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How New Record Sealing Law Provides Greater Protection to Defendants

St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Lawyer

In the current information age, more and more charges and convictions are entered by jurisdictions online to be searched indefinitely by future Internet users. Privacy advocates have voiced broader concerns and individuals who may have had legal action taken against them in St. Petersburg or elsewhere may find that their legal information is searchable online. Concerned about the effect on residents, Florida lawmakers introduced legislation that would allow certain criminal history to be sealed and booking photographs to be removed from the Internet. The implications of the legislation have potentially far-reaching ramifications in Florida.

Florida Senate Passed Senate Bill 118 Regarding Criminal History Records

The bill, (SB 118), was first introduced by Florida State Senator Greg Steube who originally sought to have booking photographs removed from specific websites on the Internet. Additions were later made to the bill that would seal arrest records when charges are dismissed, potentially affecting nearly three million criminal records in Florida. SB 118 could achieve at least three things:

  • Prohibit a person or entity engaged in publishing arrest booking photos from soliciting or accepting a fee to remove a photo
  • Allow a person whose arrest booking photo is published to request in writing that it be removed
  • Under certain circumstances, allow for the criminal history records of an adult to be sealed by the clerk of court

What Happens Now?

Florida Governor Rick Scott signed SB 118 into law, but it will not take effect until July 1, 2018. Governor Scott has indicated that the wording of the bill will prevent him from sealing records, thus criminal records would remain open to the public. Open government groups continue to voice concern that criminal records could still be sealed under the law.

Call a St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Lawyer to Learn More About How this Law Affects You

The number of criminal charges and records retained on the Internet has increased due to technological advances and government efforts towards openness. Some states have attempted to create a fairer system by allowing certain criminal charges to be sealed. Find out how this new law may affect you. To schedule a free evaluation with a St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Lawyer, call Khonsari Law Group today at 727-269-5300 or send us an email through our online contact form.

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