Expungement means the criminal history record is physically destroyed, and can’t be accessed. The FDLE and the clerk of court still retain a copy of the expunged record, but it is inaccessible to the public. However, an individual who has a criminal record expunged must still reveal that record in certain circumstances. Expungement is not available if a charge resulted in a withhold of adjudication or where a trial took place, even if the defendant was found not guilty.
The following type of cases cannot be sealed or expunged in Florida: arson, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, illegal use of explosives, child abuse, abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult, aircraft piracy, kidnapping, homicide, manslaughter, sexual battery, robbery, carjacking, burglary of a dwelling, stalking, domestic violence, home-invasion robbery, act of terrorism, sexual battery and related offenses, trafficking controlled substances, lewd and lascivious conduct with minor, and attempting or conspiring to commit any of the above crimes.
In some instances, such as when applying for a job with some government agencies, an individual may be asked to unseal a record so the agency can review the record. In this case, an expungement would be better, since a file cannot be recovered once it is destroyed. However, the applicant would need to reveal the details of the incident in both circumstances (sealed or expunged). If you are contemplating applying to one of the entities who is entitled to be notified of a sealed record, it may be best to wait until after you apply to seal the record so there is no risk you will be asked to unseal it.