The most difficult aspect about the expungement process for most people is the time it takes to get to the end result. People often decide they want a sealing or expungement after either the denial of a job opportunity or a loan. Afterwards, they call and ask if they can get their record expunged.
When they find out it might take 6 months to a year for the process to reach fruition, they sometimes feel the process defeats the purpose. They need something done immediately. However, it doesn’t work that way.
The downside to this is the delay and the time it takes to get the certificate of eligibility, which has nothing to do with the lawyer. The certificate involves the prosecutor in the case of an expungement, and the FDLE in the case of an expungement or a sealing. FDLE ultimately provides the certificate of eligibility that is required before one can file a motion to expunge or seal.
What Are The Costs Associated With An Expungement, Like Attorney’s Fee?
The local law enforcement charges to take fingerprints, which is required for submitting the application. This runs from $5 to $10.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement presently charges a $75 processing fee when someone submits the application to receive a certificate of eligibility. After this, the clerk of court sends out certified copies of the order of sealing or expungement to the law enforcement agencies and the prosecutor. The fee for copying and certifying generally runs in the neighborhood of $50.
In total, it costs maybe $135, out-of-pocket in addition to the attorney’s fee.
Can A Person Expunge Only One Charge If He Has Several Charges?
A person is limited to one sealing or expungement in his lifetime.
If the person has multiple charges from one case that came from the same fact scenario, like a hit-and-run as a result of reckless driving, all of this can be included as a single incident.
The court treats this as the person’s first time if he qualifies for a sealing or expungement of both of those charges. Related counts or related allegations in one case can be treated as just one time for sealing or expunging.
However, if someone had separated cases that occurred on separate dates and were not related, then he could only choose one of these cases to seal or expunge, if he qualifies.
How Many Times Could I Get Something Expunged From My Record?
In Florida, a person is given one sealing and one expungement as a result of that sealing. He is given only one chance.
If someone had a case in which he was entitled to an expungement, and he exercised this right to expunge the case, then he would never be able to expunge or seal a case again in the state of Florida.
Someone with a case that included multiple counts would be entitled to have all of these cases either sealed or expunged. However, if he was charged with a theft on one day and a theft on another day, then he has two separate cases, even though they might be combined for the sake of judicial economy in court. In this case, only one of these can be sealed or expunged, if he otherwise qualifies.
Multiple counts of the same incident can be combined; however, separate counts relating to separate incidents cannot.
Is a Person Unqualified For An Expungement After a Certain Number of Years?
No. No statute of limitations exists for seeking a sealing or expungement.
As such, someone with an old case that was either dismissed or someone who received withheld adjudication could use his right and move to seal or expunge that record 10 or 20 years later.
A time limit does exist in setting the motion to get the order. If the person goes through the process of getting the certificate of eligibility, then that certificate is only good for a year from the issue date.
Therefore, if the person receives the certificate and doesn’t act on it within the year, he must go back to the beginning and apply for the certificate once more.
Is There Anything A Person Can Do To Make It Easier Or Make The Expungement Go Smoothly?
A person cannot do anything except hope he receives a prompt lawyer, one who sends out all required information and responds to it quickly. Once the lawyer gets the approval from the state attorney, he must send it to the FDLE as soon as possible to receive the certificate of eligibility as soon as possible.
Usually, it only takes a week or two to schedule a hearing on the motion after the certificate comes in. The long expungement time is not the fault of the lawyer. The wait is a result of the other agencies that authorize the application and issue the certificate.
If I Had Letters From Employers To Validate My Character, Could this Help?
The process of sealing or expungement does not require a character reference or any other extraneous matter. The process only requires that the person qualify under the rules, fill out the proper application, get the proper authorization from the state attorney, get the certificate of eligibility from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, proceed to file an appropriate motion, and prepare the order for the judge. Nothing else is required.
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