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What is the difference between a dismissal and an expungement?

What is the difference between a
dismissal and an expungement?

Anyone in Florida who’s been the subject of a criminal case has likely heard the terms “dismissal” and “expungement” thrown around. Although the concepts are similar, there are several important distinctions. Whether you’re actively facing charges or have a criminal history, it’s important to understand the difference between these legal remedies.

The following information will shed some light on the key differences between a dismissal and an expungement under Florida law. If you have any questions or would like more information, contact the Orlando criminal defense lawyers with Katz & Phillips, P.A. at (321) 332-6864 to schedule a consultation.

difference between a dismissal and an expungement

What is a dismissal?

A dismissal is the termination of criminal proceedings against a defendant (the person facing charges). If your case is dismissed, it will still appear on your criminal record. However, it will indicate that you were charged with a crime but that you weren’t convicted.

Prospective employers, landlords, or other entities conducting a background check on you may see the dismissal on your record, but it generally won’t carry as much weight as a conviction.

There are two common ways in which a dismissal can occur. The first is by the prosecutor’s own volition, meaning they dismiss the case before it goes to trial. This can be based on factors like lack of evidence, errors in the charging paperwork, or a violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights, such as an illegal search or seizure.

The second way for a case to be dismissed is on the court’s orders. The court may order a dismissal if it feels there’s insufficient evidence or for certain procedural violations of the Defendant’s rights.

What is an expungement?

An expungement is a legal process that erases a criminal case from all records. The physical copy of the court records and any other documents related to an expunged case will be destroyed.

If you’re granted an expungement, anyone who accesses your criminal record won’t be able to see that you were arrested or charged with a crime. You also won’t be required to disclose the information on job applications or other forms, making it easier to secure employment, housing, and other opportunities. This is where expungement can be much more beneficial than a dismissal.

In Florida, expungement is available to a limited group of people. Only those whose cases have been dismissed, dropped, or acquitted are eligible for expungement. However, certain types of charges, including manslaughter, homicide, sex offenses, burglary, and drug trafficking are ineligible for expungement.

You may only have one expungement granted in your lifetime. If your case meets the eligibility requirements, you can file a petition with the court to have it expunged with the help of our criminal defense lawyers in Orlando. The court will review the petition and determine whether or not to grant it.

Learn more from our attorneys

Dismissal and expungement aren’t synonymous, but they can go hand-in-hand. For example, if you’re able to have your case dismissed, you may then be eligible for expungement. Either option can positively impact your future by providing an opportunity to move forward after being charged with a crime.

While there’s no guarantee of either outcome, working with an experienced attorney can greatly increase your chances of achieving a favorable result. Whether it’s a dismissal or expungement you’re after, the Orlando criminal defense attorneys at Katz & Phillips, P.A. can help you understand your options and determine the best course of action for your particular case.

From there, we can guide you through the necessary steps and advocate on your behalf. Contact us today to learn more and get started.

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Will I automatically lose my job if I get arrested?

Will I automatically lose my
job if I get arrested?

Whether you have an active warrant or were recently arrested, it’s natural to be concerned about the fate of your job.

In Florida, the answer to this question isn’t necessarily clear-cut. Due to the state’s “at will” employment laws, most employers are free to make their own hiring and firing decisions. As a result, your employer may or may not decide to terminate you depending on various circumstances. 

Continue reading for more information, then contact the Orlando criminal defense lawyers at Katz & Phillips, P.A. for personalized guidance.

will I lose my job if I get arrested

Certain careers make job loss more likely

If your job requires special state licensing, a criminal record — including an arrest — could have serious implications for your employment.

For example, if you’re a licensed healthcare professional in Florida, a criminal charge could lead to an investigation by the Department of Health. Florida law doesn’t mandate the loss of medical licenses for criminal charges, but the licensing board has the authority to revoke your license if they feel it’s warranted.

Some employees are entitled to due process

On the other hand, certain types of careers may protect you from immediate job loss. For instance, individuals employed by federal, state, and county agencies are entitled to “due process” before they can be terminated from their jobs. Tenured teachers who are employed by the public school system are one example of workers who fall under this category.

“Due process” means that the employer must notify the employee in advance of their impending termination and allow them to defend themselves at a hearing.

During the hearing, the employer must demonstrate that they have a compelling reason for the termination. While your employer may still choose to fire you, this added layer of protection gives you the opportunity to explain your circumstances in a formal setting and potentially avoid job loss.

The nature of the crime often matters

The nature of your criminal charge will also play a role in whether you lose your job, either in the immediate aftermath of the arrest or during a court hearing.

For instance, if you’re arrested for an offense involving violence, theft, or drugs or alcohol, your employer may be more likely to decide to sever ties with you. Alternatively, if you’re arrested for something “minor” like contempt of court, loitering, disorderly conduct, or trespass, your employer may be more willing to overlook the incident — but there’s no guarantee.

Consider your employer's policies

Some employers have policies in place that may affect the outcome of your job. If you have an employment contract, for example, it may contain provisions about criminal charges and their consequences. Some employers have “zero tolerance” policies that might require them to terminate your employment if you’re arrested, regardless of the nature of the crime.

Other policies may protect you from termination. If you’re in a union, for instance, your union’s collective bargaining agreement may require the employer to issue a warning before taking disciplinary action for minor criminal charges.

Additionally, if you’re a contracted employee with a specified term, the employer may not have grounds to terminate you before that term expires unless your contract specifically mentions criminal charges.

Orlando criminal defense lawyers help you understand your rights

Ultimately, the best way to protect your job is to avoid a conviction. While an arrest may or may not have an immediate impact on your employment depending on the circumstances, a conviction almost certainly will.

If you’ve been charged with a crime in Florida, it’s in your best interests to consult a qualified attorney. At Katz & Phillips, P.A., we understand that your job and reputation are on the line and will do everything we can to help you secure a favorable outcome.

Our experienced criminal defense lawyers in Orlando can review your case and guide you through your legal options. Contact us at (321) 332-6864 to learn more and schedule a consultation.

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