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(773) 908-9811



Aggressive. Experienced.

Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney
Former Cook County Felony Prosecutor

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Sealing vs Expunging in IL: Which Is Better

Sealing and expunging are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but the truth is they are two very different things – and they’ll accomplish different things in the state of Illinois as well.

Is it better to have your record expunged or sealed in the state? In some cases, you do have a choice of which one you would like to go through – so which is the best choice? Read on to find out.

Who Can Choose Between Sealing and Expungement?

The most important thing to know about sealing and expungement is eligibility. Some cases are eligible for either, while some don’t qualify for any of this type of relief. However, if you were found not guilty at trial, you were never charged with a crime, but you were arrested for it, or if the case against you was ultimately dismissed, it’s your choice as to whether you want your criminal record to be sealed or expunged.

Cases ineligible for Expungement or Sealing

Some cases can never be expunged or sealed in Illinois. DUIs and reckless driving, for example, cannot be expunged. Also, domestic battery, stalking, no contact orders, protective order violations, reckless driving, DUIs, sex crimes, and crimes against animals cannot be sealed, either.

Sealing or Expungement?

While these two things are similar, they are not the same. Sealing a criminal record means that some people can still view it or see it on a background check that details your criminal history. On the other hand, expungement basically makes it as if your record never existed – and nothing ever happened to you. A background check will not show any blemishes on your record.

The choice of which of these things you want to do is totally up to you. You can make it as if nothing ever happened, or you can make it so that only certain people associated with the court and law enforcement can see it. It is important to note that if you were not found guilty or convicted of a crime, you should work with an attorney to get your criminal record sealed or expunged.

Cases ineligible for Expungement or Sealing in Chicago Illinois

How To Seal or Expunge a Record in Illinois

If you choose sealing or expungement, you must meet with your lawyer and present them with a copy of your complete criminal history. Your attorney can have a thorough criminal background check done on you to help, and once done, you can determine if you are eligible for either sealing or expungement. Your attorney will then file the proper paperwork as you sit back and wait for your petition to work its way through the court system in the state.

Depending on the jurisdiction, you may have to go before the court to complete the process. In some cases, the lawyer for the state of Illinois may object to the judge. If that happens, then your attorney can argue on your behalf.

If you are interested in finding out more about sealing or expungement in Illinois, meet with an attorney who specializes in this area as soon as possible. They can help guide you through the process and get your future back on track.


About the Author:

Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor serving as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes. His work has been recognized by Avvo, Expertise, National Trial Lawyers, and others, and he has been featured on countless news outlets for his experience and knowledge in criminal law.

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