If you have a criminal record with one or more convictions, it can hinder your career prospects, financial opportunities, and even ability to qualify for certain loans. Florida criminal law allows individuals, under certain circumstances, to have their criminal record sealed. A Florida court issued a decision, showing that both the applicant and the State have to follow statutory procedures before granting or denying a certificate of eligibility to seal a criminal record.
In Lazard v. State, the defendant had a child in his care. During this time, the defendant struck the child with an extension cord. The State charged the defendant with aggravated child abuse, and he ultimately pled guilty to the crime of contributing to the dependency of a child, a misdemeanor. Later, the defendant made an application to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to seal his criminal record. The FDLE denied his request because his criminal history related to an act of domestic violence, which, according to the FDLE, rendered him ineligible for sealing his record.
Florida Statutes Section 943.059 outlines the procedures for having a criminal record sealed. In short, the applicant must first receive a certificate of eligibility from the FDLE and then file a petition to seal the record with the court. The court will conduct a hearing and evaluate evidence before making its determination. By law, the FDLE is obligated to issue a certificate of eligibility if the applicant meets the statutorily defined criteria.