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Expungement Vs Sealing Criminal Records

If you're living with a felony or misdemeanor conviction, or are being followed around by a charge that was dismissed or even where you were found not guilty, you are probably wondering if you have any recourse. The answer is probably yes. In a case where you were not found to have committed any criminal wrongdoing, or even in cases where you were convicted of a first offense in certain situations, you may be able to clear your record. There are two main ways of clearing a criminal record: sealing criminal records and expungement of criminal records.

What Does it Mean to Seal a Criminal Record?

When your record is sealed, it means it cannot be accessed by normal means. Those considering you for employment or who you are petitioning for a loan cannot look into these records during a background check. Furthermore, you can generally legally deny that the events on your record never existed. The record itself exists and it may be possible for some entities to find this out, but only a court order to unseal the records for the public interest can make those records accessible to anyone ever again.

What Is Expungement?

When your record is expunged, it is as if the offense never happened. Your record is removed or destroyed, and it not available for anyone to access, even by court order. As with a sealed record, you can legally deny the existence of that the events that were on the record. For example, if you have a job application that asks if you were ever convicted of a criminal offense, you can legally answer "no."

Expungement vs. Sealing Criminal Records: What's the Difference?

An expungement is a more extreme form of clearing your record. An expungement literally wipes the slate clean, with no evidence that you were ever convicted of any criminal offense. A sealed record serves much the same purpose, but the record still exists; it's just that no one can access it through conventional means.

Expungement vs. Sealing Criminal Records: Which Should You Pursue?

In general, all things being equal, expungement is preferable to sealing a record because there is no chance of the record ever resurfacing. However, you will usually not have a choice in this matter. Some offenses can only be sealed and not expunged. Furthermore, some states only seal records and do not offer expungement. You will have to follow the laws of your state to determine whether your record can be sealed or expunged.

Fortunately, you don't have to figure this out for yourself. is a site specifically devoted to helping you figure out if you can clear your criminal record through sealing or expunction. Finding out is easy. Just go to, set up an account and provide the necessary information in the free eligibility check. This will tell you if you qualify to have your record sealed or expunged. If you can, can provide not only all the forms you will need, but the specific instructions for how to correctly fill out these forms and apply for a sealed or expunged record. You'll also be told where to send these forms. cannot guaranteed that your record will be sealed or expunged, and you may have to appear in court to defend your case, but they can provide you with all the tools you need to give you the best possible chance to clean up your record without hiring an expensive lawyer or worrying about confusing the application process.

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