If you’re like many people, you’re not too sure about the differences between sealing and expunging a criminal record. In some states, only one of these options exists – and in others, the two mean totally different things than what they mean in Illinois.

So what is the difference between sealing and expunging a criminal record in Illinois? Here’s what you need to know.

What is the Difference Between Sealing and Expunging a Criminal Record in Illinois?

In the state of Illinois, expungement and sealing are two different ways to get your criminal records out of public view.

When your record is sealed, it means that it’s hidden from most people. Some people can still see it, such as law enforcement officers and court officials, as well as some employers (like those in the healthcare field and the military).

When your record is expunged, there’s nothing for anyone to see. That’s because the agencies that have your records on file must destroy them or return them to you. That means when someone performs a criminal background check on you, there aren’t any records to return. Not even law enforcement, court officials, prospective employers or landlords can see anything if your records are expunged.

What’s Better, Expungement or Sealing?

There’s no way to say what’s better between expungement and sealing. For some people, sealing a criminal record is good enough. However, others want the record completely gone.

The issue here is that your record will determine whether you’re eligible for expungement or sealing. In some cases, you are only eligible for sealing (such as when you have a conviction). You can’t expunge convictions (except in a few rare cases, such as when you’re an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces – and even then, it’s only for certain types of convictions).

Are You Thinking About Expunging or Sealing Your Criminal Record?

DIY criminal record sealing, or do-it-yourself criminal record sealing, is a process that you do yourself rather than hiring an attorney to do it for you. You can do your own criminal record sealing petition without paying a lawyer. In fact, we have a full suite of tools you can use to seal your criminal record on your own so that you don’t have to pay an attorney.

In our DIY sealing service, you’ll get:

  • Instant access to all the forms you need to seal your record ANYWHERE in Illinois
  • Step-by-step instructions on how to fill out and file your forms (in video and text formats)
  • Directions on where to file your forms for your jurisdiction
  • Exclusive access to a messaging system you can use to contact an attorney for free while you’re working through your own sealing case


Seal your own criminal record in Illinois now!