Imagine that you were arrested or given a notice to appear for underage drinking in Jacksonville FL. You were in college at the University of North Florida. You were caught with alcohol at a party. Your Jacksonville lawyer helped you get the charges dropped, but it still shows up on a criminal background check. You expunged your arrest record, so the criminal charge does not show up anymore. A few years later, you were arrested for possession of marijuana in Jacksonville FL. You pleaded no contest to the drug charge. The judge withheld adjudication. You paid your court costs and the case was closed. You would like to seal your Florida record, so the marijuana arrest does not show up. There is a problem. In general, Florida law only allows you to seal or expunge your record one time. In the scenario that I set forth above, you would not be able to seal the marijuana case. There are exceptions to this rule if we change the facts in our scenario.
What if the drinking underage charge occurred when you were a juvenile? You were arrested and went to Jacksonville juvenile delinquent court. You successfully completed the Duval County diversion program. After completing the program, you expunged your record through the juvenile expunction law set forth in Section 943.0582 of the Florida Statutes. If this is the case, you may still be able to seal the marijuana arrest under Section 943.059 of the Florida Statutes. There are other factors involved, so you need to discuss the details with a Jacksonville lawyer.
Let’s go back to the original scenario in the first paragraph. Imagine that you were arrested for drinking at a college party. However, you were in college at the University of Georgia. You expunged your criminal history in Georgia. You were arrested for the drug charge in Jacksonville years later. You want to seal the drug charge. In the original scenario, you were not able to seal the second charge. Under Florida law, you normally can only seal or expunge one arrest. The difference is that your first arrest was out of state. It did not occur in Florida. Prior to July 1, 2013, you would not have been able to seal or expunge the second charge, because you had a previous expunction in another state. The law has changed. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, “Effective July 1, 2013, a previous seal or expunction of a criminal record in a jurisdiction outside the state of Florida will not disqualify an applicant to seal or expunge a Florida criminal history record.” That means that if you have a criminal history record sealed or expunged in another state or jurisdiction, you may still be eligible to have a criminal history record sealed or expunged in Florida.