What Is the Difference Between Sealing and Expunging Criminal Records?
Having a criminal record can prevent a person from obtaining adequate employment, limit the person’s ability to find safe and affordable housing, and disqualify him or her from certain educational opportunities. However, everyone deserves a second chance, and a person’s past should not dictate his or her future. One way that Illinois residents may be able to avoid the negative consequences of having a criminal record is through record sealing or expungement. However, not all crimes are eligible to be expunged or sealed, so it is important to understand the difference between the two options.
Record Sealing in Illinois
If an individual has his or her criminal record “sealed,” this means that the record is largely hidden from public view. Most employers cannot see records that have been sealed, but law enforcement officials or prosecutors are still able to view sealed records. Only some criminal offenses are eligible for record sealing. These include:
Convictions for certain misdemeanor and felony offenses if at least three years have passed since the record holder completed his or her sentence
Certain offenses regulated by the Controlled Substances Act, the Cannabis Control Act, or the Methamphetamine Control Act
There are a number of criminal offenses that are not eligible for record sealing. These include but are not limited to:
Patronizing or soliciting a prostitute
Crimes that require the offender to register as a sex offender
Violation of an order of protection or civil no-contact order
Illinois Record Expungement
Many people do not realize that if they are arrested and charged with a criminal offense, they will have a criminal record. This is true even if the person was acquitted or the charges were dismissed. This means that the record of the arrest or charge can show up on a criminal background check. Fortunately, expungement offers a way for some people to have these records erased.
Unlike record sealing, record expungement effectively destroys the record of certain arrests or court supervision. Arrests that did not result in a conviction, certain probation sentences, and certain sentences for court supervision are eligible for expungement. However, criminal charges that resulted in a conviction are not eligible for expungement unless the conviction was vacated, reversed, or pardoned.
Contact an Illinois Expungement Lawyer
Getting your criminal record sealed or expunged can be a complicated legal process. To learn if you are eligible for expungement or sealing, seek professional legal counsel. At the Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC, we believe everyone deserves a second chance. Schedule a free, confidential consultation with an experienced St. Charles criminal defense attorney from our firm. Call us today at 630-232-1780 to begin clearing your record.