Diversionary Programs Available For First Time Offenders in Florida

Interviewer: How are they different from other programs that are available and what do they consist of and how long they take?

Michael Golub: Pre-trial intervention can take anywhere from, say, 90 days up to 18 months depending upon, you know, whether it's misdemeanor or felony or what the level of defense is. Yes, and typically what happens is it's a diversion program where the case is taken off from the court docket, the person then goes and sees a pre-trial intervention officer, that person will supervise them to make sure they do certain things and they'll have to show up every month, they'll have to pay certain court costs, if it's a drug case, they're going to ask some sort of treatment, things that they have to go through. They may have to do some community service hours, there may be restitution only in certain cases, and then once they finish doing the things that they are assigned to do at the end, then the state attorney will file a thing called "No information" which basically is dropping the case at that point. And typically, other than just dropping the thing initially, physically that's the best case scenario for most people.

Even if a Case is Dropped by Prosecution, the Arrest Still Shows Up in Your Record

Interviewer: What if there's a case being dismissed and dropped compared to getting it expunged?

Michael Golub: Basically, it's a case - when the case is dropped or there's no information filed in the case, there is still a record out there that says the person - if you are to look the person's name up in the clerk's record, it would show that the person was arrested for a certain crime and charged with the crime and then, the case was then dropped, okay. So, even though the case was dropped, it does show the arrest, so it still doesn't look to have a record of being arrested for something. The person can go and if they're filling out a job application, they can say that they weren't convicted of a crime but they were arrested for the crime and somebody does a background check that's going to show.

An Expungement or a Sealing Can Erase the Arrest from a Person's Record

If the crime is expunged or the record is sealed, then that order then goes to all the law enforcement agencies and the clerk's office and any record that that crime occurred or was charged is basically sealed at that point. So, nobody at least in the private sector can ever find out that the person was charged with that crime. And the only people that can find out or if a person is going for some sort of government, the state of federal government will have access to that information but other than that, no one will have access to that information, it's as if it didn't occur.

Timeframe of Completion for the Process of Expungement in Florida

Interviewer: How long do they have to wait again for their expunction or expungement?

Michael Golub: Well, no, no, no. Typically, what happens is if a person is on probation and they successfully complete the probation or they successfully complete pre-trial intervention, as soon as the case is over, then we can begin the process of the expungement. The first thing that we'll have to do is there's an application that we have to file with Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the person has to be fingerprinted and there's an application that will go up to Tallahassee. And usually they have to do a certificate of eligibility, so we send the application to tell Tallahassee, that typically takes about 60 days or so for them to get back to us for the certificate of eligibility depending upon how backed up they are.

The Process of Expungement May take about Six Months from Start to Finish

Once we get the certificate from Tallahassee, then we file a petition in the court here locally and then usually, the judges will sign an order and then we get it expunged. So, typically the process takes maybe about six months from start to finish to get it expunged.