Expunge or Seal A Florida Record:
Have You Ever Been Adjudicated Guilty
of a Crime?
If you want to apply to have your Florida criminal record sealed or expunged, you
need to find out if you are eligible. One big question to answer first is -
"Have you ever been adjudicated guilty of any criminal offense - anywhere?"
In Florida, under the regular seal and expungement process, you cannot seal or expunge
any nonjudicial criminal history record if you have ever been "adjudicated guilty" of any
criminal offense. This includes a violation of a city or county ordinance or a
traffic law that was classified as a criminal offense at the time of the event that led to your
arrest or the charge against you.
To determine if you were ever "adjudicated guilty" of a criminal offense, you need to
know the classification and final disposition of every charge against you, for every case involving a
criminal offense - including all local, state, federal, and military cases.
State, federal, and local jurisdictions have different definitions and classifications of
"criminal offenses". What may be a non-criminal city ordinance violation in one
jurisdiction may be a criminal county ordinance in another. The definitions and classifications can
also change. What might not be "criminal" today might have been classified as criminal at the
time of your case.
If you are trying to seal or expunge a Florida record and you have another record in
a different state or jurisdiction, you need to know if the other state or jurisdiction classified
the charge as "criminal". If it was classified as "criminal", then you need
to know the final disposition.
You need to review the final disposition document(s) of every case you had that was in a
different state or jurisdiction. Those documents should reference the specific law for each charge
and the disposition of each charge. If the documents do not indicate whether the charge was
criminal, you will need to review the law that applies to the charge. You will also need to
understand if the final disposition that appears on the document for your case means that
you were "adjudicated guilty".
Things can get complicated if you have multiple records or charges, especially if they are
in different jurisdictions. If this is your situation, you should consider discussing your
situation with an attorney familiar with Florida seal and expunge laws. If you review your
records on your own, the bottom line is this: If you see a final disposition (adjudication)
of "guilty" for any criminal offense (not the plea and not "found guilty"),
whether it is in Florida or any other state or jurisdiction, and if that disposition is correct,
you are not eligible to seal or expunge any nonjudicial criminal history record in Florida.
Florida records - for charges as an adult
If the final disposition of a charge for a criminal offense in your record was "adjudication withheld",
you were not "adjudicated guilty" for that charge. You may have been
"found guilty" for that charge, but, if adjudication was withheld, you were not adjudicated guilty.
If the final disposition (not your plea) of a charge for a criminal offense in your record was "guilty",
you were "adjudicated guilty" for that charge. Unfortunately,
this means that you are not eligible to have that record or any other nonjudicial Florida criminal history
record sealed or expunged (through the
regular seal and expungement process).
If you were "found guilty" or you "pled guilty", that does not necessarily mean
you were "adjudicated guilty". You have to know the final disposition for the charge.
The best way to find the final disposition of the charges in your record is to review the
court papers or other case disposition documents that you received when your case was
completed or resolved.
If you do not already have the dispositions for all of your Florida criminal charges, and
if there was a court case related to the charges, you can 1) look for the disposition of the
charges in your case on the website for the Clerk of Court
in the county where your record is located (if the record is available online); 2) obtain the
court documents from the Clerk of Court (or other disposition authority for the specific charges);
or 3) obtain your Florida criminal history record maintained by the Florida Department of Law
If you have a traffic record that includes a criminal traffic offense (such as DUI) in Florida, you need to
know the final disposition of that case. It might not be in your Florida criminal history with FDLE. It might only be
in records at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). You can
order your "complete driving history record" from the DHSMV and review it for
criminal traffic charges and the dispositions that might not appear in your record at FDLE.
(You can also order your Florida driving record through the Firm.)
As you review documents that relate to your criminal record(s), check for the
following: a final disposition of "guilty" (not the plea and not
"found guilty") for any of the criminal charges in your entire criminal record;
if that disposition is correct, it means that you were "adjudicated guilty" of a
criminal offense. Unfortunately, it also means that you are not eligible to seal or expunge any
nonjudicial Florida criminal history record.
If you have a final disposition of "adjudicated guilty" for any criminal offense -
anywhere - you will not be able to seal or expunge any nonjudicial Florida criminal history record.
If you have only one criminal history record and it is in Florida, and if any
disposition for any charge in that record is "adjudicated guilty", you cannot seal
or expunge any part of that record - even if the other charges in that record were all dismissed.