Can I Erase my Criminal Record?
In a perfect world, the push of just one button would allow us to erase our past mistakes. Unfortunately that is not the case in the world we live in. However, if your criminal record is affecting your ability to rent a home or land a job, you can turn to expungement or sealing your criminal record. While not erasing your past, these two acts can make life much easier. Expungement legally refers to the process of having your records be destroyed or returned. Essentially, once an arrest or supervision has been expunged, it does not have to be shared with potential employers or landlords. Not all crimes qualify for expungement, however, and the individual must petition the court in order for an expungement to be granted. Expunged records are destroyed or returned to the petitioner. Agencies will destroy their records and remove all mention of your name from the public record. “Sealing” your record involves a court procedure that (hopefully) results in the sealing of any past court and police records. Records are put “under seal” and are no longer accessible to employers or the general public. Only law enforcement officials are able to view the records. The steps for getting your record sealed are essentially the same as those for expungement. Getting your record sealed or expunged does not happen overnight. Once you have filed your petition, the State has 60 days to object. The length of time the case will take will also depend on the size of the jurisdiction you are in. Sometimes, even though your petition is approved, it may take up to 60 days for law enforcement agencies to process the changes. It is important to recognize that the majority of felony convictions cannot be expunged from a record, but many are eligible to be sealed. If you are interested in filing a petition for the expungement or sealing of your records, be sure to contact an Illinois criminal attorney to answer any questions you may have and assist you with the process.