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A Guide to Florida's Criminal History Laws

Background checks are a common part of the job application process, and it is typical for an applicant’s criminal history record to be reviewed. The following provides information on the criminal history laws in Florida, as well as where the records are kept.

In Florida, the Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), Division of Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) is the state repository for criminal history records and other information. In addition to maintaining this information, the FDLE and CJIS also make criminal history information available to the public in certain situations. National and state criminal history records are available to governmental agencies for employment and licensing purposes. Furthermore, private persons and entities can submit requests in order to review such information through the FDLE’s official website.

Obtaining Criminal History Records

The FDLE website allows users to locate State of Florida criminal history records through the use of the FDLE Computerized Criminal History (CCH) search database. In order to locate information about a specific person through the FDLE website, information is needed about the person, including his or her full name, any aliases used, his or her date of birth or approximate age, race or sex. Though a social security number is not required, it would greatly increase the search results that are returned. A $24 fee is charged for the records request, regardless of whether any results are returned for the name that is submitted. Not all criminal history records can be accessed through the FDLE website, however. In fact, sealed records are only accessible in limited circumstances, and expunged criminal history information will not be released. Juvenile criminal history records that have not been expunged or sealed can only be released when the juvenile was taken into custody for an offense that would be considered a felony if committed by an adult.

Expunging and Sealing Criminal History Records

Expungement is the process of completely removing a criminal offense from a person’s criminal history. A court of competent jurisdiction in Florida can order that a criminal justice agency expunge the criminal history record of a minor or an adult who complies with the relevant state requirements. Additionally, those interested in criminal history record expungement can apply and be approved for a Certificate of Eligibility. Approval of the Certificate of Eligibility simply means that the individual has been deemed statutorily eligible to receive expungement relief. A Florida court still must actually rule that the criminal record be expunged in order for the info to be inaccessible to the public.

A criminal record can also be sealed in order to prevent access by the general public. A Certificate of Eligibility must also be filed in attempt to seal records. Upon order of a Florida court, the sealed criminal record(s) cannot be accessed by the public. However, certain governmental institutions and other related agencies may be able to gain limited access to a sealed record. While a court order is needed to access an expunged record, a sealed record can be accessed in limited circumstances without a court order approving the request.

Contact a Miami Criminal Attorney Today

Laws pertaining to criminal records in Florida can be complex and confusing. If you have any questions or need representation by a criminal attorney in Miami, reach out to our office for help. Criminal defense attorney Jeff S. Weiner, P.C. is prepared to help you in whatever way possible.

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