According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), in 2018, there were more than 80,000 violent crimes and approximately 485,000 property crime cases in the state. With such a high crime rate, it is not surprising that various people, especially employers, are demanding a criminal record check.
However, not many people are aware that they can quickly get access to the information of any person from the FDLE. All you have to do is request the information you need from the Division of Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) and pay the required fees. [ Section 943.053, F.S. ]
Needless to say, it is a commendable service provided by the FDLE to the public seeking crucial information.
But, we can’t ignore that laws can get complicated, particularly those related to crime. Generally, numerous questions surround the rules, and it is not easy to get the answer to each one of those questions. You require plenty of time and dedication to learn everything efficiently, which you might not have.
That’s why we have gathered some essential questions and provided their answers in simplified language. Are you ready to learn? Let’s get started!
Criminal record check and a background check: Are They Similar?
Let us begin with the basics. Do you think criminal record investigation and background checks are the same thing? If yes, then we would like to correct you. Both of these terms are different. However, just like you, several other people also use these terms interchangeably.
Confusing? Wait, let us clear your cloud of confusion!
To check someone’s background (which generally a company does before recruiting any person) means checking their credit history, driver record, or asking their previous employer and neighbor about them. In simple terms, collecting general information.
Perhaps, let’s talk about the criminal record check. It means investigating if the person has committed a crime, whether or not he/she has ever been arrested or if they have been involved in fraudulent activity of any kind. Basically, investigating every police record.
Also, keep in mind that it is a part of the background check and not the background check itself.
What does it include?
As per the Florida laws, there are two levels of investigation:
Level 1: It includes state records, i.e., local criminal history. It is based on the offender’s name and may also have a national sex offender registry or employment history.
Level 2: It includes the national records, i.e., based on the fingerprint and FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation). Moreover, according to section 435.04 F.S., it is mandatory to perform a fingerprint background check on the employees for every company.
Requirements for state history record check and national history record check
Now that you know about availing information from FDLE let us brief you about the requirements.
For state check: To get the information, you need to submit the person’s name request and fingerprint card. Bear in mind that you need to add a return address, the name of the person you want to get information about, age, race, sex, and social security number (if possible). You can submit the request using online mode and by paying the fees.
For national check: As per the law:
- Only a government organization can get the receipt of history.
- You need to sign the user agreement (meaning you comply with the FBI’s said terms and conditions).
- Need to process the fingerprints from the state repository before requesting national records.
- Need to submit specific documents and licenses as requested.
Who is allowed to request a criminal history check?
No other entity except the government can request for national history record investigation. On the other hand, for state history records, companies (both public and private) and citizens have the right to request information. To be specific, it includes:
- Convenience store/ grocery store
- Taxi drivers
- Any organization employing a person for the care of children, elders, or disabled (as per the provision of the National Child Protection Act).
Why does the employer ask for a background check?
For every business owner, it is crucial that every person working for him/her feel protected. But how will you ensure the protection of your employees? One of the ways is by getting a background check. It will ensure that there are no threats in the organization due to any person.
Besides, the state laws also make it mandatory for every organization to get a background check before hiring any new person.
How can you seal and expunge your criminal record?
But, what if you had a criminal record in the past? Even if it were a false accusation, it would be in your record for the rest of your life. That’s why the experts at https://www.fighterlaw.com/practice-areas/criminal-defense/record-sealing-and-expunging/ recommend sealing and expunging your record when you can. However, first, you have to make sure that you qualify for the sealing.
If you qualify, you need to provide the court’s certificate of eligibility while applying for the petition. You can get the certificate from the FDLE, and it will be valid for one year only. Once the judge approves your petition, your record will be sealed or expunged.
What charges cannot be sealed or expunged?
That’s right! Not every offense can be sealed or expunged. You must be wondering what these offenses are? Well, these are as follows:
- Child abuse
- Manslaughter (homicide)
- Robbery/ Home invasion
- Domestic violence
- Arson (setting the property on fire)
These are punishable offenses, and it is crucial for any person with such allegations to stay far away from their loved ones.
What is the difference between a sealed record and an expunged record?
Generally, both of these terms are used to imply the deletion of the records. However, there is a significant difference between the two. To expunge a record means criminal charges are entirely deleted, both legally and physically. On the other side, to seal a record means that it will exist in the legal document and is accessible to the court.
Laws are complicated and need a lot of time. That’s why many people avoid getting into the details. But how can one forget that law is for our protection, and it is vital to understand them? Hence, to help you get familiar with Florida criminal law, we answer the most significant questions. So that you know what to do if you ever face any situation related to violating the laws.