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Florida Court Records

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Are Criminal Records Public In Florida?

Florida Criminal Records are public and can be accessed by interested persons except if the record has been expunged or sealed. Florida’s law on criminal records under Section 943.053 determines the state’s law enforcement policy on the release of criminal justice information. The Division of Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) collates and maintains criminal records for all individuals. This division is tasked with providing public access to these records on request.

Note, criminal records on juveniles are confidential and may only be obtained by authorized persons including;

  • The subject in the record
  • An attorney representing the subject
  • The parent or legal guardian of the subject where the subject has not reached the age of majority
  • An approved agency involved in criminal justice
  • An agency or entity that has direct responsibility for employment, access authorization, or licensure decisions.

What Is Included In A Criminal Record In Florida?

A criminal record sometimes referred to as a rap sheet, is a document that provides detailed information on an individual’s illegal activities. It is a compilation of an individual’s non-expunged criminal offenses and may also include traffic offenses.

The charges and offenses are recorded in a criminal record by the local and state law enforcement agencies in Florida. It includes all arrests, convictions, dismissed charges, pending charges, and charges of which the individual has been discharged.

The details of a rap sheet identify the subject by:

  • The full name (including known aliases)
  • Biographical data including date of birth, nationality/ethnicity, and sex
  • Details of arrest and other outstanding warrants
  • A set of fingerprints
  • Details of unique physical features
  • A mugshot and other specific physical descriptions
  • Nature of the crime (felony or misdemeanor).
  • Previous charges
  • The date of the conviction
  • Conviction sentence
  • Arrest history, accusations, and pending dispositions

A criminal record also shows if the subject has entered and completed a ‘diversion’ program, such as the Felony Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI).

How To Look Up My Criminal Records In Florida?

Individuals that seek to look up their criminal records may find them at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). Criminal history information in Florida is centrally maintained and provided by the FDLE via its Division of Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS). Law enforcement agencies in Florida, including the police departments, probate departments, district attorney offices, sheriffs, and courts, are required to submit all arrest records and other related crime records in their custody to the FDLE.

Hence, requestors may place a request for a personal criminal record by submitting a completed Criminal History Information Request Form. In filling the request form, it is necessary to provide authentic personal information. The subject’s name, alongside any aliases, date of birth, sex, and race, is needed to process the request. The requestor’s social security number is not mandatory, but should be included to facilitate the accuracy of the search.

A completed request form may be mailed or submitted in person to the address below;

Florida Department of Law Enforcement

Criminal History Services

PO Box 1489

Tallahassee, FL 32302

The average processing time for a criminal history record check is five business days, while processing time for a certified record is 6–7 business days. If a Spanish copy or certified record check is desired, requestors may indicate these by utilizing the checkboxes on the form.

For internet searches, a requestor may immediately visit the Florida Criminal History Search website and get the uncertified criminal records. The records can then be printed directly or emailed. Records cost $24.00 per search and a $1.00 credit card processing fee, which is payable by debit or credit card. Florida allows an ORI Based Florida Criminal History Search, but the requestor must provide a valid ORI to search. The cost of each search differs depending on the agency, statute, or authorized entity.

How Can I Get My Criminal Records For Free In Florida?

Criminal records in Florida may only be obtained at a nominal fee of $24.00 per search. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), as the agency providing copies of criminal records, does not offer waivers for the processing fee.

However, the agency provides a reduced price to search criminal records of volunteers of certain qualified entities. These entities include organizations providing care to children, elderly or disabled persons that request a search via the Volunteer and Employee Criminal History System (VECHS). A check via the VECHS for these individuals cost $18 each.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party websites may vary.

How To Search Criminal Records Online In Florida?

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) provides an online portal where the public may request criminal records. However, the online portal only provides uncertified criminal records. To search for criminal records online in Florida, follow this procedure;

  • Log on to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement portal and fill in the required information accurately. The needed information includes; name as written on the payment card, billing address, state, zip/postal code, country, and email.
  • After filling customer information, the next phase is the entry of search criteria. The accuracy of the information provided is what determines the search results.
  • Confirm the information provided and accept the $25.00 fee for the search. Endeavor to keep the receipt in case of any internet service problems that make it impossible to complete the search process.
  • Search results will be provided directly to the browser screen and may be emailed.

In an online search, the search results page displays the possible matches based on the information the applicant provides. Hence, why it is vital to provide accurate information. The search results page will display any of the following outcomes with regards to each check;

  • A single-subject matched the search criteria.
  • No record was found on the subject.
  • There were multiple possible matches.

How long does a DUI stay on my Criminal Record in Florida?

A Driving Under Influence (DUI) conviction in Florida stays on the criminal record of an individual for life and cannot be sealed or expunged. It is also recorded on the driver’s license of an offender and will remain there for 75 years. A DUI conviction is a severe offense in Florida, just like other states in the United States. Florida does not allow the withholding of judgment for DUI offenses because of how serious the crime is considered. While other crimes may be sealed or expunged if they meet up with the requirements, a DUI may not be removed from an individual’s criminal record.

