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Legal Options for Clearing Your Criminal Record in Illinois

 Posted on April 22, 2024 in Uncategorized

Grundy County, IL criminal defense lawyerHaving a criminal record can create significant barriers to employment, housing, and other opportunities. Fortunately, Illinois law provides certain options for individuals seeking to clear their records and move forward with their lives. An Illinois lawyer can help you discover which options may be available to clean up your criminal history.


Expungement refers to the legal process of erasing a criminal record, effectively treating it as though it never existed. In Illinois, specific types of records are eligible for expungement, including:

  • An arrest that did not result in a conviction

  • Court supervision successfully completed for certain offenses

  • Convictions for certain offenses committed as a juvenile

To qualify for expungement, you must meet specific requirements and file a petition. If granted, all records of your arrest, court supervision, or juvenile conviction will be destroyed, and you can legally state that you have never been convicted of a crime.


If your record is not eligible for expungement, you may still have the option to seal it. Sealing a record means it is hidden from public view but can still be accessed by law enforcement and certain employers. In Illinois, most misdemeanors and some felonies are eligible for sealing, including:

  • Convictions for non-violent offenses

  • Convictions for drug possession

  • Convictions for prostitution

To seal your record, you must wait a specified period after completing your sentence (usually three years) and file a petition with the court. If your petition is granted, your record will be sealed from public view, giving you a better chance at securing employment and housing.

Certificates of Relief from Disabilities and Good Conduct

For individuals with felony convictions, Illinois offers two types of certificates that can help improve their chances of finding employment and housing:

  • Certificate of Relief from Disabilities: This certificate can be granted to individuals with certain felony convictions who have demonstrated rehabilitation. It removes barriers to obtaining professional licenses and certifications.

  • Certificate of Good Conduct: This certificate is available to individuals with multiple felony convictions who have shown evidence of rehabilitation. It removes certain statutory barriers to employment and can help demonstrate rehabilitation to potential employers.

To obtain either certificate, you must file a petition with the court and demonstrate that you have been rehabilitated and are not a risk to public safety.

Governor’s Pardon

A governor’s pardon is the ultimate relief for those with criminal records in Illinois. A pardon is an act of forgiveness from the governor that can remove the conviction from your record entirely. Pardons are rarely granted and are typically reserved for individuals who have demonstrated exceptional rehabilitation and have compelling reasons for seeking a pardon. To apply for a pardon, you must submit a petition to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, which will review your case and make a recommendation to the governor.

Contact a Grundy County, IL Criminal Defense Lawyer

Clearing your criminal record can open up new opportunities and help you move forward with your life. Whether you are seeking expungement, sealing, a certificate of relief, or a governor’s pardon, it is helpful to understand your options and work with a Will County, IL criminal defense attorney who can guide you through the process. By taking advantage of these legal options, you can potentially put your past behind you and focus on building a brighter future. Call The Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C. at 815-740-4025 for a free consultation.

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