Chicago Criminal Expungements Blog

Monday, April 11, 2016

Expungement vs. Sealing: The Basics

Expungement and sealing are two different legal processes, but both have similar results: some or all of your criminal record will be hidden from public view.

So what are the key differences between expungement and criminal record sealing?

Expungement vs. Sealing in Illinois

You may be able to expunge or seal your criminal record whether or not you’ve been convicted of a crime.

If you were arrested, or arrested and charged but not convicted, you could have a criminal record that’s eligible for either expungement or sealing. However, in order to qualify for expungement, you must never have been convicted of a crime (with a few exceptions, including exceptions for honorably discharged veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces).

Expungement or Sealing if You Were Convicted of a Crime

Typically, your record can’t be expunged if you were convicted of a crime—but you might be eligible for sealing. (You can answer a few simple questions to find out whether you might be eligible using our “Am I Eligible for Expungement?” tool.)

However, you can have some misdemeanors and felony convictions sealed. Many misdemeanor convictions can be sealed, as can certain drug-related or prostitution-related felonies if you meet certain conditions.

What if You Don’t Qualify for Expungement or Sealing?

If you don’t qualify for expungement or sealing, the only way to clear your criminal record in the state of Illinois is through a pardon from the governor. It’s usually a good idea to talk to a Chicago expungement and sealing attorney to find out whether there’s a way to clear your name and get a fresh start.

Do You Want to Expunge or Seal Your Criminal Record in Chicago?

If you’re thinking about clearing your criminal record, either through expungement or sealing, we may be able to help you.

Call us at 847-920-4540 or get in touch with us online for a free case review. We’ll look over the circumstances and help get you pointed in the right direction.


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