EXPUNGMENT: A record expungment is when the criminal record is destroyed. If the Court grants an expungment of a record, the State Attorney’s file, the arresting agency’s reports and files, the Clerk of Court’s records, and the jail records are all destroyed. Under an expungment, a petitioner’s photograph is removed from the county jail’s website and all information is removed from the Clerk of Court’s website.
A person is eligible to apply for an expungement ONLY in the following circumstances:
- Applicant was arrested but never formally charged by the State Attorney’s Office.
- Applicant was arrested and formally charged, but the charge was later dismissed or “nolle prossed” (dropped) in Court.
- Applicant was arrested, charged, but entered into and successfully completed a pre-trial diversion program (i.e. PTI or MIP), which ultimately resulted in the case being dismissed by the Court.
In all of the above three scenarios, the applicant must have no prior Adjudications of Guilt.
SEAL: A record which is Sealed by the Court is not destroyed but placed in an envelope and sealed. The envelope cannot be legally opened without a Court order. If a record is sealed, a petitioner’s photograph is removed from the county jail’s website. The Clerk of Court’s file is also sealed and all information about the case is removed from the Clerk of Court’s website.
A person is eligible to apply for a sealing ONLY in the following circumstances:
- Petitioner was arrested, formally charged, pled guilty or no contest to the charge and was sentenced to a WITHHOLD OF ADJUDICATION OF GUILT by the Court.
- If the Petitioner receives a Withhold of Adjudication and is sentenced to probation by the Court – and successfully completes the probation, the petitioner may seek to have that record SEALED.
- However, there are certain offenses that are never allowed to be sealed, even if the applicant received a withhold of adjudication. Some of these offenses include sexual offenses, offenses against children, or other violent offenses.