If you've recently been charged with a felony crime, such as robbery or drug trafficking, you might be counting the days until the charge is cleared from your record. Unfortunately, that will not happen any time soon in the state of Florida. Though 11 U.S. states, including California, Colorado, Nevada, and New York, dismiss felonies off your record after seven years no matter what, a felony charge in Florida remains on your record until you successfully apply for the record to be expunged.
However, now that you've received an answer for “how long does a felony stay on your record,” don't feel as though you have no avenues to take action. With the help of an experienced Florida expungement lawyer, you can work to have certain felony charges removed from your public record. To take the first steps to successfully have your record expunged — and get back to life as you know it — discover how a Florida criminal defense attorney can help.
What Does “Felony” Mean?
Before discussing how to expunge a charge from your record, it's helpful to understand the types of crimes that are considered “felonies.” In the United States, there are three types of crimes:
Infractions, also called violations, are the least serious types of crime. Infraction charges do not allow you access to a lawyer. However, there is no jury trial for this type of crime, and penalties typically involve a fine or points on your license.
Misdemeanors are more severe charges that are classified as either second-degree or first-degree. Second-degree misdemeanors carry penalties of a $500 fine, a 60-day jail sentence, or both. First-degree misdemeanors are more serious charges and carry penalties of up to a $1,000 fine, a one-year jail sentence, a one-year probation sentence, or a combination of all three.
Felonies are the most severe crimes an individual can be charged with. In Florida, felonies are classified as capital or life felonies and first-, second-, and third-degree felonies. The penalties involved with each type of felony vary depending on the severity of the crime.
- Capital Felony: Death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
- Life Felony: A fine of up to $15,000, life in prison without the possibility of parole, or probation for the remainder of your life.
- First-Degree Felony: A fine of up to $10,000, maximum 30-year prison sentence, and 30 years probation.
- Second-Degree Felony: A fine of up to $10,000, maximum 15-year prison sentence, and 15 years probation.
- Third-Degree Felony: A fine of up to $5,000, maximum 5-year prison sentence, and five years probation.
The type of felony you've been charged with and whether you've been convicted for the crime will determine how long a felony stays on your record in Florida.
How Long Will a Felony Stay on Your Record in Florida?
So, how long does a felony stay on your record? If you are charged with a felony in the state of Florida but not convicted, the charge will permanently remain on your record unless you successfully apply to remove, expunge, or seal the record, if possible. This isn't a simple process, but it is possible to completely remove all signs of a felony charge off of your record.
However, this rule does not apply to those who have been convicted of a felony crime. Felony convictions remain on your record for the rest of your life and cannot be removed through the expungement process. The only way to have a felony conviction removed from your record is through a pardon from the president or governor.
Can You Expunge a Felony Charge From Your Record?
Expungement refers to the legal process of permanently wiping your record clean of criminal charges. When your criminal record is expunged, neither state nor federal courts can access previous charges brought against you. Similarly, those searching for your criminal background will not be able to find any evidence of the charges on your public record.
If you have been arrested on a felony and the charges have been dropped, dismissed, or not filed, you may be eligible to have the charges expunged from your record. Likewise, if you have been found not guilty on felony charges or have pled guilty to certain crimes without actually being convicted in court, you may also apply for expungement.
How Long Does Expungement Take in Florida?
Expunging a felony charge is a two-step process that can take 15 to 18 months to complete. First, you must apply for a Certificate of Eligibility from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). This certificate alone will not impact your record but is necessary to move forward with the expungement process. If your criminal record shows a felony conviction, prior sealing or expungement, or certain driving violations or sex crimes, your certificate application may be denied.
Once you've successfully received a Certificate of Eligibility, you must submit your application for the expungement to the FDLE. The official forms for applying for expungement can be found on the FDLE website, however, different crimes do require different types of application forms. Due to the complexities surrounding the process, as well as the lengthy application time, it's best to consult with a Florida criminal defense attorney.
For instance, one simple mistake on an expungement application form can set you back months, if not longer. If there were multiple agencies involved with your arrest, the process could also be delayed. All involved agencies will need to erase the charge from their records, which can be time-consuming. An attorney can help streamline this process so you can finally stop asking, “How long does a felony stay on your record?”
What Criminal Charges Can be Expunged?
Aside from the question of how long a felony stays on your criminal record, another common inquiry individuals have is which types of criminal charges can be expunged from your criminal record. The short answer is that each state has its own laws regarding the types of charges that can legally be expunged.
In the state of Florida, if you pled guilty or no contest to these charges, they cannot be erased:
- Abuse of the elderly or disabled
- Aggravated assault or battery
- Child abuse
- Drug trafficking
- Organized fraud
- Sexual battery or rape
- Sexual offenses of any kind related to minors
However, if you were charged with the above crimes but not convicted, or the charges were dropped, you may be able to have them expunged. Similarly, if you were under the age of 18 when you committed a crime, you have a better chance of having it removed from your record. Due to the multiple intricacies involved with just one expungement case, you must contact an expungement attorney to determine the best course of action for your case.
Don't Wait, Hire a Florida Expungement Lawyer Today
Feeling as though you must remain with felony charges on your public record for the rest of the world to see can be overwhelming. Fortunately, a felony charge does not have to be the end of the road — if you have not been convicted of a felony crime, you can work to have the charge permanently removed.
With the help of an experienced Florida expungement attorney, we can successfully apply to have your felony charges expunged from your record. Though the process appears long and tedious, the knowledge and expertise of a criminal defense attorney can mean those charges disappear sooner rather than later. Contact the trusted criminal defense attorneys in Florida at Weinstein Legal today to learn more about how you can remove felony charges from your record in Florida.