CLIENT: “So you’re sure my record will be expunged?”
LAWYER: “Absolutely. The law does not give the judge any discretion. Your 20 year old arrest for disorderly conduct, which was dismissed, will be expunged. The record will be destroyed, the arrest removed from the police computers, and by the way, once your record is expunged, Florida law allows you to legally deny ever having been arrested, except in certain situations.”
CLIENT: “Great. So no one will ever know about this?”
LAWYER: “Well, I didn’t exactly say that.”
For those of you who have helped a client in the last year or so by expunging a criminal history or getting a withhold of adjudication sealed, you have probably noticed a disturbing new trend: Private Databases that are not subject to the Florida law when the court orders a record sealed or expunged.
What this means is that even though your client can legally deny an arrest once the record is sealed or expunged, an employer, a condo association, basically anyone using a private database company, will still have access to that record, although the State Of Florida has ordered it destroyed.
Welcome to the age of Big Brother and Computers.
A second chance for someone who committed a small indiscretion in their youth?
A clean record for a law abiding citizen who was wrongfully arrested?
The NY Times reported on this problem today, and none other than our own Judge Stanford Blake was interviewed for the article, which contains several quotes from Judge Blake. And because of computers and the internet, you can access those quotes forevermore.
You can read the article and Judge Blake's comments here:
This seems like a problem that perhaps our legislature could step in and solve.
Oh. Wait a minute.
The Florida Legislature helping someone who has been arrested?
Sorry. Lost our mind there for a minute.
Anyway, as Governor Holly Go Lightly and his Brother and their crowd would say, maybe if we pray enough, the problem will go away.
See You In Court.