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How Long Do Misdemeanors Stay on Your Record in Florida?

How Long Do Misdemeanors Stay on Your Record in Florida?

Having a misdemeanor conviction on your record can cause all kinds of problems in Florida. It can make finding a job or apartment difficult. You may even lose access to student loans. So how long do misdemeanors stick on your record? And what can you do to get them removed?

Unfortunately, misdemeanors stay on your criminal record forever in Florida. The only way to get them off your record is through expungement or sealing. Let’s take a closer look at how long misdemeanors last and your options for record clearing.

Misdemeanors Stay Forever Without Expungement

Florida law states that misdemeanor convictions remain on your criminal record permanently unless expunged or sealed[1]. They do not expire over time.

So that minor drug offense or DUI from five years ago will still show up on a background check today. And it will keep showing up unless you take legal action to remove it.

Misdemeanor Arrests Stay Forever Too

Even if a misdemeanor arrest doesn’t lead to a conviction, it remains on your criminal record forever as well. Florida keeps arrest records even for dropped charges.

So getting arrested for suspected shoplifting or simple assault creates a permanent mark on your record that won’t go away on its own.

What Shows Up on a Background Check?

Misdemeanor convictions and arrests will definitely show up on a Florida criminal background check. Most employers and landlords do background screening today.

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Christine Twomey
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Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
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So that old misdemeanor DUI or suspended license charge could come back to haunt you even decades later when applying for jobs, housing, loans etc.[2]

How Misdemeanors Affect Your Life

Having misdemeanors on your record can negatively impact many areas of your life, including:

  • Employment – Struggle getting hired or lose current job
  • Housing – Landlords may deny rental applications
  • Loans – Banks may reject loan or credit applications
  • Travel – Could face restrictions on foreign travel
  • Custody – Could hurt chances in custody disputes

As you can see, misdemeanors aren’t minor when it comes to their lasting consequences. That’s why getting them removed is so important.

Expungement – Clearing Your Criminal Record

Luckily, Florida does allow expungement of misdemeanors from your criminal record. Expungement clears the public record so your charges don’t show up on background checks.

To qualify for misdemeanor expungement in Florida, you must[3]:

  • Complete probation or any jail term
  • Pay all fines and restitution in full
  • Have no other pending criminal cases
  • Wait 1 year after completing sentence

If eligible, your attorney will petition the court to approve expunging your record. This can take several months to process.

Sealing Criminal Records

Florida also allows sealing of misdemeanor records through a similar process. Sealing makes records confidential but doesn’t destroy them.

Eligibility requirements are similar to expungement. An attorney can advise if sealing or expungement is better for your specific situation.

Multiple Misdemeanors Can Be Expunged

You can expunge multiple misdemeanor convictions from your Florida record. But you must file a separate petition for each one and meet the requirements.

Having an attorney handle this is best to ensure every misdemeanor gets cleared properly. It’s well worth the cost to get a clean slate.

When Misdemeanors Can’t Be Expunged

Some misdemeanor convictions in Florida are ineligible for expungement, including[4]:

  • Domestic violence
  • DUI
  • Sex crimes
  • Violent crimes like assault

For these, you may be able to seal records instead. An attorney can explore options to minimize the impact.

Diversion Programs Avoid Conviction

Some first-time misdemeanor offenders may get offered pretrial diversion programs like drug court. Completing these results in your charges being dropped.

Since there is no conviction, your record remains clean if you qualify and complete diversion requirements.

When Applying for Jobs or Housing

Even if expunged, you may still need to disclose past records when asked directly on housing or job applications. Lying could backfire later.

An attorney can best advise you on how to answer appropriately. Sealing records makes this less risky.

Consult a Criminal Defense Attorney

Never try to handle a misdemeanor charge on your own in Florida without experienced legal counsel. A criminal defense lawyer can often get charges reduced or dismissed.

They can also properly guide you through expunging or sealing records. Don’t let a small mistake haunt you – take action to clear your name.

I know it’s stressful having a criminal record. But there is hope to move forward. Let me know if you have any other questions!


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