If you have ever been arrested, charged, or convicted of a crime in Illinois, you may have wondered what options you have to clear your record. Illinois offers two distinct avenues – expungement and sealing – that may be available to you in these cases.
Expungement is a process through which entries on your criminal and arrest record are removed. Sealing a record does not remove the entries, but rather prevents the public from being able to view these things. Only individuals or agencies connected to law enforcement or with special permission will be able to view items on a sealed record.
Neither sealed nor expunged records are visible in a standard criminal background check. Employers are not permitted to ask job applicants if they have had records expunged or sealed.
Typically, records are only able to be expunged if they fall into a few categories:
- Arrests for misdemeanors or felonies that did not result in a conviction;
- Arrests for minor traffic violations that did not result in any charge;
- Convictions that were reversed or vacated;
- Charges that resulted in court supervision, only after a certain period of time has passed since you successfully completed supervision (2 years for most charges and 5 for some);
- Sentences resulting in qualified probation if five years have passed since the successful completion of probation; and
- Some other specific situations and allowances.
Other factors affect whether items on your record can be expunged, such as other felony convictions. If your record cannot be expunged, the following types of records may be sealed:
- Convictions for most misdemeanor and felony offenses. Notable exceptions are any convictions that require you to register on a state database such as the Arsonist or Violent Offender Against Youth registries;
- Some charges may be sealed prior to being expunged, such as charges resulting in qualified probation, which may be eligible for sealing after 3 years and expungement after 5 years.
Minor traffic offenses cannot be expunged or sealed unless you were arrested and released without being charged. Civil cases, orders of protection, and other non-criminal matters are not eligible for expungement or sealing.
If you are interested in pursuing expungement or sealing for your criminal and arrest record, it is important to have an attorney on your side to assist with the process. Call our offices today at 618-692-6656 to schedule a consult and discuss your options.
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