Obtain a certified copy of the record indicating the final disposition of your felony charges. This could be from one of two sources. If charges were filed with the court, go to the clerk's office for the court where the charges were filed to obtain a certified copy of this record. If you were sent to pretrial intervention or another diversion program, obtain a certified letter of completion from the prosecuting attorney who handled your case. If the final disposition in your case was "adjudication withheld" and you received probation, you must also obtain a certified copy of the termination of your probation from the clerk of court.
If you are arrested for a felony in Florida but no charges are filed, you can petition the court to expunge the arrest record. You can also petition for expungement if charges are filed, but the case is dismissed. In either situation, you can file your petition once the case is disposed. If your case is prosecuted and the court orders "adjudication withheld" along with probation conditions, successfully completing probation may result in expungement; however, you must first petition the court to seal your records and the records must be sealed for 10 years before you can petition the court for expungement.
Things You'll Need
- Certified copy of the final disposition of your felony charges
- Application for Certification of Eligibility (FDLE form)
- Certification of Eligibility (received from FDLE)
- Petition to Seal (if necessary)
- Affidavit In Support of Petition to Seal (if necessary)
- Order To Seal (if necessary)
- Petition To Expunge
- Affidavit In Support of Petition to Expunge
- Order To Expunge
Go the website of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and follow the link to "Download Expunge/Seal Package" in order to apply for a Certification of Eligibility, which is a prerequisite for petitioning the court either for an order sealing your records or expunging your records. The FDLE also provides the applications for a Certification of Eligibility to the clerk of court in all Florida counties, so you can obtain the application there as well.
Complete Section A of the Application for Certification of Eligibility you obtained in Step 2, regardless of whether you will be filing a petition for sealing or expunging your felony record. If you are applying for an expungement, you must submit the form to the prosecuting attorney to complete Section B. In either case, you must also complete the FDLE fingerprint form accompanying the application. This must be done by a local law enforcement agency. Also, your signature on the application must be notarized.
Mail your completed application with fingerprint form to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Attn: Expunge/Seal Section, P.O. Box 1489,
Tallahassee, Florida 32302-1489. You must also include a $75 money order or cashier's check made payable to the FDLE.
Obtain the necessary forms from the office of the clerk of court for sealing or expunging your record after you have received your Certification of Eligibility from the FDLE. Some courts, such as the Sarasota County Circuit Court, make these forms available online for downloading. These forms will include a petition, an affidavit and order, and each will be specifically identified for use in obtaining an order to seal or expunge a record. The court website may also provide instructions for preparing the forms.
Complete the petition and affidavit form appropriate for your situation, either sealing or expungement. Make several copies. The original completed petition, affidavit and your Certificate of Eligibility must be filed with the court clerk. You will have to mail copies of all three documents to the attorney who prosecuted your case (if any), the arresting law enforcement agency and the county Sheriff's office. The court will notify you by mail regarding the ruling on your petition.
Tips & Warnings
- Obtaining the Certification of Eligibility from the FDLE does not guaranty either the sealing or expungement of your felony record. The final decision belongs to the court.
- In cases where adjudication is withheld, some felony charges cannot be sealed or expunged. A complete list of these charges can be found on the website for the Sarasota Clerk of Circuit Court following the link "Instructions on Court Ordered Sealings." Felony convictions--you are found guilty--cannot be sealed or expunged.
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