Does Being Adjudicated Guilty Mean That You Cannot Get Your Record Expunged?

In the case of Julie Matthews versus the State of Florida, Ms. Matthews appealed a judge’s decision to not expunge her criminal-history record for grand theft of an automobile based upon the following facts:

“During the evening of March 8, 1995, . . . Julie Matthews was with a group of friends at a restaurant.  She left the restaurant [using] one of her friend’s vehicles.  Her friend filed a police report, and [Matthews] was arrested for grand theft of an automobile on March 9, 1995 around 10:00 A.M.  Seven hours earlier on March 9, 1995, [Matthews] had been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in that same friend’s vehicle.  These arrests were treated as separate incidents.  They were reported in separate police reports, they were given separate agency case numbers by the Sheriff’s Department, and they were given separate court case numbers.”[Matthews] was adjudicated guilty of DUI.  The State [Attorney’s Office dropped the] grand-theft auto case. To have her grand theft auto offense expunged, [Matthews] applied for a certificate of eligibility from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) . . . .  FDLE sent [Matthews] a letter stating that the certificate of eligibility would not be issued since she had been adjudicated guilty of charges (namely, DUI) stemming from the arrest or alleged criminal activity to which the application pertained.  [Matthews] filed a motion to compel FDLE to produce a certificate of eligibility for expungement.  The State Attorney’s Office and FDLE filed their respective responses in opposition to [Matthews’] motion.”

The trial judge agreed with FDLE’s refusal to issue Matthews a certificate of eligibility, so she appealed to Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal.  But that appellate court also agreed with FDLE’s decision because Florida law states that a person is not eligible to receive a certificate of eligibility if she has been adjudicated guilty of a criminal offense prior to applying for such a certificate.  And because Matthews was adjudicated guilty of the criminal offense of DUI before applying to FDLE for a certificate of eligibility, she was, therefore, not legally eligible to receive that certificate.
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.