, Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach, Longboat Key, Myakka City, Oneco, and Palmetto.
Sarasota County, FL - Nokomis, Osprey, North Port, Sarasota, and Venice
Marion County, FL- Belleview, Citra, Dunnellon, Eureka, Fort McCoy, McIntosh, Ocala, Ocklawaha, Orange Springs, Reddick, Romeo, Salt Springs, Summerfield, and Weirsdale.
Sumter County, FL - Bushnell, Center Hill, Coleman, Lake Panasoffkee, Sumterville, Oxford, The Villages, Webster, and Wildwood.
Lake County, FL - Altoona, Astatula, Astor, Bassville Park, Clermont, Eustis, Forest Hills, Fruitland Park, Groveland, Howey-In-The-Hills, Lady Lake, Leesburg, Mascotte, Minneola, Montverde, Mount Dora, Mount Plymouth, Okahumpka, Paisley, Sorrento, Tavares, Umatilla, and Yalaha.
Seminole County, FL - Altamonte Springs, Casselberry, Geneva, Lake Mary, Lake Monroe, Longwood, Oviedo, Sanford, and Winter Springs.
Orange County, FL - Alafaya, Apopka, Bay Lake, Belle Isle, Christmas, Doctor Phillips, Eatonville, Edgewood, Hunter's Creek, Lake Buena Vista, Maitland, Oakland, Ocoee, Orlando, Tangerine, Windermere, Winter Garden, Winter Park, and Zellwood.
Osceola County, FL - Campbell, Celebration, Champions Gate, Kissimmee, Poinciana, and St. Cloud.
Hardee County, FL - Bowling Green, Wauchula, Zolfo Springs
Highlands County, FL - Avon Park, Lake Placid, Leisure Lakes, Lorida, Sebring, and Venus.
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At the Sammis Law Firm, we understand that you need this process completed as quickly as possible. Call us today for a free consultation. We represent clients that want to seal or expunge a criminal record quickly throughout Florida. If you need a lawyer to seal or expunge your criminal record, we can begin the process today. Call us at 813-250-0500 to discuss your case today.
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