An Expungement is the process of legally destroying, obliterating, or striking out records or information in files, computers, and other depositories relating to criminal charges. Illinois offers first-time offenders the opportunity to expunge or seal their criminal records for certain misdemeanor convictions. Felony convictions are not eligible for expungement or sealing with the exception of Class 4 felony drug possession and Class 4 felony prostitution (Criminal Identification Act- 20 ILCS 2630/5). Sealing records means to remove criminal records from public view. Only certain law enforcement agencies may have access to sealed records.
A pardon is granted by the Governor of Illinois. It frees an offender from further penalty and disabilities of a criminal conviction. A pardon also restores an individual’s civil rights. Felony convictions can only be expunged if a pardon was granted.