Expungement in Illinois

criminal expungementA criminal record can make it extremely difficult to procure a job in this economy. A criminal record might even disqualify you for applying for many jobs. Additionally, a criminal record can impact other areas of your personal life by providing you with a certain type of reputation among friends, family, and acquaintances. Furthermore, academic success might be impeded by a criminal record.

Fortunately, however, in some cases, an individual convicted of a crime may be able to pursue an expungement. It is important to understand expungement of a criminal record and how it may apply to your situation. In Illinois, you may alternatively be able to have your criminal record sealed in order to clear your record and get your life back on track.

Expunging vs. Sealing

Expungement is an entirely different tool than sealing. In Illinois, it may be possible to have your record expunged if you have never been convicted of a crime or violation of a municipal ordinance. Once a record is expunged, it will either be physically destroyed or returned to you for you to do with as you please. If your record is expunged, your name will be removed from all public records and, as such, will not be viewed by anyone.

If you have been convicted of a crime, however, you may be eligible to have your records sealed instead. A sealed record will not be destroyed, although the public will not be able to see it. The main difference here is that law enforcement agencies will be able to view your record. Learn more about the expungement process at the Illinois State Appellate Defender website.

If You Have Not Been Convicted of a Crime...

Many individuals may wonder why someone who has never been convicted of a crime would be concerned with a record. In reality, even if an individual is not convicted of the crime, the arrest record and charges would appear on his or her criminal record. Expungement can eliminate all traces of this.

What Qualifies for Sealing?

Not all crimes can be sealed. In fact, only specific misdemeanor convictions qualify for sealing. Certain misdemeanors such as assault, battery, sex offenses, and driving under the influence cannot be sealed from the public. Sealing is also, in general, not available for most felony convictions. There are some exceptions for certain drug or prostitution offenses, however.

If your record cannot be sealed due to lack of qualification, the only way to have it cleared is to obtain a pardon. A pardon must be received by the governor (for state crimes) and it must specifically authorize the record to be expunged. Pardons are rarely given, although should not be ruled out.

What Should You Do?

If you have a criminal record that is affecting your personal, academic, or professional life, contact our office immediately to find out how we might be able to help you. An experienced Naperville criminal defense attorney can help guide you through the process.