Florida law allows people to seal a record if they were arrested and the court withheld adjudication or the person was acquitted after going to trial. Once sealed, the record is removed from public view and the law allows you to honestly say you were never arrested or convicted. Only those who were never convicted of any offense, in any state and at anytime can have their record sealed in Florida. So, if you have a conviction on your record, you cannot seal ANY arrest record, even in arrests unrelated to the offense. Also, Florida only allows you to seal one arrest record. So if you have multiple arrests, you can only seal one arrest record.
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Florida law allows an arrest record to be expunged so that the record of the arrest record is hidden from the public and will not show up on any criminal background checks. You may be eligible to have your record expunged if if 1) all charges were dismissed before the trial (or if 10 years have passed since having the record sealed), 2) you have not any record expunged for any offense in any state, and 3) you have no prior convictions in any state.
As far as eligibility... Expungement is for arrests that did NOT lead to a conviction, withheld adjudication or an acquittal. Expungement can also be used for records that have been sealed for 10 years. In other words, expungement is only available where a charge was dismissed before trial or 10 years after a record has been sealed. Record sealing is for cases lead to a conviction, withheld adjudication or an acquittal.
As far as the benefits... Having a record sealed does not require certain agencies to actually ?"destroy" the records. An expungement requires all agencies to destroy their records of the case or arrest. Both sealing and expunging a record removes the information from public records. Both require that the information be made confidential. Expungment just takes it a step further by ordering that the records are destroyed. A record may be sealed where a person is found not guilty at trial or adjudication was withheld.
A pardon does not make a person eligible for expungement.