One of the concerns that parents and young offenders may have about a criminal record for juvenile felonies or misdemeanors is who can access it. Generally, the public has limited access to juvenile criminal history records, but those arrested for a felony or who have three or more misdemeanors may have their information released. Juvenile records may be eligible for sealing or expungement, however.
Sealing vs. Expungement
Sealing a criminal record means to limit access to it. While law enforcement and certain agencies may have access to the record, the general public will not. If the record is sealed, the individual may deny or omit information pertaining to the arrest unless applying for a law enforcement job, a job working with children, the disabled or the elderly, the Florida Bar or when purchasing a firearm.
Expungement is the physical destruction of the criminal record. The juvenile record may be expunged automatically upon reaching the age of 24 except in certain cases – when the individual is a habitual offender (the court may keep it until the perpetrator turns 26), committed a sexual offense, was adjudicated as an adult, or committed a forcible felony as an adult prior to juvenile record expungement.
All agencies except Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) will destroy an expunged record. Existence of the record may be available, but details will not be revealed without a court order. Again, the individual may deny or omit mentioning the arrest except in the cases mentioned above.
Process to Seal or Expunge a Record
To seal or expunge a record, the individual must follow these steps:
- Apply for a certificate of eligibility with the FDLE.
- Submit Petition to Seal or Expunge to the court.
- If necessary, attend a hearing.
- The court will issue the order to seal or expunge and send it to any applicable criminal justice agencies and clerk of the court.
Contact a defense attorney at Falk & Ross at (877) 663-5110 if your child has been arrested and faces charges. We can answer your questions about the juvenile justice process and how a criminal record may impact your child’s life.