Articles Posted in Expunging and Sealing Criminal Records

Police frequently conduct searches of individuals based on a reasonable suspicion.  A brief investigative detention based on a reasonable suspicion is called a “Terry Stop”.

What is Reasonable Suspicion?

Reasonable suspicion is a term that is used to refer to a police officer’s reasonably justifiable suspicion that a person had committed a crime or was in the process of committing one, or was about to commit one.  Where the officer believes that a crime may have been committed or is about to be committed, he or she may make a temporary detention of the suspect and may proceed to pat them down.

In the state of Florida, a person who has any alcohol in his or her body is prohibited from being in physical control of a motor vehicle.  F.S. 322.62.  The penalties for violation of this law result in being placed out of service immediately for a twenty four hour period.  If one has a blood alcohol level of .04 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or a breath-alcohol level of .04 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath, he or she is exposed to additional penalties that are enumerated in F.S. 322.61.  The ramifications could result in adverse effects on one’s livelihood with restrictions on the operation of a commercial vehicle.

What Are the Possible Ramifications of a Single Drink?

A single drink can result in fulfilling the first element of proof required to prove a DUI charge.  The next element required to meet the definition of a DUI in Florida is proof that an individual was driving a motor vehicle within the state of Florida.  The last element required to prove a DUI case is that the offender’s normal faculties are impaired.  The last element may be proven by an officer’s belief that the driver was impaired and or by the smell of alcohol on his or her breath, slurred speech, difficulty standing, walking in a straight line, based on a field sobriety test.  This is a non inclusive list.

Is There a Warrant Issued in My Name?

There are numerous warrants issued for almost every type of crime that occurs in Florida.  The warrant system is used to apprehend criminals and those accused of a crime.  Despite the belief that warrants expire, they do not.  Additionally, warrants can be executed at anytime.  Just because you may not be located within the territory of the state that issued a warrant, you are not safe from exposure to arrest.  It is common for warrants to be issued for both felonies and misdemeanors in Florida.  A warrant will be active until it is served, the individual dies, or the judge recalls the warrant.  It is important to resolve a warrant promptly, so one does not have to deal with a multitude of problems unexpectedly.  Your arrest could result from the most minor traffic stop for a tailgate light.

The FDLE has a database which usually lists active warrants and may be found online at http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/.  You can select “search wanted persons” and you will be taken to a search screen.

When Should You File a Post Conviction Relief Motion in Florida?

A motion for post conviction relief is a motion that is filed after an individual is convicted of a crime where the court is being asked to relieve a person from their conviction.  The following grounds may be used as the reason for filing:

  1. The sentence imposed was illegal or violates the Florida or United States Constitution.

What Are the Potential Costs?

When an individual is charged with theft or shoplifting in Florida, he or she faces potentially serious penalties.  This can affect one’s ability to secure a job because such a crime is classified as a crime of dishonesty.  This is significant even though a misdemeanor is typically considered relatively insignificant.  When a potential employer performs a background check and finds a conviction for such a crime in a candidate’s history, it may disqualify the candidate depending on the type of job.  The penalties for shoplifting or retail theft include jail, fines, civil penalties, restitution, court costs, and attorney’s fees.  In the event one is convicted a Grand Theft in Florida, they may be sentenced a prison.

How Does Florida Law Define Retail Theft?

Conceal CarryThe Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (the Department) issues licenses to carry concealed weapons or concealed firearms in the State of Florida and they are good for 7 years.  Concealed weapons or concealed firearms are defined as a handgun, electronic weapon or device, tear gas gun, knife, or billie, but does not include a machine gun. You must carry the license at all times you have possession of the weapon or firearm and must display the license and valid I.D. upon demand by a law enforcement officer or be assessed a $25 fine for a violation.

According to section 790.06, Florida Statutes, the Department shall deny a license if the applicant has been found guilty of, had adjudication of guilt withheld for, or had imposition of sentence suspended for one or more crimes of violence constituting a misdemeanor, unless 3 years have elapsed since probation or any other conditions set by the court have been fulfilled or the record has been sealed or expunged.  The Department shall revoke a license if the licensee has been found guilty of, had adjudication of guilt withheld for, or had imposition of sentence suspended for one or more crimes of violence within the preceding 3 years.

The Department shall, upon notification by a law enforcement agency, a court, or the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and subsequent written verification, suspend a license or the processing of an application for a license if the licensee or applicant is arrested or formally charged with a crime that would disqualify such person from having a license until final disposition of the case. The Department shall suspend a license or the processing of an application for a license if the licensee or applicant is issued an injunction that restrains the licensee or applicant from committing acts of domestic violence or acts of repeat violence.

