If you’re like most people, you want a fresh start – and for some people, that’s possible through criminal record expungement. But can cops see expunged records?

Here’s what you need to know.

Can Cops See Expunged Records?

Cops can’t see expunged records in Illinois. That’s because expungement means that your records are destroyed or returned to you. There’s nothing for the police to see when your record is expunged.

Criminal record sealing is a different story, though. When a judge orders your records sealed, the general public can’t see them. However, cops and others working within the criminal justice system can (and so can some employers).

If you don’t want anyone to see your criminal record, expungement is the right choice for you. However, some criminal records don’t qualify for expungement.

Can Any Criminal Records Be Expunged?

There are some things you can never expunge, including most convictions. You can usually expunge arrests that never resulted in charges, though, as well as sentences for supervision and qualified probation (as long as the required waiting period has passed).

Many records that don’t qualify for expungement still qualify for sealing. For example, you can often seal:

  • Felony traffic offenses that were reduced to an eligible misdemeanor
  • Convictions of most misdemeanors
  • Convictions of most felonies
  • Arrests and charges for misdemeanors or felonies that never led to a conviction

Sex crimes and violent crimes usually have to stay on your record. For example, if you were convicted of dog fighting, soliciting or patronizing a prostitute, or any other offense that requires you to register as a sex offender, those cases are most likely not eligible for expungement or sealing. However, other offenses on your record could still be eligible.

Related: Get your complete guide to expungement and sealing here

Do I Have to Hire a Lawyer to Expunge My Record So Cops Can’t See It?

You don’t have to hire a lawyer to expunge your record. Some people choose to because they don’t want to fill out and file the paperwork, but it’s not necessary. In fact, we’ve put together a complete resource for people who want to expunge or seal their own criminal records – and you can use it to get:

  • Step-by-step instructions on filling out expungement or sealing forms for any county in Illinois
  • The right forms for your jurisdiction
  • Access to an attorney if you have questions about any step in the process
  • Access to a community forum where you’ll get real answers from lawyers when you need them

You can get more information and sign up here.