Sealing or Expunging a Criminal Record: What is the Difference?

Criminal records can follow an individual for a life time, affecting the individual’s ability to gain employment, obtain housing or even their ability to pursue an education. People find it hard to believe that even if an individual was never convicted of a crime, their arrest records will still remain. Florida offers individuals the ability to seal or expunge the criminal records for certain crimes. However, what is the difference between sealing and expunging? When a criminal record is sealed, the public will not have access to it; however, certain government entities will still have access to the records. When a criminal record is expunged, all court records pertaining to that one case are destroyed as though it never occurred. It is important to know that Florida Statutes set forth a list of crimes that are prohibited from being sealed or expunged, so it is important to seek the advice of competent legal counsel to determine if you are eligible for sealing or expunging your criminal records. Most cases will require your record to be sealed for a certain period of years before it can be expunged, that is part of the procedure; however, if there was a “no information” or a “nolle proseque” filed in your case, those documents permit you, in most cases, to skip the sealing requirement. This is not a quick process, it takes close to a year to complete, depending on how overwhelmed the government is with requests. In order to qualify, you must not have received an adjudication of guilt and your crime cannot be on the prohibition list.
For more information regarding sealing and/or expunging a criminal record, please contact the law office of Schwam-Wilcox & Associates by calling 407-245-7700, by emailing or by visiting our website at

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