Expunging Your Illinois Criminal Record

expungementA criminal record can be the proverbial kiss of death for many aspirations and life options, and in Illinois, you will have a criminal record even if the charges against you are ultimately dropped. However, in certain situations, there is a way by which your record can be expunged. If you are able to do this, you may be able to avoid possible negative consequences in the future.


Expungement proceedings are available to those who have (1) never been convicted of a criminal offense; (2) have had a conviction reversed, vacated, or pardoned by the governor; or (3) had their conviction recommended for expungement by the Prisoner Review Board. If you believe you are able to have your record expunged, there are specific procedures that must be followed, and they usually differ by county. One of the most commonly known is the waiting period - depending on the fact pattern, a person must wait anywhere between two and five years before filing to expunge an offense.

The procedure to expunge your criminal record is fairly straightforward; one can simply complete a petition and file it with the relevant courthouse, receiving a disposition most often within six months. However, a common mistake made is that many assume they have been convicted, and are thus ineligible for expungement, when this may not be the case. There are many other categories of case disposition in Illinois, such as nolle prosequi (NP), court supervision, and a finding of no probable cause (FNPC), and all of these are eligible for expungement, because they are not convictions.

A Constantly Changing Statute

It is important to keep in mind that Illinois’ legislature is prone to modifying the expungement statute, most notably by changing the length of time one must wait before attempting to have a charge expunged from one’s record, but also by modifying those who are able to take advantage of it. For example, Gov. Rauner signed a modification in mid-2015 that would eliminate the waiting period for those who used their sentence time to obtain a degree or otherwise further their education.

It is also notable that expungement is not one’s only option. It may be possible to have your record sealed if expungement is not available. Expungement is only available for arrests, probation or supervision, not convictions (though with rare exceptions). However, sealing of criminal records may be done with anything on your record - the tradeoff is that law enforcement officials and certain employers are still able to see it. Still, the option is better than having no recourse at all.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Attorney

If you have any questions about the procedures or the viability of expunging your Illinois criminal record, it is always best to consult a legal professional. The dedicated Naperville criminal law attorneys at our law office can offer advice to you and help you decide what is the best path for you to take. Contact us today to set up an appointment.