Expungement vs. Sealing

Expungement vs. Sealed


You may have your criminal history expunged or sealed under Illinois law.  But, knowing the difference between expungement vs. sealed can be confusing.  This page will explain the difference, and help guide you to what you need to know before calling Carbondale, IL criminal defense lawyer Brian Roberts.

Expungement in Illinois

An expungement means that all records of your case are completely removed and destroyed from all files under the government’s control.  It might be helpful to think of an Expungement in Illinois as “wiping the slate clean.”  It is as if the incident that gave you a criminal record never occurred.

Sealing a Criminal Record in Illinois

When your criminal record is sealed in Illinois the records are not erased.  They still exist in the files of the agencies that created them in the first place.  Sealing the records simply moves them to place where they are not available to anyone who wishes to see them.  It might be helpful to think of a sealed criminal history as one that is under lock and key, and only people with the right key can access those records.  The records still exist, but only a select group of people can see them.  Generally, the only people who can see sealed records are law enforcement, and a special class of employers such as schools, health care providers, military, financial institutions, and child care providers.

Felony arrests/convictions

There are a couple of factors that determine whether your criminal history can be expunged vs. sealed.  The general rule is that felony convictions cannot be sealed or expunged.  There are a few exceptions to this rule.  The following convictions may be sealed:

  • Class 4 drug possession charges under Section 4 of the Cannabis Control Act;
  • Violations under Section 402 of the Controlled Substances Act;
  • Violations of the Steroid Control Act;
  • Violations under the Methamphetamine Precursor Control Act;
  • Any felony arrest that did not result in a prosecution may be expunged if you meet other criteria;
  • Class 4 felony prostitution cases.

Misdemeanor arrests/convictions

Most misdemeanor convictions can be expunged if you file the appropriate petition with the Court two years after you have completed any court supervision.  Court supervision includes probation, counseling classes, and all other forms of supervision.  There are certain misdemeanor convictions, such as a DUI in Illinois, that can never be expunged or sealed.

If you have further questions about whether your misdemeanor or felony arrest or conviction may be expunged vs. sealed in Illinois then contact the Carbondale, IL criminal defense lawyers at the Roberts Law Firm now for a free, confidential consultation.  Do not let one mistake ruin your opportunities in life.  Contact us today!