Is it Better to Seal or Expunge Arrest Records in Illinois?

Is it better to seal or expunge arrest records in Illinois? If you were arrested and never charged with a crime, your case was dismissed, or you were found not guilty of the crime, you’re eligible to do either, so this guide can help you decide what’s best for you.

Is it Better to Seal or Expunge Arrest Records in Illinois?

Sealing and expungement are similar, but they’re not exactly the same thing. When you seal a criminal record, it’s still available to some people – and that means if certain people conduct a background check or look into your criminal history, they’ll be able to see it. Expungement completely erases your record, so it’s like nothing ever happened; there’s nothing for anyone to see, even if they dig around your criminal history or conduct a fingerprint-based background check.

When it comes to sealing or expunging an arrest record, you have a choice. You can erase it from your record completely or you can seal it so that most people can’t see it. It’s completely up to you, but one thing is certain: If you were arrested but never convicted of the crime you were arrested for, or if you were found not guilty or your case was dismissed, you don’t have to keep the arrest on your criminal record.

Related: Can you seal an arson charge on your criminal record?

Sealing an Arrest Record

Sealing your arrest record means that it’s not going to come up in a standard criminal background check. The agencies that have your record will hide it from nearly everyone who may look for it. However, some people will still be able to see it, including some employers (such as those in healthcare, the police, and the military). Really, any entity that conducts a fingerprint-based background check may be able to see that you were once arrested.

Expunging an Arrest Record

Expunging your arrest record means that the record of your arrest is destroyed or returned to you. Nobody can see it because there’s nothing there – it’s like it never even happened. 

Related: What to look for when you expunge your criminal record in Illinois

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Sealing or Expunging an Arrest Record in Illinois?

Sealing and expunging an arrest record follow similar processes, and for many people, the easiest way to clear a record is to go through an attorney. Your attorney can fill out and file the appropriate paperwork for you so all you need to do is wait for your petition to make its way through the court system. 

If you’d like to speak to an attorney about cleaning up your criminal record by sealing or expunging an arrest record, call us at 847-920-4540 or fill out the form below. We’ll be happy to provide you with a free case review.

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