Florida law provides that “any request for expunction of a criminal history record may be denied at the sole discretion of the court.” However, that discretion is limited. For example, in the case of Kim Wells versus the State of Florida, Ms. Wells filed a petition with the court asking that her criminal record be expunged. The Office of the State Attorney replied acknowledging that she was, in fact, legally eligible to have her record expunged and that the presiding judge should therefore hold a hearing at which time he could decide whether Ms. Wells’ record should be expunged. Instead of following that procedure, however, the judge simply denied Wells’ petition without a hearing.
Wells then appealed the judge’s decision to Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal which ruled that the lower-court judge had to hold a hearing before deciding how to rule on Wells’ petition. The appellate court stated, “[W]e believe that once the court was presented with a proper petition for sealing and expunction, unopposed by the [prosecutor], the matter should have been set for hearing, as requested by the [prosecutor], and not summarily denied. [Florida law] contemplates that a hearing will be afforded when requested.”
In other words, the appellate court did not say that the lower-court judge was required to expunge Wells’ criminal record; however, the lower-court judge was required to set the matter for hearing before deciding the issue.
If you are interested in getting your criminal record sealed or expunged in West Palm Beach, Palm Beach, St. Lucie County, Martin County, Palm Beach County, Broward County, or Miami-Dade County, please call me, attorney Ron Chapman, at 561-832-4348 to discuss your case and see how I might be able to help you.