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Restrictions on Sealing or Expunging a Domestic Violence Record

Many misdemeanor and felony dispositions can be sealed or expunged in a separate civil process. Many records can be sealed when the resulting disposition is a withheld of adjudication. All records can be expunged with a dismissal or when the State declines to file the case. A records can be sealed after an acquittal by trial but may not be expunged.

However, any plea that results in a domestic violence disposition, that does not include a dismissal, my not be sealed. It will become a permanent record. F.S. 741.28 considers domestic violence a dangerous crime and excludes any domestic violence disposition from being eligible to be sealed.

For this reason, Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence lawyer Dave Simmons knows the importance of avoiding any disposition under the domestic violence umbrella.

What is a Sealed Record?

Upon a criminal record being sealed, the record is closed to the public except under a very limited set of circumstance outlined in F.S. 943.059.

F.S. 943.059 outlines the policies and procedures for sealing a record.

Once a record is sealed, it is not subject to the Florida Public Record Law outlined in F.S. 11907(1).

This law states that public records are available to anyone upon a proper request. When the record is sealed, it is only available to the individual who is the subject of the sealed record and any criminal justice agency including background checks for purchasing of firearms.

Having a record sealed or expunged after the conclusion of a domestic violence case is extremely beneficial. Generally, a person with a sealed record, may lawfully deny that the incident ever happened and to the actual existence of the record. This includes employment applications etc. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule. These include the following:

  • Any law enforcement agency
  • The Department of Education
  • The Department of Children and Family Services
  • Any licensee or contractor dealing with children
  • Any public or private school
  • The Florida Bar

An individual will be required to disclose to these entities that a record has been sealed or expunged.

Any record that has been sealed for at least 10 years, is eligible to be expunged.

What is an Expunged Record?

An Expunged record is very similar to a sealed record with the main goal to make the record inaccessible to the public.


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“Defending Your Domestic Violence Charges in Court”


However, there are a few notable difference between the two. First, an expunged record has been physically destroyed by most agencies in possession of the record. Conversely, a sealed record is maintained but the contents are restricted and confidential.

Records that are dismissed by the state are eligible to be expunged. A disposition of a withheld of adjudication may be sealed pursuant to the exceptions outlined in F.S. 741.29.

Circumstances When a Domestic Violence Charge may be Sealed

One option is to apply and be accepted into a pre-trial diversion program. This is an option especially if the state has a very strong case against you. The State may require you to complete community service hours and a Batter’s Intervention Program, and upon completion of the program, the State will dismiss the charge clearing the way for the record to be eligible to be expunged.

Another option is to negotiate with State Attorney and come to an agreement that the charged shall deemed to be not “domestic” in nature, and with this stipulation, the charge could be sealed upon a withheld adjudication.

Each case has its own unique set of facts and there may be other option to explore as well. It is important to explore all your options with an experienced Domestic Violence Attorney.

If you have been charged with domestic violence in Broward County, Contact Attorney Dave Simmons today for your free consolation at (954) 914 4864.

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