Can a Judge Deny Your Request to Expunge Your Record Without Giving You Specific Reasons?

In order to get your criminal record sealed or expunged in Florida, there are certain legal requirements that you must meet before a judge is even allowed to consider whether he or she will grant your request to seal or expunge your record.  But if you do meet those requirements, a judge still is not required to grant your request; he or she may deny your request but only if there is a good reason to do so based upon the facts of your individual case.

In the case of Fisher v. State of Florida, Mr. Fisher filed a petition to expunge his criminal record.  The judge deciding his case denied his petition but did not state why she did so based upon the specific facts of Mr. Fisher’s case.  Instead, she merely noted that the law gives judges discretion to grant or deny a person’s request to have his criminal record expunged.

Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal reversed the judge’s decision and in doing so stated:

1.   When a person meets the legal requirements for having his record sealed or expunged and files an appropriate petition with the Court, “he is entitled to a hearing at which the trial court should consider all of the facts and circumstances of his case.”

2.  Because the trial judge in Mr. Fisher’s case did not state why she denied his petition based upon the facts of his particular case, the appellate court was unable to determine whether she exercised her discretion properly.

3.  The trial judge was ordered to conduct another hearing regarding Mr. Fisher’s petition, and if she denied it a second time, she was to state why she denied it based upon the particular facts and circumstances of Fisher’s case.