Keeping Your Record Clean Is Very Important
Your court record may read "Convicted"
Even if you have not been convicted, a Fingerprint Card and Bench Trial Docket document may be found in the Official Records of Miami-Dade County reflecting that you were CONVICTED of Reckless Driving in court. The record is signed by a County Court Judge. This record of CONVICTION is wrong and a mistake by the Court and the Clerk, but it is, nevertheless, an Official Record of Miami-Dade County. We know this is a mistake in the court records, because the judge’s sentence was a “withhold of adjudication” - meaning no conviction – but, it’s there anyway.
How this could affect you
This mistake by the Court and Clerk might affect you when applying for a mortgage, a new job, a license, insurance or in future legal proceedings. Public searches for your name with the Clerk of Court in Miami-Dade would find this record indicating a CONVICTION for Reckless Driving.
What can you do?
Call us at (305) 677-0563 contact us online. We will work to correct their mistake by filing a motion with the Court to require the Clerk to remove, correct, or amend the public record that wrongfully documents you as having received a CONVICTION.
Five Facts About Keeping Your Record Clean
There are some very important things you need to know about your criminal record after a DUI arrest:
- If you've been arrested, you have a record, even if the case was dismissed
- A juvenile record does not seal automatically when you turn 18
- A felony conviction never goes away unless it is expunged or sealed
- Your arrest record is publicly accessible unless it is expunged or sealed
- Your arrest record may not ever completely disappear
There is a way for you to erase the record of your arrest from criminal justice agencies. Clients whose cases were dismissed or dropped may be eligible to apply for an expungement. Clients that comply with the terms of their probation or criminal sentence may be eligible to request their record be sealed, if the court withheld adjudication of guilt. The sealing process can be time consuming and tedious for the average person. We can guide you through the process, file all the necessary forms, pay fees and obtain an order from the Court sealing or expunging your record.
The Difference Between Sealing and Expungement
Record sealing and expungement are two different things, but with little practical difference. If you were arrested, plead guilty or no contest to the charges, or were found guilty after a trial and adjudication was withheld, you may be eligible to apply for sealing. If your case was either dismissed by the judge or dropped by the state and did not proceed to trial, you can apply for expungement. By getting your record sealed, the public will not have access to this record. If asked if you have been arrested, you can answer “NO”. Some government agencies or agencies related to the government will have access to a criminal history record that has been sealed and you cannot deny the arrest to them.
When a criminal history record has been expunged, the record is destroyed and cannot be accessed except by law enforcement or the courts, by court order. Without a signed order they will only see a statement describing that a criminal history record has been expunged.
Back on Track Success Stories
The Back on Track Program can provide a great alternative disposition for some first-time DUI offenders. But, not everyone is eligible for the program. Some first-time offenders are disqualified for admission into the program because their cases involve a crash, they have minors in the car, too many serious moving traffic violations in the past 5 years or very high blood alcohol levels. If you are facing your 1st DUI charge, speak with our Miami DUI attorney to discuss whether the DUI diversion program may be beneficial for your case.
Here are just a few examples of how I have been able to help my clients by securing their admission into the program, despite ineligibility:
Success Story #1
Client was a college student at the University of Miami. He struck an unoccupied police cruiser from the rear, causing the cruiser to cross six lanes of traffic. Breath alcohol level .17. Client not eligible for Back on Track.
We compiled a mitigation package containing dozens of letters of recommendations, accomplishments, college transcripts and community service for presentation to the State Attorney's Office. Then, we met with the officer involved in the case and obtained his consent for referral to the program. Met with the Chief of County Court for the State Attorney's Office and obtained approval.
Success Story #2
Client is a professor at a local college. She allegedly bumped the rear of a taxi cab who stopped suddenly at an intersection. Technically not permitted to enroll in Back on Track Program.
We provided the State Attorney's Office with photographs of the client's car, as well as the taxi cab. Photos showed that no crash of any significance occurred. Client admitted with approval of State Attorney's Office.
Success Story #3
Client is a hotel concierge on South Beach. Arrested for DUI travelling 90 mph, with open containers of alcohol in car. Breath test result, .22. Driving record revealed more than 15 moving violations in the past 10 years. Not eligible for Back on Track.
We moved to vacate some of the past driving convictions and sent the client to enroll in DUI school and take YouImpact classes prior to discussing case with prosecutors. Obtained approval from police officer and prosecutors to refer to program.
Success Story #4
Client works for major newspaper publishing company. Client has one prior arrest for DUI, but no conviction, as that charge was successfully defended by us. Allegedly found throwing up at a local gas station inside the car and observed by helicopters. Prior arrest makes client ineligible.
Persuaded prosecutors that the stop of the client's car was likely illegal and that they might not win a motion to suppress all evidence, on the last day of the speedy trial time period. Rather than risking losing the case completely, the state offered us participation in the program.
Not Completing the Program is Serious Business
The Back on Track Program in Miami-Dade County was created by the State Attorney's Office, so your trial judge can't and won't intervene if you don't complete the conditions of the program - or you pick up a new law violation. The result of either of these circumstances is that your case is returned to court for criminal prosecution.
What Can Happen If They Bounce You Out of the Program?
Things like not completing community service hours in time, or unfulfilled financial obligations are on the low end of the severity scale when it comes to getting the prosecutors to agree to re-enrolling you or extending your time for completion. In many cases, an experienced Miami DUI Attorney can negotiate a re-enrollment. However, failing a drug test, picking up a new law violation (not a traffic ticket) or failing an Ignition Interlock Device blow will bounce your case right back to a trial date.
Also, keep in mind that the State Attorney's Office requires program participants to sign a "Statement of Personal Responsibility" acknowledging driving under the influence at the time of arrest. The statement also requires you to waive any challenge to the legal admissibility of the document when the prosecutors attempt to use it at your trial. A few judges even require you to read the statement aloud in court and record your voice doing so.
With that in mind, make the choice of participating in the program a serious one. If you take it - do it and don't mess up.