If you’re trying to access criminal records in Florida, you’ll need a little direction. As in many states, accessing public records in Florida can be a challenge.
Adult criminal history records are available to the public unless they’re sealed or expunged. All juvenile criminal records are to be kept confidential. The court can also exempt the sharing of some criminal records for safety reasons, when the information released can be harmful.
Florida has public records dating back to 1849, and maintains digitized records across all 67 of its counties. To obtain a criminal history record, you can use this state-specific guide to access records in the Sunshine State.
What is a criminal record?
A criminal record is an official document detailing a person’s criminal convictions, pending criminal cases, prior arrests, and other interactions with law enforcement agencies. Additional names for a criminal record include criminal history record, rap sheet, and a police record.
As with marriage records and court records, criminal records are generally public records in the United States and can be accessed through a criminal background check. However, public access to specific criminal record information varies from state to state.
In the State of Florida, criminal records are centrally maintained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
What is included in a Florida criminal record?
As criminal records are kept by law enforcement agencies at all levels of government in the United States, a Florida criminal record may vary in format and content depending on the law enforcement database from which it is accessed.
Generally, a Florida criminal record will include the following information:
- A person’s full name and possible aliases
- Personal information such as age, date of birth, sex, ethnicity, height, weight, and other physical characteristics
- Fingerprints and mugshot
- Misdemeanor criminal offenses and convictions
- Felony criminal offenses and convictions
- Traffic records
- Past and outstanding arrest warrants
- Prior arrests
- Pending and dismissed charges
Why would someone access a criminal record?
There are many reasons to access a criminal record in Florida. Most commonly, people search criminal records as a way to run a background check on a particular person.
They are also used by law enforcement to identify or locate people involved in unsolved crimes or by the court system to determine an appropriate sentence after a conviction.
It is not uncommon for people to request their own records to see what information is public. In some cases, a record could be inaccurate or include outdated information. If that is the case, there is a process to follow to correct the record.
What’s the difference between an infraction, misdemeanor, and felony?
When you access a criminal record, the person listed on the record may have an offense listed. Criminal offenses are usually broken into three categories: Infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies.
An infraction is a minor violation, a misdemeanor is more serious, and a felony is the most serious type of crime.
To better understand the information listed on a criminal record, here’s a quick overview of each offense and its severity:
- Infraction: A small traffic violation or littering are considered infractions. An infraction is a minor violation of the law. Usually, punishments are a warning or a fine. Typically, no jail time is associated with an infraction.
- Misdemeanor: If someone were to get a DUI or a drug violation, it is considered a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is more serious than an infraction but less severe than a felony. Jail time of less than a year or probation are usually associated with these types of crimes. Likely, the offender will do time in a local or county jail.
- Felony: Murder, rape, and arson are considered felony charges. A felony is the most serious type of crime. Offenders are typically sentenced to jail for more than a year and are likely held in a state or federal facility.
What is the difference between a Florida arrest record and a Florida criminal record?
An arrest record is an official document including the details of a specific arrest. A criminal record is a more comprehensive document that includes a person’s entire criminal background known to law enforcement agencies.
Both types of documents are usually public records in the United States, although information about specific arrests may be sealed and rendered inaccessible to the public for a variety of reasons.
Whether an arrest record or a criminal record is accessed, the information listed is for state crimes only. If a person is involved in a federal crime, this information is not listed on a state record.
How do I search for a Florida criminal record?
To search for a Florida criminal record, the Florida Criminal History Record Check, maintained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, gives access to records to the public. By a name search or fingerprint search, the records can be easily found.
To search for record fees, a fee of $25 is charged per record check. The payment should be made via the use of a credit card to the Florida Department of Law enforcement.
Juvenile offenses records, sexual offenses records, and sealed or expunged records are not available on the online website search.
How do I obtain a physical copy of a Florida criminal record?
A person can request a physical copy of a Florida criminal record by two means, mail or call.
To access the physical copy of a Florida criminal record, send a mail with all details of the individual whose criminal records are needed to the address below:
Florida Department of Law Enforcement
User Services Bureau
Criminal History Services
PO Box 1489
Tallahassee Fl 32302
A fee of $24 is a mandatory requirement. It is payable via money order or check. The request must contain the return address, name, address, social security number, date of birth, race, and gender of the individual whose information is being sought.
Alternatively, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement can be reached by calling 850-410-8109.
How do I search for Florida criminal case court records?
The Florida criminal case court records are available to the public in accordance with the Florida Public Records Act that states that all court records should be available to the public. Florida court cases can be found in two ways: Online or offline.
Each county in the state of Florida is responsible for its own court records. As a result, there isn’t a unified way to access records. It varies by county. Many of the larger counties like Duval, Clay, and Brevard all have online portals where it’s possible to look up a case online. If you know where a case was heard, you can Google the county to see if it has an online system. If not, you’ll need to reach out to the county clerk, who’s responsible for physical records at the courthouse.
If you request the records from the county clerk or clerk of court, you may need to fill out a request form and pay a small fee.
Does Florida allow criminal records to be sealed or expunged?
Florida is considered to be one of the toughest states to get a criminal record sealed or expunged.
In order to get criminal records sealed or expunged in Florida, a person has to have a certificate of eligibility which is issued by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. To get the certificate of eligibility involves a rigorous process involving probations and numerous document verification processes. A fee of $75 is paid for an expungement petition.
Any offense committed more than once cannot be sealed or expunged whether juvenile or adult criminal history records. All sexual offenses convicted or not convicted can also not be sealed or expunged. It is important to have a highly experienced attorney to aid in the court procedures hence fastening the sealing or expungement procedure.
How can I have false information on a Florida criminal record corrected?
False information on a criminal record in Florida can cause a lot of negative effects. For instance, a negative reputation because background checks are often carried out for various reasons and the information may be misinterpreted.
In Florida, criminal records can be corrected under three different circumstances, that is:
- If there are inaccurate charges
- Where someone else’s information is on the criminal records
- Where there are omissions, for instance, if updates with regards to the charges are not updated on the records on time.
The false information should be fixed as soon as possible to avoid further discrepancies. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is in charge of all corrections and can be found in most of Florida’s counties.
The department can also be contacted via mail on:
Florida Department of Law Enforcement
P.O. Box 1489.
Tallahassee, FL 32302-1489.
The process is fast and affordable due to the central management of criminal records.
How long are Florida criminal records kept on file?
In Florida, criminal records are kept on file for a period of seven years. This is applicable whether conviction took place or not.
If a person is convicted of either misdemeanor or felony, that is, declared guilty, then his criminal records are kept for good in his/her files unless otherwise expunged or sealed by the court. Juvenile records, if committed once, are not kept on file after seven years.