Can My Criminal Record Be Expunged or Sealed in Illinois?
Sometimes, a person can make a mistake, but it does not have to impact the rest of his or her life. In Illinois, there may be some arrests, convictions, offenses, or charges on someone's criminal record that may be eligible for expungement or sealing. By removing eligible reports from his or her police record, he or she may find it easier to obtain employment, housing, or higher education. The process of having a criminal record erased or hidden may take some time, but it can be worth it in the long run. If you have been charged or convicted of a crime, having an experienced expungement lawyer on your side is an important first step.
Expunged Versus Sealed
The first step in cleaning up your criminal record is to understand the difference between having a recorded criminal event expunged or having it sealed. Expungement means that the crime is erased completely from your record as if it never occurred. A sealed offense is one that is still on your record, but it is hidden so no one can see it on a criminal background check. However, law enforcement and other criminal justice personnel will still have access to the details of that offense.
Criminal Records That Can Be Expunged
Criminal records that can be expunged include crimes for which you were not convicted and some crimes for which you have already served the sentence and/or the appropriate waiting period. However, crimes such as sexual offenses toward a minor, for example, are not eligible for expungement. In some cases, expungement is available if you have served a sentence of court supervision, but in other cases, you may need to obtain a pardon from the governor of Illinois before a record can be expunged. Once the governor has approved your request for a pardon, you will then need a Certificate of Eligibility for Expungement. If you were honorably discharged from the military, you may have an easier time obtaining a pardon.
Criminal Records That Can Be Sealed
If you were charged with a crime but not convicted of it, criminal records related to your arrest and charges can be sealed at any time. If you are hoping to have a traffic offense or misdemeanor public indecency conviction sealed, you need to follow the proper legal steps to do so.
Any offenses that violate the Humane Care for Animals Act, including dogfighting, or which require you to register as a sex offender, are not eligible to be sealed. If you violate an order of protection or a civil or stalking no-contact order, the offense will most likely not be eligible to be sealed either. For a full list of criminal offenses that cannot be sealed, the State of Illinois Prisoner Review Board offers more information.
One thing to note about sealed felonies is that if you are convicted of a subsequent felony, the newest one cannot be sealed. In some circumstances, the previous felony may even be unsealed.
Important Information to Gather
Before you decide to fill out any paperwork to expunge or seal your criminal record, you should gather all the pertinent information needed to continue the process. This includes information on the records you are seeking to have expunged or sealed, such as:
When and where the arrest took place
The charge against you and the crime for which you were ultimately convicted
The sentence you were given, as well as when and where it was carried out
When you completed your sentence
Contact an Illinois Expungement Lawyer
If you committed a crime in Illinois, it is possible to remove it from your record, depending on the circumstances. Whether you wish to seal a felony traffic violation that had been reduced to a misdemeanor, or you are requesting a pardon from the Illinois governor for a more severe crime, an experienced St. Charles criminal defense attorney can help guide you through the expungement process. The Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC has a great deal of experience in helping clients get their criminal records expunged or sealed. We can aid you in furthering your career or education and help you move on with your life. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 630-232-1780.