During the 2022 Florida Legislative Session, a bill is being considered to allow the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to expunge (remove) documentation associated with juvenile arrests under certain circumstances. Juveniles who commit criminal offenses as teenagers have limited access to employment, education, and housing opportunities as adults. Due to collateral consequences, they cannot escape the stigma attached to having a criminal record. The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice reported 45,366 juveniles arrested in 2019-2020.
The CS/HB195: Juvenile Diversion Program Expunction Bill for 2022:
“Requires FDLE to expunge nonjudicial arrest record of minors who successfully complete diversion program for specified felony offenses, rather than only for misdemeanor offenses; authorizes minor who completes diversion program & is granted expunction for any covered offense to lawfully deny or fail to acknowledge certain information.”
Under the current law (Florida Statute 943.0582), expunction is limited to those who successfully complete a diversion program after a first-time misdemeanor arrest. The proposed legislation (CS/HB195), sponsored by Representative David Smith of Winter Springs, Florida, would expand juvenile expunction laws to include felonies, except for forcible felonies. Forcible felonies are those in which there is imminent danger of bodily injury to a human being, such as murder, rape, kidnapping, and robbery.
History of the Bill
The Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate passed similar legislation in 2021. However, Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed the bill, citing concerns about public safety. In response, the newly proposed legislation for 2022 has made an exception for forcible felonies. The bill’s sponsors are optimistic that this change will gain the Governor’s approval. If signed into law, the newly proposed bill would be in effect on July 1, 2022.
Pros and Cons
Proponents of this bill believe that juveniles cannot make fully informed choices due to their age. However, they can grow up to be productive members of society. The proponents also argue that juveniles may disengage from school and employment goals if denied jobs, education, or housing because of their criminal records. Therefore, expunging juvenile criminal records would allow the offenders to expand their future options and afford them opportunities to be productive members of society.
Opponents to the expunction of juvenile records argue that juveniles should face the consequences of their actions. Some studies show the recidivism rate for juveniles is high. In many states, up to 80 percent of incarcerated youth are rearrested within three years. https://csgjusticecenter.org/publications/reducing-juvenile-recidivism/
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
At The AP Law Group, we believe that mistakes made as a minor should not define them forever. If your minor child is arrested for a crime, contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys for systematic guidance through the criminal justice system. Florida law provides several statutory expunction options to pursue. The passing of the proposed new legislation would be a progressive move towards justice reform and benefit many youthful offenders in Florida.
Contact The AP Law Group at 352-732-9191 to learn more about juvenile record expunction. We can advise you on the proper course of action towards a brighter future. Our offices are located in Ocala and Gainesville, Florida. We defend clients for all misdemeanor and felony crimes in state and federal courts of law.