In our first post on the expungement process, we began by pointing out both the significant impact a criminal record can have on an offender’s life, particularly in obtaining housing and employment, and that there are limitations as to what criminal records may be expunged or sealed. The difference, which we forgot to mention, is that sealing one’s record prevents the public from accessing it (though not certain government agencies), while expunging a record prevents even government agencies from having access to a record without a court order.
The first step in any expungement case is to file an application with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for a Certificate of Eligibility, which is a document stating that a record is eligible under state law for having a record sealed or expunged. Being eligible for expungement does not mean, though, that a given record will actually be expunged. That is a matter of discretion for the court.
In the event that an application for a Certificate of Eligibility is denied, it is possible to have the denial reviewed or appealed. If the denial is based on the provision of incorrect information, one can go through the established process of correcting that information and having one’s application reconsidered on that basis. If the denial is based on a disagreement about the application of the law, the decision can be appealed to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and handled by the appropriate court.
Needless to say, an applicant who is considering an appeal of their application does well to work with an experienced attorney to ensure they have guidance navigating the system and advocacy of their interests.