Expungement and criminal record sealing are two different ways to clear a criminal record in Illinois. One isn’t necessarily better than the other is, but you may be eligible for criminal record sealing and ineligible for expungement. This guide explains the differences between the two and what you should choose if you’re presented with the option.
Is Expungement Better Than Criminal Record Sealing?
Expungement is the process of completely erasing your criminal record. When a judge agrees to your expungement petition, the court sends a notice to all the agencies and entities that have an official file with your criminal record (such as the agency that arrested you). That notice tells them to destroy your record or return it to you. In that sense, it’s like you never had a run in with the law.
Related: The steps a lawyer will take to expunge your record
Criminal record sealing gives you a different outcome. Your record still exists, but it’s unavailable to most of the public. In fact, if your record is sealed, it’s generally only available to law enforcement officials, people working for the courts in an official capacity, and some employers and educators. For example, employers that conduct fingerprint based background checks will most likely still be able to see your criminal record, even if it’s sealed. These employers are typically involved in things like law enforcement, the military, or health care.
Related: Life after expungement: What’s next?
There are several benefits to expungement, including the fact that it’s like nothing ever happened. In that sense, you get the fresh start you deserve.
However, not every offense is eligible for expungement. In fact, most convictions are ineligible for expungement. You can typically only expunge arrests that never led to a conviction, findings of not guilty, and a few other things. You should speak to an attorney about your options if you have a criminal record, because your lawyer will be able to tell you which offenses on your record are eligible for expungement and which are eligible for criminal record sealing.
Related: Why you need a criminal record expungement attorney in Chicago
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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