Students who do not want potential employers to know they have a criminal background can have their records sealed or expunged.
Debbie Robinson, 20, a second-year nursing student from Leesburg, Va., said she decided to have her record sealed, so it would not affect her future career as a nurse.
“When I was 17 years old my friends and I went to our high school football game and we got caught smoking weed,” Robinson said.
Robinson said she was charged with possession of marijuana due to other pending charges.
“Some applications that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement receives are charges for possession of alcohol under 21 years of age, petty theft and possession of cannabis under 20 grams,” said Heather Smith, a public information officer with FDLE.
In order to have a record sealed or expunged, a person may not have any adjudications of guilt or any prior seals or expunges within the State of Florida. A student may go to FDLE and fill out an application for a Certificate of Eligibility, along with a money order or cashier’s check for $75, fingerprint form and a certified copy of the final dispositions you wish to have sealed or expunged. The information can also be mailed.
Submitting the application does not mean your criminal history record will be sealed or expunged. That only indicates that you are eligible for the type of relief that is being requested.
“The application process takes about six weeks,” said Kimberly Smith, FDLE Criminal Justice customer service specialist.
However, certain governmental or related entities such as the Department of Children and Families, Law Enforcement and the Board of Education will have access to sealed records. That information must be available if a person works with the elderly, children or law enforcement.
According to FDLE, if your criminal record is sealed, the general public will not have access to it. However, if your criminal record has been expunged certain agencies can have access to it. Anyone can request your record, but they have to have a court order. All they will see is a statement indicating criminal information has been expunged from this record.
Anyone with a criminal background may apply to have his or her records sealed or expunged. A list of charges that may not be sealed when adjudication is withheld is included with the application package.
Smith said it is unknown how many college students who have their records hidden. For more information on getting your records sealed or expunged call FDLE’s Expunge/Seal Section at 850-410-7870 or visit www.fdle.state.fl.us/expunge.