Juvenile Expungement (Sealing Criminal Records)

Last Modified: 01/03/2023

Having a publicly available criminal history can be an obstacle to those trying to get an education, find housing, or build a career. Under some circumstances, people in the state of Florida can petition to have their criminal history sealed or expunged. 

Having your criminal record “sealed” means that it is no longer available to the public, with certain exceptions such as if you are attempting to purchase a firearm or work with children, are a defendant in a criminal court case, etc. When your criminal record is “expunged,” a court order is required for anyone to gain access to it. There are many specific rules and qualifications that decide if someone is eligible to have their adult criminal history expunged.

So that childhood mistakes do not determine your entire future, the process works a little differently for juvenile criminal history. Criminal offenses as a minor (before the age of 18, with some exceptions) are automatically expunged after a period of time — usually at age 21 or 26. Aside from this automatic expungement, you also have the ability to apply for early expungement if you are between the ages of 18 and 21. Some juvenile defendants can also be eligible to have their records expunged after completing a diversion program.

Criminal history expungements are conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Read below for more information on how expungement works, and if you or someone in your family is having difficulty getting their juvenile criminal history expunged, contact CLSMF for legal advice.

You have to qualify in order to have your criminal history expunged. Some criminal histories cannot be expunged, depending on the type of crime charged, whether you were adjudicated as an adult, and other circumstances.

Read below for more information on how expungement works and which criminal charges are not eligible. If you or someone in your family is having difficulty getting a juvenile criminal history expunged, contact CLSMF for legal advice.

If you are trying to seal or expunge criminal history for charges you received as an adult, please visit our related topic page: Criminal History Sealing and Expungement.

WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS?

The court only keeps an active record of your criminal history as a juvenile for a set number of years, and in most cases your record will either be expunged when you turn 21 years of age or 26. There are exceptions to this timeline, depending on what crime you were charged with or convicted of.

The rules and qualifications for automatic juvenile expungement are defined by Florida Statutes Section 943.0583

You will qualify to have your juvenile criminal history automatically expunged 2 years after you turn 19 (at 21 years old) if you meet these qualifications:

  • You have not been charged with, or convicted of, a forcible felony after turning 18;
  • You were never adjudicated as an adult for a forcible felony before you turned 18;
  • You were not classified as a “serious or habitual juvenile offender”; and
  • You were not committed to a juvenile correctional facility or juvenile prison.
  • If you have been classified as a “serious or habitual juvenile offender” or were committed to a juvenile correctional facility or juvenile prison you still qualify to have your juvenile criminal history automatically expunged 5 years after you turn 21 (at 26 years old) if you meet these qualifications:
  • You have not been charged with, or convicted of, a forcible felony after turning 18; and
  • You were never adjudicated as an adult for a forcible felony before you turned 18.
  • If your juvenile criminal history has not been expunged yet, and as an adult you were charged with or convicted of a forcible felony, your juvenile criminal record will be merged with your adult criminal record and cannot be expunged. The same is true if you were still a minor but were adjudicated as an adult (you were legally treated as an adult in the judgement of your court case) for a forcible felony.

Forcible felonies include:

  • Treason;
  • Murder;
  • Manslaughter;
  • Sexual battery;
  • Carjacking;
  • Home-invasion robbery;
  • Robbery;
  • Burglary;
  • Arson;
  • Kidnapping;
  • Aggravated assault;
  • Aggravated battery;
  • Aggravated stalking;
  • Aircraft piracy;
  • Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb; and
  • Any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.

You have the right to petition (or ask) the court to expunge your juvenile criminal record before the automatic expungement process would take effect. You can only do this if you meet these qualifications:

  • You are at least 18 years old and are younger than 21 years old;
  • You have not been charged by the state attorney with, or found to have committed, any criminal offense within five years of your application date;
  • You must not currently be under court supervision (such as probation) because of the arrest or alleged criminal activity you are attempting to expunge; and
  • You must meet all of the requirements that would make you eligible for automatic expungement at age 21. (See Automatic Juvenile Criminal History Expungement.)

The rules and qualifications for early juvenile expungement are defined by Florida Statutes Section 943.0583.

In order to have your juvenile criminal record expunged early, you must be approved by the state attorney for each circuit where your criminal offenses occurred. If you are trying to expunge multiple offenses which happened in more than one jurisdiction, you do not need to file separate petitions for each circuit.

Information about your arrest is kept by law enforcement agencies, even if you haven’t been charged or convicted by the court. This law enforcement record is your “non-judicial” arrest record. (Your “judicial” criminal history is the information about your criminal cases that is collected and saved by the court.)

For misdemeanor arrests, a minor may have the option to complete a court-approved diversion program to help them take responsibility for their actions and steer them away from future criminal behavior. Only after this program is completed can they apply for Juvenile Diversion Expungement to have their non-judicial arrest record expunged.

The rules for Juvenile Diversion Expungement and qualifying programs are defined by Florida Statute Section 943.0582.

Your application for Juvenile Diversion Expungement may be denied if any of the following applies to you:

  • You did not successfully complete your juvenile diversion program;
  • Your arrest was for a felony offense;
  • You were charged by the state attorney with a criminal offense related to the arrest you are trying to expunge;
  • You were found guilty/adjudicated delinquent of a criminal offense related to the arrest you are trying to expunge; or
  • You have been charged with, found guilty/adjudicated delinquent of a seperate criminal offense before your application was received.

 

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO?

Make and store copies of all documents related to your criminal history. This includes documents about arrests, charges, or convictions and documents you submit or receive through the expungement process.

