In Florida, your juvenile record may be sealed or expunged depending upon very specific circumstances. You can petition for sealing or expunging your record only once. However, if a judge decides that a subsequent arrest is directly related to the arrest that was originally sealed or expunged, you can petition again. In some cases, your record will be expunged automatically, even without a petition.
Once your juvenile criminal record is sealed or expunged, it can be made available to others in very limited circumstances. Although you are generally not required to tell others that you had a juvenile court record, it may be made visible to others if you:
- Apply for employment with a criminal justice agency
- Apply for admission to The Florida Bar
- Seek employment for certain other agencies or organizations, or
- Are the subject of a criminal prosecution.
These are only a few examples situations where your record may be made available after sealing or expungement. All exceptions to the rule may be found in sections 943.0585 and 943.059 of the Florida Statutes.
How Do I Find Out if I Can Have My Record Expunged in Florida?
Once your court supervision has ended, you can then petition to have the related record sealed. However, your record may not be eligible for expungement if:
- You were found guilty of or adjudicated delinquent for any of the acts related to the record you want to have sealed.
- You were found guilty or adjudicated delinquent for a serious offense, including assault, battery, certain offenses involving carrying or using a weapon or firearm, unlawful use of destructive devices or bombs, child neglect, assault on a law enforcement officer or firefighter, arson involving injury to a firefighter, indecent exposure, petty theft, or cruelty to animals.
- Your juvenile record involves any of the following: a violation of pretrial detention and release, sexual misconduct, luring or enticing a child, procuring person under age of 18 for prostitution, lewd or lascivious offenses committed upon or in the presence of someone less than 16 old, voyeurism, a violation of the Florida communications fraud act, lewd or lascivious offenses committed upon or in the presence of an elderly or disabled person, sexual performance by a child, computer pornography/traveling to meet minors, selling or buying of minors, trafficking, or a violation of any offense that requires you to register as a sex offender, when accompanied by a finding of of guilt or a plea of guilty or nolo contendere.
- You have previously sealed or expunged a criminal record.
- You have concurrently filed another petition to seal or expunge a criminal record.
(Florida Statutes § 943.059.)
Does My Record Qualify for Expungement in Florida?
Your juvenile record may qualify for expungement under the following circumstances:
- If you were not classified as a serious or habitual juvenile offender, and if you were not committed to a juvenile correction facility, your record will qualify for automatic expungement on your 24th birthday. (Florida Statutes § 943.0515.)
- If you were classified as a serious or habitual juvenile offender, or if you were committed to a juvenile correction facility, your record will qualify for automatic expungement on your 26th birthday. (Florida Statutes § 943.0515.)
- Before your 24th birthday, you may petition for the expungement of some misdemeanors after you have successfully completed a court-ordered diversion program, or for the expungement of an arrest record if you were arrested “contrary to law or by mistake.” (Florida Statutes §§ 943.0582 and.0581.)
- Your record will not qualify for expungement if you are charged with a forcible felony, you are 18 or older, and your juvenile record has not yet been destroyed. If this applies to you, your juvenile record will be retained and combined with your adult criminal record. You cannot expunge juvenile records for most sexual offenses. (Florida Statutes § 943.0515.)
How Do I FIle for Expungement in Florida?
Before filing a petition to seal or expunge your juvenile record, you have to apply for a certificate of eligibility for sealing. After you receive your certificate, then you may file your petition in the county court that handled your juvenile case.