When a crime is committed by a person, the crime and the legal proceedings that come along with it are recorded and filed within the court system. These files are accessible to the public at any time. However, it is possible that such records be deleted or removed from public access, and therefore, public knowledge. The process of removing such records from public access is referred to as record sealing.
Record sealing is a procedure meant to remove from general and accessible review records pertaining to court cases. The records are not necessarily destroyed, but can only be reviewed under certain circumstances only. When legal documents are destroyed, it is no longer a process of record sealing but a process of expungement. In order to view such records that have been sealed, a person would need to obtain a court order, and a court order is only given when the person has demonstrated the need to view such records.
Once a person’s records have been sealed, it is possible for that person to state that he or she no longer has any criminal or court records. However, this applies only to certain jurisdictions and it is not universally acceptable. Thus, record sealing may actually have the same effect as expungement in some states or countries.
In order for a person to seal a record, all matters relating to the record must be resolved. Record sealing is not an instantaneous process, but involves a waiting period, especially if the person has served probation.