The Expungement Center is dedicated to helping Americans everywhere understand their rights about their public records. We publish helpful information about record sealing and record expungement for states where it is available.

It is a fact of life that people make mistakes. In the eyes of the law, some things are considered crimes. After a trial, a person is left with a criminal history, which could very well stay with them for as long as they live. People with criminal records are required to disclose this information in certain situations, like when they are applying for jobs, or credit.

Sometimes, a criminal history can have a negative effect on these things. In a lot of instances, a person may be denied employment, or the credit they are seeking. Most employers or creditors will not care about the circumstances of the conviction This may seem unfair, but these businesses are only trying to protect themselves. They cannot afford to compromise the safety of assets and employees by hiring people who may or may not commit more crimes.

Expungement vs Sealing

A lot of people go into a law office, and they want the proof of their crimes erased. The law just does not work like that. But there are steps a person can take to have their criminal history removed from places where prospective employers and creditors can see them. This is not done for everyone, and cannot be done for every type of criminal conviction. But in some cases these steps can help a person make a new start in life, so they should be taken when they apply to the case at hand.

One of the options a person can pursue is to have their criminal history closed off by a court. This action prevents people from seeing that history in most cases. A criminal history can be opened back up under special circumstances, but these usually involve commission of another crime, or knowledge of one. When a criminal record is closed off by a court, only another court ruling can open it back up. This can only be done by law enforcement officials with proper warrants.

Another option a person can look into is to have their criminal history totally expunged. When a record is expunged, it is erased or destroyed, and can never be restored to its original state. For lack of a better way to say it, when a criminal history is removed, it legally looks like the crime never took place. This can be most beneficial to people who are charged with a crime and then later found not guilty. And this is the main difference of expungement vs sealing.

Difference Between Expunge And Seal

One fact that a lot of people are not aware of is when someone is charged with a crime that charge is entered into their permanent record. Even if a person is later found innocent of all charges, the charges themselves will stay on record. Having a criminal history expunged vs sealed is the only way to guarantee that criminal charges are permanently removed.

It should be noted that not all criminal charges can be expunged or closed off by a court. It should also be noted that the letter of the law can vary from state to state.

There are some types of criminal charge that can’t be erased or closed off by a court. These charges include crimes involving sexual abuse, violent crimes that result in murder, and cases where there was serious property damage or personal injury, like a felony arson charge. This is another place where the laws differ slightly from region to region.

So there are indeed some significant differences between having a criminal history sealed or erased. One wipes the slate clean, the other does not. If a criminal history is sealed, it can still be accessed under special circumstances. If that same record is erased it can never be accessed again. This is important when it comes to cases that may have to be reopened. If a person has had their history removed, they can never be charged in connection to that crime again. In the case of a closed record, the person may be charged again if new evidence is ever brought to light.

If given a choice, people would most likely choose to have a criminal history erased as opposed to having it sealed. But as we already know, this option is not always available. Some states will only seal a person’s criminal history, they do not actually erase it. There are also differences in which crimes can be erased that vary from state to state.

How To Get Record Expunged

There are ways to find out in advance how the court will react to a person’s request to have their criminal history sealed or expunged. The best choice is to consult with a good attorney, and find out what options are available to you. Another thing a person can do is research their options on the Internet, or at their local law library.

It is essential that a person realize their options when it comes to their criminal charges. Not everyone is aware that criminal charges become part of a permanent record that goes everywhere they do. Whether a person is found guilty or cleared of all charges, the fact that there were charges filed remains on record, which is why having a criminal history expunged or sealed becomes important. You can check your records with a free criminal background check and see for yourself.

Many people are surprised when they find out who has access to their criminal history. This information is not only available to banks and prospective employers. This information can also be accessed when a person wants to buy a firearm, or hunting license. It can also be used against a person that is applying for educational assistance or loans.

People who are applying to adopt a child may also find that their criminal history has been used to decide against them. The same thing goes when a person is applying for any kind of federal disaster relief. A person with a criminal history can also be denied credit, and turned down for health or life insurance. Charitable agencies that use volunteers are also allowed to look at this information, and they may choose to not allow a person to volunteer.

It may seem unfair when a person finds that their criminal history has been used against them in a negative manner. It really isn’t though. In most cases, it is done to protect a business or individual from future liability. Or to say the same thing another way, no one will hire someone if they think that person is going to commit a crime. So if you are one of those people who is trying to move past life’s mistakes, you may want to consider finding out whether or not you can have your records expunged or permanently sealed.