Being arrested can be a scary and very embarrassing ordeal.  After an arrest, a person’s criminal record is public information and can be viewed on request by pretty much anyone.  That means that a nosy neighbor, friends and family, or even your employer can look into why you were arrested and what happened.  Most often, people want their criminal records sealed for purposes of finding or keeping employment.  Sometimes, others are solely focused on avoiding the embarrassment of the offense that landed them in jail being a matter of public record.

criminal record sealFlorida law, under Florida Statute 943.059, allows a court to seal criminal records.  As long as the person attempting to seal a criminal record has never actually been convicted of a crime, the process is normally simple and straight forward.  The law allows for the sealing of one criminal offense, but if one incident resulted in multiple offenses, then they all can be eligible for sealing.  Separate, unrelated offenses cannot all be sealed.  Only one can be chosen.  In some instances, the State of Florida, through the State Attorney’s Office, may object to a criminal record being sealed.  However, the vast majority of requests go unopposed by the State.  There are some offenses that cannot be sealed, even if there are no convictions on a person’s record.  For example, many sexually motivated offenses cannot be sealed. Continue reading

I recently read article entitled, “20 Celebrities You Never Knew Had Criminal Records.”   According to vh1.com, stars from Tim Allen to Will Smith have arrest records.  Al Pacino, was once arrested for suspicion of robbery.  Pacino and a friend were arrested after police came across the pair sitting in a car with black masks; a gun was found in the truck of the car.  Charges were later dropped when it was explained that the two were actors on their way to a “job”.  For the celebrities listed, their careers appear to be unaffected by their criminal records.  For others, it could be very important that you seal or expunge your criminal record.  This is more important when there is a crime of dishonestly or a crime of moral turpitude involved.  These are crimes that cast a negative light on a person’s character.  Offenses like theft and fraud fall into this category of crimes.
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Under Florida law, a person that has never been convicted of a crime can have charges associated with an incident sealed or expunged.  The difference between the two is slight, but important enough to seek expunction, if a person qualifies.  When a persons record is sealed, background checks by ordinary people or companies will yield no results.  Government agencies can still view the records, however.  When a person’s record is expunged, there is an added layer of protection- government agencies can still view the record, but will require a court order to do so.  Expunging records can only be accomplished when the charges were dropped or the person was acquitted.  If you plead guilty and received a withhold of adjudication, you are only eligible to have your record sealed.

Certain offenses cannot be sealed or expunged.  The Law Office of David M. Goldman PLLC can help seal or expunge your criminal record where the law allows.  Call us today at (904) 685-1200 for a free consultation with one of our experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers.

Recently, there have been a series of shootings in Jacksonville.  In some instances, there were people that were struck by gunfire.  These violent stories regarding crime circulate quickly because of the shock value associated with them.  Florida’s 10-20-life sentencing scheme also make these stories stand out.  However, in my experience as a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, the average criminal case is not the one that makes the news.  The defendant is not a scary person behind the trigger of a gun, but a normal, average Joe type that has made a bad decision in a single moment.  Other times, it’s someone who hasn’t done a single thing wrong, but is instead the unfortunate victim of circumstance.  Whether the crime is  Racing/Reckless Driving; Assault/Battery;  Possession of Marijuana; or Theft, anyone could find themselves in need of a criminal defense lawyer.

A criminal defense lawyer is important for someone that doesn’t have a history of being in trouble just as much as it is for the repeat offender.  In some instances, a criminal defense attorney is able to point out circumstances that show clearly that a client is innocent and convince the State that no charges should be filed.  Having charges thrown out without ever being filed is the best outcome, but is more likely to happen  when your criminal defense lawyer has been brought in very soon after arrest.  Other times, when the facts are against you, a good criminal defense attorney, with enough experience to properly evaluate your case, can help present mitigation and negotiate the best possible outcome for your situation.

At the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, we have criminal defense lawyers with years of experience that can help you or a loved one in your time of need.  Initial consultations are always free.  Whether you have traffic tickets, or something more serious, call us today at (904) 685-1200 to find out how we can help.

Jacksonville Criminal LawyerWhat would I have to do to get my Criminal Record Expunged in Florida? This question is presented to my numerous times a week and unfortunately, there is not a simply, straightforward answer. So as the cliché attorney answer, “it depends.”

As a Jacksonville Criminal Attorney who handles Florida Record Seals and Record Expunges, the first step is determining if an individual is eligible. This eligibility balances on the adjudication of the offense in question. If you were convicted, you are NOT eligible for a Record Seal or Record Expunge. If your charges were dropped, you would potentially be eligible for a Record Expunge. If your case ended with Adjudication being Withheld, then you would potentially be eligible for a Record Seal.

After determining the Adjudication of your offence, the next step, in my opinion, would be to contact a Jacksonville Criminal Attorney to discuss the process in moving forward. Until then, I will briefly explain the process. First you must get the criminal record from the Clerk of Court in the County in which the offense occurred. Then you must submit the required paperwork to the FDLE who will evaluate your case and make a determination as to your eligibility. If approved, you will be sent a letter of eligibility. At this point, you will have to petition the Court to have your Record sealed or expunged. In my personal experience in dealing with these matters, the process takes between 4 to 6 months.

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