Florida Justice Center Offers Free Criminal Record Sealing
Florida legal aid organization provides free lawyers and launches fundraiser with goal of clearing 400 arrest records throughout the state.
Oakland Park, FL (March 2, 2021) –
Imagine being denied a job or housing because of your arrest record even though you were found innocent. It isn’t that difficult to imagine since every year many of the 700,000 people arrested in Florida face that exact situation.
The Florida Justice Center today announced that it will provide free attorneys to anyone in Florida who qualifies to have their arrest record sealed or expunged. At the same time, FLJC is seeking $57,200 in donations to cover the required fees for 400 innocent people.
Last May, 66 protestors were arrested in Jacksonville, Florida while demanding justice for George Floyd. By August, 64 of those cases were dropped by prosecutors. Those 64 people were never convicted of a crime yet any standard background check will identify them as a criminal. Due to state law, no arrest may be removed from a criminal history unless the individual files for their record to be sealed or expunged and pays $143 in processing fees.
“The sealing and expungement process is long and complicated and can be daunting without an attorney to help complete and file the paperwork. The fees may be prohibitive to lower income individuals who are suffering because of underemployment from having an arrest record,” explained Florida Justice Center Director of Legal Services Alex Saiz, Esq.
The initiative is led by Alex Saiz and Florida Justice Center Vice-Chair Melba Pearson, Esq.
“With over 20 law students and undergraduate interns from Florida International University, Florida A&M University, Barry University, and Miami-Dade College, as well as three supervising attorneys and three pro bono attorneys participating, we are ready to give people a fresh start,” said Florida Justice Center Executive Director Jonathan Bleiweiss.
Anyone interested in sealing or expunging their record can learn more at FLJC.org/Seal. Everyone will be screened for eligibility for sealing and expungement.
Donations are accepted at FLJC.org/Donate.
*Update February 1, 2023: Services are no longer free to those making more than 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. See sliding scale fees here.
ABOUT FLORIDA JUSTICE CENTER
Florida Justice Center is the state’s only legal aid organization dedicated to helping people with justice-involvement. Authorized by the Florida Supreme Court, FLJC works to lower the effects of an arrest through free and low-cost legal services, as well as connections to community service providers.
With a mission to empower individuals by providing legal support, community education, and removing barriers to success caused by the criminal justice system, FLJC succeeds in helping thousands of individuals each year.