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WHAT ARE THE LAWS ON
JUVENILE CRIMINAL RECORDS IN FLORIDA?
A criminal history record is created when a person is arrested and fingerprinted. A record is created by the arresting agency. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) stores criminal history records for the entire state. When a youth is arrested for a felony or certain misdemeanor crimes the arresting agency is required by law to submit information about the arrest and the youth’s fingerprints to the FDLE. The arresting agency is also allowed by statute to submit arrest information and fingerprints to FDLE for all youth arrests. Many law enforcement agencies routinely report all juvenile arrests to FDLE. If a youth was fingerprinted at the time of an arrest, the chances are that his arrest information and fingerprints were sent to the FDLE. The Department of Juvenile Justice is also required to inform the FDLE of the dispositions for all juvenile felonies and certain misdemeanor crimes. (The disposition is the outcome of the case.)
As a general rule, public access to juvenile records is limited, but there are exceptions. All traffic violations by youth are public record and are treated the same as adult traffic violations. Until 1994, law enforcement agencies could only release the name of juveniles ages 16 and older who had been charged with one of a few specific crimes. In 1994, a change in laws governing the confidentiality of juvenile records eliminated the age restriction and expanded what juvenile records could be disclosed. The law now allows law enforcement agencies to disclose to the public the name, photograph, address, and the arrest report of any child arrested for a felony. This same information may be disclosed if a child has been found by a court to have committed three or more misdemeanors. This information may also be disclosed for youth who are transferred to the adult system. Criminal justice agencies may have access to all FDLE juvenile criminal records for criminal justice purposes. The general public may be provided access to criminal justice histories by FDLE for a fee, which can include any juvenile arrests that FDLE is authorized under statute to provide.
No, at least not right away. In most cases, the FDLE may keep a youth’s criminal record until the individual turns 24 years old. At that time most juveniles’ records are then expunged (destroyed). There are some exceptions:
When a record is sealed, access to the record is
limited. The record is not available for the public to see. Criminal
justice agencies are allowed access to it for criminal justice purposes
and to screen job applicants. Certain agencies are allowed to receive
information in the criminal history to screen job applicants for
positions working directly with children, the elderly, the disabled, or
What is an expunged criminal record?
Florida statutes allow for the criminal records to be expunged for some youth who have successfully completed a pre-arrest or post-arrest diversion program. When someone gets an expunction through the diversion program option, records maintained by local criminal justice agencies in the county where the arrest happened are sealed. FDLE keeps the record and may make the information in the record available to criminal justice agencies for the purpose of seeing if a person qualifies for a diversion program if arrested again. FDLE may also share the information in the record if it is requested as part of a criminal investigation or when the individual is a job candidate with a criminal justice agency.
the court orders a record to be expunged, the record must be destroyed
by all criminal justice agencies except the FDLE. The FDLE may disclose
the existence of the record to other criminal justice agencies for
licensing and employment decisions, but it may not provide any of the
details in the report without a court order.
To be eligible for expunction, the case must have never been filed on by the state attorney, or if filed, was dismissed before trial. If the case went to trial, it must have been previously sealed for a minimum of 10 years to be eligible for expunction.
case is not eligible to be sealed or expunged if the youth:
traffic violations are also classified as criminal and, if found guilty
of these charges, the record could not be sealed or expunged. These
include Driving Under the Influence, reckless driving, and some charges
related to driving while a license is suspended.
Florida statutes allows for
some criminal records to be expunged for youths who have successfully
completed a pre-arrest or post-arrest diversion program. This option
only applies when a youth was arrested for a non-violent misdemeanor
that would not qualify as an act of domestic violence. One cannot have
had any other previous criminal offenses. One can only use this option
one time. The youth’s parent or guardian, or the youth if he is at
least age 18, must submit an application to the FDLE no later than six
months after completing the diversion program A $75 processing fee and
a statement from the State Attorney confirming that the youth
successfully completed the diversion program must accompany the
application. The criminal history record of a youth whose record is
expunged under this option can still be made available to criminal
justice agencies to determine if the youth would be eligible for a
diversion program if arrested again. The record can also be made
available if requested as part of a criminal investigation or if the
youth is a candidate for employment with a criminal justice agency. A
person whose record is expunged under this option may lawfully deny or
fail to admit the arrest covered by the expunged record, except if
applying for employment with a criminal justice agency. For more
information go to the FDLE web site at
How can one get a juvenile record sealed or expunged, other
than for a diversion case?
This information was prepared by the Juvenile Assessment Center of Lee County. It is provided as a general overview of juvenile criminal records in the state of Florida. It is not intended as a substitute for legal advice. It is always best to consult with an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities in your particular case. Those with additional questions are encouraged to access the FDLE web site at www.fdle.state.fl.us/expunge/. It should be noted that the laws of Florida are subject to change. This information was prepared based on 2010 Florida Statutes.