May 02, 2012
I received this question from a potential client in 2011. The court denied his petition to expunge a case.
He was arrested for petit theft in 2005 and the charges were dropped. In 2007 he was arrested for DUI and he ended up being found guilty after a jury trial. He wanted to expunge the petit theft from 2005 which was dropped before the conviction for the DUI. The question is whether a person can seal or expunge a case that they were not convicted for if that case happened before another case for which they were convicted?
Unfortunately, this client will not qualify. He should have expunged that petit theft as soon as the case was dropped, before the DUI case. Simply put, since he had an adjudication of guilt for the DUI before the judge heard his petition to expunge the petit theft he did not qualify. It did not matter that the petit theft was dismissed before he had the DUI charge.
Under Florida law, a judge, at the time of considering a petition to seal or expunge has to consider whether a person has "ever been adjudicated guilty of a criminal offense". If the person, AT THE TIME the judge considers the petition to seal or expunge has a conviction (adjudication of guilt) on their record, they will legally not qualify to have the case sealed or expunge and the judge will deny the motion to seal or expunge.
This is why it is important to act quickly to have your case sealed or expunged after the case is closed.