Expungement vs. Sealing: Knowing the Difference in Illinois

When it comes to overcoming a past criminal record in Illinois, understanding your options is key. You may have heard about processes like expungement and sealing but might be unsure about their differences and what they mean for you. This guide aims to clear up any confusion.

Expungement vs. Sealing: Knowing the Difference in Illinois

Within this guide, we’ll dive into:

  • The definition of expungement
  • The definition of sealing
  • The key differences between expungement and sealing
  • The potential benefits of each process
  • How to determine which option is best for you

Here’s a closer look at each.

The Definition of Expungement

Expungement refers to the process of completely removing a criminal record, making it as though the criminal conviction or arrest never happened. After successful expungement, the record won’t appear in public criminal checks.

The Definition of Sealing

Sealing, on the other hand, doesn’t erase the record. Instead, it restricts access to your criminal record, making it invisible to most background checks. However, law enforcement and certain agencies can still access sealed records if necessary.

Related: What you need to know about clearing your criminal record in Chicago

The Key Differences Between Expungement and Sealing

The main difference between expungement and sealing lies in who can access the records. With expungement, the record is effectively erased. With sealing, it’s simply hidden from most public views. Another difference is eligibility; some records may only be eligible for sealing, not expungement.

The Potential Benefits of Each Process

Both expungement and sealing can help you move forward. They can improve your chances of securing employment, housing, or education without a criminal record holding you back. While expungement offers a clean slate, sealing limits the visibility of your past mistakes.

How to Determine Which Option is Best for You

Choosing between expungement and sealing depends on various factors, such as the type of crime, your personal circumstances, and your future goals. Consulting with a lawyer can provide you with guidance tailored to your specific situation.

FAQ About Expungement and Sealing in Illinois

Check out these commonly asked questions about the difference between expungement and sealing in Illinois. If you don’t see the answers here, please call our office and we’ll get you the information you need.

Related: FAQ on criminal record expungement in Chicago

Q: How long does it take for a record to be expunged or sealed?

A: The process can take several months to a year, depending on the complexity of the case and the court’s schedule.

Q: Does everyone qualify for expungement or sealing?

A: Not every case qualifies. Eligibility depends on the nature of the offense, the outcome of the case, and the length of time that’s passed since the offense.

Q: Can I apply for both expungement and sealing?

A: In some cases, yes, but it’s best to discuss your options with a lawyer to understand which process is best for your situation.

Understanding the differences between expungement and sealing is crucial in making an informed decision about your future. Remember, you’re not defined by your past mistakes. You have the power to change your narrative, and we’re here to assist you in that journey.

Related: Which is better – expungement or sealing?

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Expungement or Sealing?

If you’re tired of your criminal past coming back to bite you, we may be able to help. Call us right now at 847-920-4540 or fill out the form below so we can talk about your case.

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