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Florida Bar Character and Fitness Information Resources

Grand Jury Inquiry

Grand Jury, Questions 23a & 23b

Question 23(a) asks if you have ever received a subpoena, a target letter or an information letter letting you know you are the subject of a grand jury investigation. This information should be in a criminal history report. If you were not indicted or charged by the grand jury or if you were offered or given immunity, as noted in 23(b), from a criminal proceeding in return for testifying, you still must obtain the information in order to report it.  

Felony Charges

Felonies, Questions 19a, 19b, 19c, 19d and 19e

Subpart 19(a) asks for disclosure of any felony accusation, even if that charge was later dismissed, reduced, or "bound down."

Subpart 19(b) breaks that down to actual felony convictions.

Question 19(c), goes into further detail whether any sort of incarceration was imposed, even if the incarceration portion of the sentence was suspended.

Probation is covered in Question 19(d).

If your civil rights were restored after a felony conviction, Part 19(e) of this question calls for a positive response.

Background and criminal history ‘checks’ or ‘reports’ contain varying information depending what entity you obtain it from, but at a minimum, they contain information on whether the person has been arrested and/or convicted of a crime. A criminal history report will include both felonies and misdemeanors for the reported person.

Expunged, sealed, or juvenile records may not be covered in the report (see Special Note below). Typically, criminal records can be obtained only at the state level, unless you are an authorized agency. Therefore, make a note of every state where you may have a record, and obtain a report from that state.

Special Note: A criminal history record will not include expunged or sealed criminal information, nor will it include juvenile records unless the criminal record would have been for a felony if it were committed by an adult. Therefore, it is critical to unseal and petition the appropriate court to get this information released as well.  You may have to contact the court either in writing or by calling.

In Florida, information about criminal history can be obtained from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). The report is for Florida only, and there is a fee associated with the report.

You can submit a request for a Criminal History Summary Check directly to the FBI Identity History Summary Check which includes arrests made by reporting agencies.

Misdemeanor Criminal Records

Misdemeanors, Question 20

This question covers all non-felony criminal and ordinance violations from age 16.

Criminal records in most states can be obtained online. There is usually a fee associated with obtaining the record whether you get the record online or mail your request to the appropriate agency or court.

The following are helpful steps to ensure you find all misdemeanors and other criminal history records information:

1. Request a criminal history record or background check for every state in which you believe you may have been arrested or charged with a crime, legal violation, or received a traffic ticket that may have carried criminal implications. A simple internet search of your state name and criminal record report or criminal history check (ex. Georgia criminal history report) should return the state's website for obtaining criminal records in that state. Avoid commercial vendors if possible.

2. If you are unsure or cannot remember whether you may have a criminal record in another state, request a criminal history or background check from every state where you may have a record.

3. Another way you may be able to find criminal records is to go to the county clerk of courts for the counties you have been in and check the records. This method is free, but does require more work and knowledge of all the counties you have been in. Additionally, some counties in some states do not provide web access to court records.

4. Remember that some serious traffic violations also carry a criminal record, so make sure you verify that any traffic offenses are not misdemeanors or criminal offenses, especially if the violation occurred in a state other than Florida.

5. Keep a detailed record of where you searched, when you searched and who you spoke to in case you cannot find the information and the Bar Examiners ask you about it later.

Florida Criminal & Traffic Records Information

To search for criminal records in any state, you need to know the jurisdiction in which the crime was committed. Individual clerks of court will have criminal record searches.

Keep in mind that different courts classify cases differently. To respond accurately to the questions related to felonies or misdemeanors, you will have to parse out offenses by type.

Remember that any sealed or expunged criminal records will have to be unsealed or unexpunged as part of your bar application process.

For a fee, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) will provide a detailed criminal record history for Florida offenses. 

For a criminal records search use the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) website.

To search criminal, traffic and other legal proceeding records, use Duval County Public Records search. You can request records or search the online portal yourself.

If your criminal records are sealed, you will need to unseal them for access. Use a sample Order to Unseal and Reseal Records from the Florida Board of Bar Examiners.

Florida Clerks of Courts Listing - other counties

This listing for all Florida counties provides the street address and phone numbers for all Florida Clerk of the County Courts Offices.