Difference between getting a record expunged and sealed.
1. Expungement: when a record gets expunged it is as if the crime never occurred. Each law enforcement agency expunges, or destroys, their records.
2. Sealed: when a record gets sealed, the file remains intact. It is labeled as sealed and can only be released to other law enforcement agencies. Employers will not have access to the records.
Criminal and Traffic Laws to Clear Your Record
Beginning January 1, 2004, Illinois law was amended to permit people with qualifying arrests, felonies, misdemeanor supervisions and misdemeanor convictions to ask the court to either expunge or seal the records related to their cases. The law is designed to let people clear their records with or without an attorney. On this page and the associated links, the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County provides helpful information to assist customers in clearing their records.
Criminal and Traffic Expungement Guidelines and Forms
Under specific circumstances, Illinois law allows felony, misdemeanor, or municipal ordinance violation records in Criminal and Traffic cases to be expunged or sealed. If you qualify, your records will either be expunged or expunged and sealed by law enforcement agencies, and will be sealed by the Clerk's Office. "Expunged" records are destroyed. "Sealed" records are closed and restricted from public access, but are not destroyed. For more information on your eligibility and the process, including the necessary forms, please click here. If you are not eligible for expungement of your records, please check to see if you are eligible for sealing of your records under the "New Criminal and Traffic Sealing Guidelines and Forms".
New Criminal and Traffic Sealing Guidelines and Forms
Beginning January 1, 2004, Illinois law permits a person to have his or her records in certain misdemeanor or municipal ordinance violations in Criminal and Traffic cases to be sealed. Sealed records are closed and restricted from public access, but are not destroyed. For more information on your eligibility and the process, including the necessary forms, click on the contact link.
New Identity Theft/Factual Innocence Guidelines and Forms
Beginning January 1, 2004, if someone has falsely identified himself or herself using your identity during his/her arrest or conviction, Illinois law allows for you to clear your name from these records. For more information on this process, including the necessary forms, click on the contact link.
For additional information on expungement, sealing, and identity theft, please visit the "Expungement" page of Illinois' State Appellate Defender's website.
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