The expungement process in West Palm Beach involves first establishing if an individual is eligible to have their record expunged. This is followed by an actual filing of the Petition to Expunge with the state of Florida. The paperwork required for the filing can be obtained in packet form at the Palm Beach County main courthouse. It can also be obtained at the remote courthouses located in Belle Glade, Palm Beach Gardens, and Delray Beach.
The costs involved in filing a Petition to Expunge in West Palm Beach include the filing fee with the Palm Beach County clerk, as well as a fee to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to conduct the due diligence necessary for the emission or denial of the Certificate of Eligibility for expungement. Likewise, since a completed fingerprint card is one of the documents required to be submitted with the filing, there is also a fee for getting fingerprinted by a law enforcement agency.
If the filing is in order, a hearing will be scheduled so that a judge may review the documentation and merits of the petition. If approved by the judge, an order would be issued to all of the agencies that have custody of the records to be expunged, ordering their destruction.
While the expungement process in West Palm Beach is designed to accommodate those seeking to file Petitions to Expunge on their own behalf, it is usually more prudent to have an attorney handle the filing. This allows a person to be solidly informed as to whether or not they actually qualify for expungement. It also allows for all of the paperwork and documentation to be filled out by the attorney, minimizing errors that could cause delays or additional cost in the form of reassessed fees.
The expungement process in West Palm Beach is governed by Florida Statute 943.0585. It details what the qualification parameters are to get a record expunged; it also covers every nuance associated with the process. While the content of this statute is readily available online, fully understanding its scope and potential repercussions may not be within the forte of the average layperson. This is yet another reason why consulting and retaining the services of a criminal defense lawyer for a Petition to Expunge is a wise idea.
Benefits of Expungement
For those that qualify for expungement, doing so can have many benefits. Having a criminal record can negatively impact a person when they are seeking new employment, being vetted for a promotion, seeking new housing, seeking government contracts, undergoing an evaluation of credit worthiness and even when enrolling in higher education. These are poignant reasons why, if eligible, a West Palm Beach resident should seriously consider getting their criminal record expunged.
It is also important to note, that when a particular record has been expunged, the person is no longer obligated to disclose it. Nor would denying its existence be considered perjury under the majority of circumstances. It allows a degree of normalcy to return to a person’s life.
Is an Attorney Really Necessary?
While in theory, the expungement process in West Palm Beach is not complicated when compared to other legal proceedings, in practice, it can be time-consuming and stressful if not handled properly. Retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney will minimize the stress of gathering all of the supporting documents required for the filing and curtail any potential delays.
In short, those that qualify for expungement should do so — preferably with the aid of an attorney.