You may request a personal review of your criminal history from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement here: Criminal History Personal Review.

If you are unsure about whether you qualify for a sealing or expungement, you can ask for a Certificate of Eligibility.

The Certificate will certify that your record is eligible for sealing or expungement.
It does not mean that your criminal history record will be ordered sealed or expunged by the court.

You will still need to file 1.) a Petition to Seal or Expunge with the 2.) Certificate of Eligibility and the 3.) required affidavit.

Fill out the application for a Certificate of Eligibility.  You can download it from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s website at FDLE Form Renderer.

You can request a blank form by emailing the FDLE at [email protected].

Make sure to get a copy of the Written Certified Statement page of your application signed by the appropriate state attorney or statewide prosecutor.

You must also include a certified disposition (sentence and judgement) for each criminal charge that you are applying to have expunged. You can get a certified disposition from the clerk of court in the county where the charge originated.

If you were placed on probation for any charges, include documents to prove that your probation has ended.

If you finished pre-trial intervention or other diversion programs for any charges, documents proving that you completed the program (such as a pretrial completion certificate or a letter of successful completion) can be substituted for the certified disposition.

Complete the fingerprint card included with your application. You must be fingerprinted by an authorized member of law enforcement or other criminal justice agency.

The form must include your name, date of birth, signature, and date.

The form must include the signature of the official taking your fingerprints and the agency’s ORI/stamp.

You must also pay a nonrefundable $75 processing fee by including a check or money order made payable to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement with your application.

Include a letter of representation on attorney letterhead (with mailing address) if you are being represented by an attorney and want them to receive correspondence from FDLE.

Mail your completed application and all other necessary documents to:

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement

Attn: Expunge Section

Post Office Box 1489

Tallahassee, Florida 32302-1489

Remember that, depending on the qualifications you meet, your juvenile criminal history might be automatically expunged when you turn 21 or 26.

Fill out the application for early juvenile expungement — Section A must be signed by the applicant in front of a Notary Public or Deputy Clerk of Court.

There are 2 ways to get the application:

Make sure to get a copy of the Written Certified Statement page of your application signed by the appropriate state attorney or statewide prosecutor.

You must also include a certified disposition (sentence and judgement) for each criminal charge that you are applying to have expunged. You can get a certified disposition from the clerk of court in the county where the charge originated.

  •  If you were placed on probation for any charges, include documents to prove that your probation has ended.
  • If you finished pre-trial intervention or other diversion programs for any charges, documents proving that you completed the program (such as a pretrial completion certificate or a letter of successful completion) can be substituted for the certified disposition.
  • Complete the fingerprint card included with your application:
  • You must be fingerprinted by an authorized member of law enforcement or other criminal justice agency.
  • The form must include your name, date of birth, signature, and date.
  • The form must include the signature of the official taking your fingerprints and the agency’s ORI/stamp.
  • You must also pay a nonrefundable $75 processing fee by including a check or money order made payable to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement with your application.
  • Include a letter of representation on attorney letterhead (with mailing address) if you are being represented by an attorney and want them to receive correspondence from FDLE.
  • Mail your completed application and all other necessary documents to:

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement

Attn: Expunge Section

Post Office Box 1489

Tallahassee, Florida 32302-1489

WHAT TO CONSIDER BEFORE TAKING ACTION?

Once the Florida Department of Law Enforcement approves your juvenile criminal history expungement, they will send all of the law enforcement agencies involved in your expunged cases a notification stating that they have complied with the expungement statutes. This means that any law enforcement agency other than FDLE must physically destroy their copy of your record. FDLE will be the only agency with your juvenile criminal history, which can only be accessed with a court order.

Your criminal history will generally be unavailable to anyone without a court order, including you. If any person or agency, law enforcement or otherwise, tries to access your criminal history without a court order, they will only see “Criminal History Record Expunged Pursuant to Florida Statutes 943.”

You are legally allowed to refuse to acknowledge the related arrests or outright deny them — even under oath —after your criminal history has been expunged. This right does not apply if you are:

  • A defendant in a criminal prosecution;
  • Petitioning for another expungement or sealing;
  • Seeking to become appointed as a guardian;
  • A candidate for employment with a criminal justice agency;
  • A candidate for employment with the Florida Bar;
  • Seeking to be employed or licensed by or to contract with the Department of Children and Family Services, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation within the Department of Education, the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Department of Health, the Department of Elderly Affairs, or the Department of Juvenile Justice or to be employed or used by such contractor or licensee in a sensitive position having direct contact with children, the disabled, or the elderly;
  • Seeking to be employed or licensed by the Department of Education, any district school board, any university laboratory school, any charter school, any private or parochial school, or any local governmental entity that licenses child care facilities; or
  • Seeking to be licensed by the Division of Insurance Agent and Agency Services within the Department of Financial Services.

The organizations listed above will only see your demographic information and a notice that you have criminal history which has been expunged. They will still be unable to access information about that criminal history (arrest details, charges filed, or dispositions) without a court order.

There are a large number of websites which have no connection to the criminal justice system that might post your mugshot or other information about your arrest online. Since these are private companies, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement does not have the authority to make them remove that content.

You may see advertisements or be contacted by companies that promise to erase your criminal history from the internet for a fee. Be careful when considering such services, as some of them are connected to the same websites that posted your information in the first place, and you could end up paying large amounts to only have your criminal details removed from a fraction of the websites they appear on.

Expungement will not affect previously written online content, such as newspaper articles or social media posts.

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