If you fear you will get a criminal record in Florida following an arrest, the best route to avoiding it is through the help of a criminal defense attorney. However, you may also be wondering how long criminal records in Florida exist for. Let’s get into it:
What Is a Criminal Record in Florida?
A criminal record in Florida is the term given to information kept about an individual’s criminal history, including arrests and convictions.
Stored by state, local and federal authorities, criminal records can be used for many purposes such as background checks, identification and locating suspects in criminal investigations.
Courts also refer to criminal records to determine whether a person has committed the crime when they determine sentences.
As you can see, criminal records may haunt you for the rest of your life and affect your chance of getting housing, mortgages, jobs, child custody and more.
How Long Do Criminal Records in Florida Last For?
Criminal records begin the moment a person is arrested for a crime. They effectively last for the rest of your life. However, the information recorded may be able to be removed or made inaccessible through expungement or sealing.
Seven Year Myth
There is a myth that a criminal record magically disappears after seven years. The origins of this belief are unclear, but it should be known that this belief is false. Criminal records are not like your credit report and won’t reset after seven years.
How Long Do Felonies Stay on Criminal Records in Florida?
If you’re convicted of a felony in Florida, it will remain on your criminal record for the rest of your life (unless you receive a pardon from the President or Governor).
If you’re charged with a felony in Florida but not convicted, it will also remain on your criminal record unless you apply to have it – removed, expunged or have the record sealed.
This is far from easy but entirely possible under the right circumstances.
How Long Do Misdemeanors Stay on Criminal Records in Florida?
If you’ve been arrested and charged with any misdemeanor, it will appear on your criminal record in Florida as soon as the police enter the information into the database.
If you’re not convicted of a misdemeanor, then the arrest will stay on your record until you work to have it removed.
Sadly, people get arrested for crimes they didn’t commit but still have an arrest to their name – which can be problematic when looking for a job or housing.
Thankfully, there are some solutions:
Expungement vs. Sealing
You generally have two options to remove charges from your criminal record in Florida if you were innocent and not convicted. These are called ‘expungement’ and ‘sealing’.
Expungement is a lawsuit for first-time offenders, providing the ability to completely remove information relating to the arrest and charges from your visible public record. There are various scenarios that might justify expungement, including:
- The charge was dropped
- Charges were not filed, but you were arrested
- The case was dismissed
- You were not found guilty at trial.
You may also be able to exchange having a criminal record expunged by striking a pre-trial plea bargain.
If you wish to have your record expunged, you should speak to a Florida criminal defense attorney.
Similarly, sealing is the process of having your criminal record hidden from the public. The criminal justice agency will still record the information but it will be confidential. This can make a huge difference in the lives of anyone who has struggled due to their criminal record.
Benefits of Expunging and Sealing a Criminal Record in Florida
- Protect your criminal history from public access.
- Avoid employers discovering your criminal history.
- Avoid colleges discovering your criminal history.
- Protect yourself from having to disclose an arrest to employers.
- Protection of your reputation in the community.
- Peace of mind.
Defending Your Charges After Arrest
As you can see, a criminal record is bad news. It will haunt you for the rest of your life unless drastic action is taken. Even then, not every application for expunging or sealing charges is accepted.
Defending yourself is the best thing you can do first. To do so, you should work with only the very best criminal defense attorneys.
Our Florida criminal defense team will fight aggressively on your behalf if you’ve been arrested and charged for a variety of crimes. We provide specialized defense in the following areas:
- Assault and Battery
- BUI – Boating Under the Influence
- Burglary and Trespass
- Child Neglect
- Disorderly Conduct and Disorderly Intoxication
- Domestic Battery
- Drug Possession
- Drug Sales & Manufacturing
- Drug Trafficking
- DUI – Driving Under the Influence
- First-Time DUIs
- Gun & Weapon Charges
- Juvenile Crimes
- Obstructing Justice or Resisting Arrest
- Traffic Offenses
- Driving on a Suspended License
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident
- Violations of Probation
- White Collar Crimes
Cases That Cannot Be Expunged or Sealed
Florida Statutes 943.0585 and 943.059 state that certain offenses cannot be sealed or expunged. These offenses can only be expunged or sealed if the charges were dropped or otherwise dismissed. These include:
- Sexual misconduct with a developmentally disabled person
- Sexual misconduct between employees and mentally ill patients
- Luring or enticing a child
- Sexual battery
- Procuring a minor for prostituion
- Sexual misconduct in the presence of children
- Communications Fraud
- Criminal conduct by public officials and employees
- Sharing obscene materials with minors
- Selling or buying minors
- Drug trafficking
- Aggravated assault
- Aggravated battery
- Illegal use of explosives
- Child abuse
- Elders abuse
- Sexual battery
- Assault of a child
- Stalking or aggravated stalking
- Domestic battery
- Sexual assault
How to Obtain Criminal Record Information in Florida:
You can search for criminal records in Florida via the Florida Department of Law’s online record book.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney in Florida
If you’re facing charges after an arrest in Florida, we can help. Our Florida criminal defense attorneys can fight on your behalf to help you avoid jail time and avoid a criminal record.
Ranger Jackson is a top-rated criminal defense attorney in Pinellas County. He is a partner at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., one of Tampa Bay’s most prestigious law firms with the reputation and connections to make things happen.
With decades of experience helping people like you, we believe there is no better place to help you fight criminal charges in Florida.
Contact us today for a free consultation to get started or CALL (727) 381-2300