The Benefits of Expungement vs. Record Sealing

A criminal history is a serious matter, and those who have entries in their public record often feel the effects many years after their sentencing has been completed. However, those who do often have recourse available through the expungement or record sealing process. Both of these processes have a similar goal: shield the petitioner’s prior criminal history from creditors, potential housing landlords, and even potential employers, who may look down upon those with a criminal past.

However, these two process are different, have different results, and different qualifications in order to obtain the desired outcome. Let’s take a closer look at each of them on this blog so you can get a better idea of which one is right for you.


Expungement is the process of essentially eliminating a criminal history by completely hiding it from public view, making it as though the crime never happened. When expungement is granted, the record for one or more offenses is destroyed, wiping it from the public record and sealing it so it can only be accessed in extremely rare circumstances. This means it’ll no longer appear on background checks, and you are legally allowed to deny having ever been arrested or charged with a crime.

Expungement is widely available, provided your charges are not for a violent felony like rape or murder. However, you can only be granted expungement once, which means you need to be careful once your record is expunged: you won’t be able to go through the process again.

Record Sealing

Record sealing is different from expungement in that you can’t necessarily seal a conviction, but you may seal any previous history of arrests you have. If you are arrested but not convicted, you may petition to have your arrest record sealed exactly one year from the date of the arrest itself. So long as the seal is granted, all court files, BMV records, background check records, and state police central repository records will be sealed, and your background check will once again show up clean.

These are also an available option for those who have had their case dismissed after a diversion agreement. Diversion agreements allow first-time offenders for minor crimes like shoplifting, marijuana possession, and underage drinking to have their case dismissed a year after their arrest, provided they adhered to the terms of the agreement (which may involve community service, education classes, and staying out of trouble).

In either instance it’s strongly advised that you seek help from a qualified Fort Wayne criminal defense attorney who can help you submit a strong petition and then stand up to defend you at your hearing.

Call Arnold Terrill, P.C. today at 888-912-7220 and request a case evaluation to get started with your expungement or record sealing issue!