In Florida, when an individual commits a DUI for the first time, it is treated as a misdemeanor in most cases except if it results in an accident with severe injuries or death. A DUI may also be classified as a felony if there are any prior DUI convictions. In both cases, the DUI convictions may not be removed from the subject’s criminal record.

How To Get Criminal Records Expunged In Florida?

Individuals that qualify to have their criminal records expunged in Florida may appeal to the court where the conviction took place. The Florida Statute §§ 943.0585, 943.059 on court-ordered expunctions of criminal history records defines persons eligible to have their records expunged. An eligible person may appeal to have his/her criminal records expunged if;

  • The subject is not appealing to expunge a criminal history record that is ineligible for expunction under s. 943.0584.
  • A charge, evidence, or other charging document was not filed or issued in the case.
  • A charge, evidence, or other charging documents that were filed or issued in the case was set aside or nolle prosequi by the state attorney or a court of qualified jurisdiction.
  • A verdict of “not guilty” or acquittal was rendered by a judge
  • The person has never been adjudicated guilty for a felony or a severe misdemeanor, (as of the date the application for a certificate of expunction is filed)

Under this code, expunged records are no longer accessible to the public except in rare cases where a request is placed based on a court order or statutory authorization.

A person must apply for a certificate of eligibility for expunction at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) before the expungement process can start. The certificate of eligibility for expunction will only be issued to subjects who;

  • Meet up with the requirements for eligibility
  • Have submitted a certified copy of the disposition of the charge to which the petition to expunge pertains
  • Have submitted to the FDLE a written certified statement from the appropriate state attorney or statewide prosecutor, which verifies the criminal history record.
  • Pays a $75 processing fee to the department unless the executive director waives the fee

A certificate of eligibility for expunction expires and cannot be used after 12 months has passed from the date stamped on the certificate when issued by the department. If the certificate expires before it is used, the petitioner will have to reapply to the FDLE for a new certificate of eligibility.

The documents required for a petition to have criminal records expunged include; A valid certificate of eligibility issued by the FDLE and the petitioner’s sworn statement of;

  • Being eligible for expunction in accordance with the state statute and does not have any other pending petition to expunge or seal a criminal history record before any court.
  • Having satisfies all eligibility requirements for expunction, as stated in the statute.

If the petitioner meets up with all the requirements, the court may then order the appropriate criminal justice agencies to expunge the criminal history record of the subject. It takes between five to seven months to have records expunged.

How To Get Criminal Records Sealed In Florida?

In Florida, arrests that do not result in a conviction are recorded on a person’s criminal history. This record happens even though such arrests did not result in a conviction or the charges were dropped. Persons that have a case similar to this may petition to have such criminal history information sealed under the Florida Statute § 943.0595.

An eligible person may appeal to have his/her criminal records sealed under this statute if;

  • A charge or charging document was not filed.
  • A charge or charging document was filed in the case but was nolle prosequi or set aside by the state attorney.
  • A judge passed a “not guilty” verdict on the subject. However, if the defendant was found “not guilty” by reason of insanity, the record may not be sealed.
  • A judge acquitted the subject.

The sealing of criminal records may be done either;

  • Automatically
  • By court order

How To Get Criminal Records Sealed Automatically In Florida?

Suppose a subject’s criminal history record qualifies to be sealed automatically; In that case, the court’s clerk will deliver a certified copy of the disposition of the criminal history record to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). Consequently, the FDLE seals the criminal history record after receiving the certified copy. Unlike the process of expungement, it does not require the involvement of court processes or applications to criminal justice agencies. Furthermore, an automatically sealed record is maintained by the FDLE and other criminal justice agencies.

How To Get Criminal Records Sealed By Court Order In Florida?

In addition to the requirements for sealing criminal records, in a court-ordered process, the petitioner must also;

  • Not be under court supervision applicable to the disposition of arrest or alleged criminal activity to which the petition to seal pertains.
  • Never have secured a prior sealing or expunction of a criminal history record.

A petitioner may apply to the department for a certificate of eligibility for sealing on meeting the required conditions. The process here is similar to the operation of seeking an expungement. It also requires a $75 processing fee payable to the FDLE, except if the executive director waives the fee. The petition will be submitted to the court alongside the certificate of eligibility to complete the process.

Who Can See My Sealed Criminal Record In Florida?

In Florida, when a criminal record is sealed, the general public will not have access to it. According to the Law, only specific government agencies, law enforcement agencies, and the court system will be able to view sealed criminal history information. When a criminal history record is deleted, it will no longer appear during background checks conducted by potential employers; instead, the search results will read “Criminal History Record Expunged according to Florida Statutes 943."

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