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When Can I Expunge or Seal My Criminal Record in Illinois?

 Posted on January 23, 2024 in Uncategorized

Grundy County DUI LawyerIf you have been arrested, charged with a crime, or convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense, you may have a criminal record that can cause a great deal of difficulty in your life. Arrests, convictions, or other related information may show up in criminal background checks, affecting your ability to obtain a job or secure housing. Other areas of your life may also be affected, such as your ability to receive government benefits or pursue education. If you are dealing with records related to previous brushes with the law, you may be wondering if there is any way to clear your name and start fresh. 

Fortunately, the state of Illinois offers options to seal or expunge criminal records in certain cases. Doing so can provide many benefits, including improved job prospects, housing opportunities, and peace of mind. An experienced attorney can help you determine your options for addressing your criminal record and receiving the fresh start you deserve.

What Is Expungement?

Expungement is a legal process that erases a person’s criminal record completely. Following the expungement of a criminal record, it is as if the arrest and conviction never occurred. Information related to the offense will no longer appear on background checks conducted by employers, landlords, or other entities.

What Crimes Are Eligible for Expungement?

In Illinois, not all crimes are eligible for expungement. Generally speaking, expungement will be available in situations where a person was not convicted because charges were dropped or they were acquitted at trial, and it will remove information related to their arrest and charges from their criminal record. There are a few types of convictions that may be expunged, including in cases where a person received a sentence of court supervision for offenses such as domestic battery or reckless driving. Low-level drug crimes may also be expunged after a person completes a term of qualified probation. A person may also expunge their record if they have been pardoned by the Governor of Illinois.

When Can I Apply for Expungement?

The timing of when you can request an expungement may vary depending on the circumstances of your case:

  • No Conviction: If you were arrested but not convicted of a crime, expungement will usually be immediately available.

  • Court supervision: In most cases, you can apply for expungement two years after completing a sentence of court supervision. However, you must wait five years following the completion of court supervision following a conviction of domestic battery, criminal sexual abuse, operating an uninsured vehicle, or driving after your license has been suspended for non-insurance. 

  • Qualified probation: If you were sentenced to probation after being convicted of a drug offense, you will be eligible for expungement five years after the successful completion of probation.

What Is Record Sealing?

If you do not qualify for expungement, record sealing may still be an option for clearing your criminal record to some extent. When a record is sealed, it means that access to it is limited, and details about your case will only be available to certain parties under specific circumstances. Unlike expungement, which erases the record completely, sealed records still exist, but they are hidden from public view. Law enforcement agencies and government authorities may still have access to sealed records in certain situations.

What Crimes Are Eligible for Record Sealing?

In many cases, you will be able to seal convictions for misdemeanor or felony offenses. Records related to arrests can also be sealed if they did not result in a conviction. Offenses that cannot be sealed include DUI, reckless driving offenses that occurred after you reached the age of 25, violation of a domestic violence order of protection or civil no-contact order, domestic battery convictions resulting in a sentence other than court supervision, most sex crimes, offenses involving harm to animals, and minor traffic offenses.

When Can I Apply for Record Sealing?

You can immediately apply to seal your arrest records if no charges were filed against you or if charges were dropped or dismissed. Successful completion of Second Chance probation will also allow for immediate sealing. For most misdemeanor or felony convictions that are eligible, you can apply to have these records sealed three years after the completion of your sentence.

Contact Our Will County, IL Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have questions about whether you qualify for expungement or record sealing under Illinois law, a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer can help you understand your options. At Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C., our skilled Joliet expungement attorney has experience helping people like you navigate through this complex area of the law. Contact us today at 815-740-4025 for a free consultation. Do not let past mistakes hold you back – take action now to clear your criminal record.

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