Expungement Versus Sealing: Which One Is Right For Me?

 Posted on February 25,2020 in Expungement

Arlington Heights criminal defense attorney expungement

If you have been convicted of a crime in Illinois, your life can change in many ways. Even if your offense was a non-violent or minor act, you will still have a criminal record that will appear on background checks. This can make it difficult to secure housing or even obtain employment. Unfortunately, an arrest or a criminal charge can also create a criminal record, even if you were not convicted or charges were not pursued. Because of this, the state of Illinois has created the process of expungement to have your criminal record cleared, essentially giving you a fresh start in the eyes of the law. Another option is sealing a record, which hides it from certain people, although it still exists. Read on to learn more about the difference between these two legal actions. 

Options For Clearing Your Record

In Illinois, there are two ways you can clear your record -- expungement or sealing. The process that you go through typically depends on the type of record you are trying to clear and its eligibility. Certain offenses and dispositions are not eligible for expungement but are eligible for sealing. The process of pursuing an expungement or sealing your criminal records is nearly identical, although the outcome is different.


An expungement is most people’s first option when it comes to clearing their criminal record, because it erases all eligible offenses. With an expungement, it is as if your offenses never happened. However, there are requirements your records must meet in order to be eligible for expungement. For a criminal record to qualify for expungement, your case must not have resulted in a conviction, unless that conviction was reversed or vacated. If you were sentenced to court supervision, at least two years must have passed after successful completion of your sentence, or five years for certain types of offenses. If you were sentenced to probation, you must wait at least five years after completing your sentence to apply for expungement. If you do not qualify for expungement, you may still qualify for sealing.


Sealing is similar to expungement, but it does not erase your record. For most of the general public, your criminal record is hidden, but some groups, such as law enforcement, can still see it. As with expungement, there are certain requirements that your record must meet. Most convictions for misdemeanors and felonies can be sealed as long as at least three years have passed since you completed your sentence. However, there are some convictions that cannot be sealed, including:

Contact a Rolling Meadows Criminal Defense Attorney 

If you have a criminal record in Illinois that you would like to clear, expungement or sealing may be possible depending on the circumstances of the offense. Your first step is talking with a skilled Arlington Heights, IL expungement lawyer. Scott F. Anderson, Attorney at Law has worked in the criminal defense field for more than 20 years, and he has helped numerous clients clear their criminal records. To find out which option is best for your situation, call our office today at 847-253-3400 to set up a free consultation.




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