What’s the Difference Between Expungement and Sealing?

If you’re like most people whose past criminal records are holding them back, you’re probably wondering what you can do to get the fresh start you deserve – and you’ve probably heard about expungement and sealing under Illinois law.

But what’s the difference between expunging and sealing a record in Illinois, and are you eligible to do either?

The Differences Between Expunging and Sealing

Expungement and sealing are two different ways to achieve similar results. The idea behind both is that you can remove or conceal parts of your criminal record from the general public.

However, each has different requirements. Further, different people can see different parts of your criminal history, depending on whether you expunge or seal your records.

Expungement in Illinois

A criminal record expungement completely erases some things from your record, which may include:

  • Arrests
  • Court supervisions
  • Certain probations

However, you have to be eligible for expungement in Illinois; not everyone is. People who are not eligible for expungement may still be eligible for sealing

Sealing in Illinois

In the state of Illinois, you may be able to seal some or all of your criminal record. Unlike expungement, sealing doesn’t erase your records – but it does hide them from most of the public. Law enforcement agencies and the military can still see your sealed record, and employers who are required by law to conduct background checks will still be able to view your sealed felony convictions.

In some cases, even Class 3 and Class 4 felonies can be sealed from public view.

What You Need for Expungement or Sealing

If you want to expunge or seal your criminal record, your lawyer will need your entire criminal history. In some cases, it’s best to ask your attorney to conduct a complete criminal background check

Once you have your entire criminal history, your lawyer will be able to determine whether you’re eligible for expungement or sealing. You may have to go before the court (depending on your jurisdiction) before your criminal record can be cleared. If the state’s attorney objects, your lawyer will argue on your behalf.

Need Help with Expungement or Sealing in Chicago, Skokie, Rolling Meadows or Schaumburg?

If you need help getting your criminal record expunged or sealed in Chicago or the surrounding communities, call us at 847-920-4540 or get in touch with us online. If you qualify for either type of criminal record clearing, we’ll be able to help you get the fresh start you deserve.