Expungement Attorney in Ocala, Florida
None of us can claim to have lived a perfect life, and we’re all liable to make mistakes or get mixed up in situations that don’t reflect our true principles. If you’ve been accused or convicted of a crime in the past but have since gone on to reform your ways and make better choices, you may be interested in minimizing the impact these transgressions have on your life.
One option that may be available to you is expungement, which can help erase your criminal record. However, this path won’t be open to everyone, so it’s always best to consult with a criminal defense attorney to see if you qualify.
If you’d like legal help exploring the possibilities of expungement and are in Ocala, Florida, or the surrounding areas, give us a call at Defend Ocala. We proudly represent people throughout Marion County, Lake County, Clermont, Leesburg, Tavares, and Eustis.
What Is Expungement?
Expungement is a legal process where your criminal record is essentially erased. When you have your record expunged, the arrest, conviction, and record are officially sealed and cannot be accessed by the public. However, the record may still be accessible to certain court officials.
What Are the Benefits of Expungement?
Having your record sealed or expunged can be viewed as a major achievement and can signify a turning point in life. When you have your record expunged there are both practical and personal benefits, including:
Increased options for employment: Many employers perform criminal background checks on applicants as a part of the hiring process. Now you can legally claim you have no criminal record and when the employer searches your name, there will be no record. Additionally, you may now be eligible for certain professional licenses or certifications that your previous conviction barred you from which could include jobs in security, delivery driving, or working in a courthouse.
Ability to own a firearm: Many people who have been convicted of a crime are unable to purchase or carry a firearm, but when your record is expunged, this restriction will be lifted.
Increased options for housing: As with job hunting, potential landlords are also permitted to perform a background check on applicants trying to rent a home or apartment which could bar you from finding a place to live. An expunged record will no longer show up on this search.
Increased opportunity for community involvement: Depending on the nature of your past crime, you may have had limited options for working and volunteering in your community. For example, perhaps you’ve wanted to volunteer in your child’s school, but your criminal record has prevented this.
Peace of mind: Simply knowing that you no longer have a criminal record and the stigma that comes with it can bring you peace of mind.
What Is the Process?
The first step in this process is to submit an application for a Certificate of Eligibility. With this, you will also need to provide all necessary documentation to file your full petition. It typically takes around 90 days from when you file your application to when you receive your determination, though some cases may take several months. Unlike some other criminal and court proceedings, there is no statute of limitations for requesting expungement.
Who Is Eligible for Expungement?
Although the process of expungement is not overly complicated, there are restrictions on who can and cannot apply for it. To apply for expungement in Florida you must meet the following requirements:
You’re only requesting one record to be expunged unless the arrests were directly related.
You attest that you’ve never had a record expunged in the past (the only exception to this is with automatic expungements or expungements that occurred in another state).
You’ve not been convicted of a criminal violation in the state other than the one you’re seeking to expunge.
The record you’re requesting to expunge is eligible for expungement.
Who Is NOT Eligible?
There are dozens of criminal record histories that are not eligible for expungement. A few examples include:
Murder, manslaughter, or homicide
Assault or battery
Stalking or aggravated stalking
Additionally, no one who is currently on probation or house arrest may apply for expungement.
How a Criminal Justice Lawyer Can Help
Although the law doesn't require you to use a lawyer during this process, many people find it helpful to do so. The process and requirements can be fairly complex and may require you to navigate complicated channels and interpret legal jargon. Working with an experienced attorney right from the start can help ensure you have everything completed correctly the first time and have provided the right kind of evidence to support your petition.
Expungement Attorney Serving Ocala, Florida
At Defend Ocala, our attorney is committed to educating all our clients about their options and partnering with them throughout the entire process. If you’re in or near Ocala and would like to learn more about expunging a criminal record, contact our office to get started with a free consultation.