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Record Sealing vs. Expungement: What’s the Difference?

 Posted on June 06, 2024 in Uncategorized

Grundy County Record Sealing LawyerIf you have a criminal record, you might be wondering about your options for moving forward. Two common paths are record sealing and expungement. But what exactly do these terms mean, and how do they differ? An Illinois lawyer can help you clear up any confusion.

What is Record Sealing?

When your criminal record is sealed in Illinois, it is hidden from public view. This means potential employers, landlords, and most other members of the public will not be able to access it. However, law enforcement agencies and the courts can still see your sealed record.

Sealing is available for many misdemeanors and even some felonies. Typically, you need to wait three years after completing your sentence to request sealing. Some offenses, like domestic battery, may require a longer waiting period.

What is Expungement?

Expungement, on the other hand, is a more comprehensive solution. When a record is expunged in Illinois, it is not just hidden—it is completely erased, as if the offense never happened. The arresting agency will destroy their records, and the court clerk will remove all mentions of the case from their files.

Not every offense is eligible for expungement. Generally, expungement is available for arrests that did not lead to a conviction, convictions that were reversed or vacated, and certain misdemeanors if you have no other convictions on your record. Some cannabis offenses are also now eligible under Illinois’ new marijuana laws.

The Main Differences Between Sealing and Expungement

So, what sets these two options apart? The main difference is the level of erasure. With sealing, your record still exists, but most people cannot see it. With expungement, it is like the offense never even took place.

Another distinction is eligibility. More offenses are eligible for sealing than for expungement. If you have a conviction on your record, sealing is likely your only option.

It is also worth noting that some offenses, like minor traffic violations and DUIs, are not eligible for either sealing or expungement in Illinois.

Which Option is Right for You?

The path you choose depends on your specific situation. If you have a conviction that is eligible for sealing, that may be your best bet. If you were arrested but never convicted, or if your conviction was reversed, expungement could give you a truly fresh start.

In either case, the process can be challenging. It involves gathering records, filing petitions, and potentially attending hearings. An attorney can guide you through the process and help you achieve the best possible outcome.

Contact a Grundy County, IL Criminal Defense Lawyer

A criminal record can hold you back in countless ways. It can make it harder to find a job, secure housing, or even pursue higher education. By sealing or expunging your record, you can open up new opportunities and leave your past mistakes behind. Call Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C. at 815-740-4025 for a free consultation with a Will County, IL criminal defense attorney.

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