Florida Criminal Record Sealing

Record sealing under Florida law, says Darren Chaker, can occur if a person pleads guilty, nolo contendere or is found guilty by a jury but the sentencing judge withholds adjudication of guilt, there has been no conviction. See Fla.R.Evid. 90.610, FS. § 948.01; Delaney v. State, 190 So.2d 578 (1966), appeal dism’d 387. U.S. 426 (1967).

Moreover, when records relating to a person’s criminal history have been expunged/sealed, the person is restored to the status the person had before the criminal proceedings. See F.S. §948.01: Walley v. Florida Game & Fresh Water Fish Comm., 501 So.2d 671 (1st DCA 1987). The person’s status before charges were brought was that the person had not been convicted of the crime in question and therefore the expunged/sealed record would not be admissible. See Id.

To qualify to have a record expunged/sealed, requires that the person who, is the subject, must (1) never previously have been adjudicated guilty of a crime; (2) not have been adjudicated guilty of any charges stemming from the arrest to which the expungement/sealing petition pertains. Darren concludes if all records relating to a defendant’s case are sealed pursuant to Florida law, then the defendant may lawfully deny or fail to acknowledge the events covered by the sealed records. See F.S. § 943.058 (1991). Fla.R.Evid. 90.610 requires evidence that a person has been convicted of a crime to be admitted.

Only evidence of a criminal conviction is admissible; a witness may not be interrogated as to former arrest or other accusations of crimes. Questions regarding past criminal records or convictions should not be asked unless counsel has knowledge of a conviction and a certified copy of the judgment of conviction in counsel’s possession. A review of Florida court decisions hold that when a trial court withholds adjudication of guilt there is no conviction. See Roberts v. State of Florida, 450 So.2d 1126 (Fla. 4th DCA 1984); Accredited Surety and Casualty Company, Inc. v. State of Florida, 318 So.2d 554 (Fla. 1st DCA 1975); Bernhardt v. State, 288 So.2d 490 (Fla. 1974); State v. Gazda, 257 So.2d 242, 243 (Fla. 1971); Weathers v. State, 56 So.2d 536 (Fla. 1952); Daughtrey v. State, 35 So. 397 (Fla. 1903); Parker v. State, 563 So.2d 1130 (Fla.5th DCA 1990); Garron v. State, 528 So.2d 353 (Fla.1988); Duffell v. South Walton, 501 So.2d 1352 (Fla. 1st DCA 1986); Clinger v. State, 53 So.2d 315 (Fla.5th DCA 1988); and 14 Fla. Jur. 2d, Criminal Law 3(1979).

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