Sealing Criminal Records in Florida

A criminal record sealing allows you to have the court order that your criminal record related to an arrest or conviction be sealed and therefore hidden from public viewing.

Generally, sealed criminal court records appear nonexistent to everyone except criminal justice agencies and the court system.

Historical Overview

Historically sealed court records were placed in an envelope that was secured with a red wax seal. This wax seal meant that the records were not to be viewable by the public.

Currently, courts and criminal justice agencies physically identify sealed records with a red stamp that indicated the records are sealed and not to be shown to the public and electronic records are flagged to prevent public access.

An order to seal covers records in all Florida courts, criminal justice agencies in Florida, and criminal records contained in the file of any court or agency that has a copy of your criminal record, including the FBI and any other law-enforcement agency known to possess such records.

While sealing your criminal record is not as secure as an expungement, court and law enforcement personnel can be charged with a misdemeanor of the first degree if they disclose the existence of a sealed criminal record.

Effect of a Criminal Records Sealing

Once a criminal record is sealed, all of the proceedings in it are treated as if they never occurred and you may lawfully deny that you were ever arrested or charged.

Nevertheless, there are limited exceptions to this right to deny. If asked, you must acknowledge your arrest or plea if you are:

  1. A candidate for employment with a criminal justice agency;
  2. A defendant in a criminal prosecution;
  3. Concurrently or subsequently petitioning for to have another unrelated criminal episode sealed or expunged ;
  4. A candidate for admission to The Florida Bar;
  5. Seeking to be employed, licensed by, or contracted with:
    • The Department of Children and Family Services
    • The Department of Juvenile Justice
    • A sensitive position having direct contact with children
    • The Department of Education
    • Any public or private school
    • A local government agency that licenses child care facilities

Eligibility and Other Questions

Florida criminal records history sealing law is complicated and overlaps considerably with Florida expungement law. If you have further questions that you still need answered, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions section.

Review the eligibility checklist to determine if you are eligible to have your criminal records sealed. If you already know you are eligible and would like to get the sealing process started, please contact us today.

Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby

If you are ready to retain a lawyer to petition to have your record sealed, contact Orlando Expungement Lawyer Richard Hornsby for a free initial consultation.