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When Can a Criminal Record Be Expunged or Sealed in Illinois?

 Posted on March 17, 2023 in Criminal Defense

dupage county expungement lawyerA criminal record can have a significant impact on your life, limiting your opportunities and casting a shadow on your past. Fortunately, in Illinois, certain individuals may have the opportunity to expunge or seal their criminal records, providing them with a fresh start and possibilities for a brighter future. By understanding the processes, requirements, and legal aspects of expungement and sealing of criminal records in Illinois, you can take steps to clear your record and move forward with your life.

Understanding the Difference Between Expungement and Sealing

Expungement and sealing are two distinct legal options that can offer relief to those with criminal records. Expungement is the process of completely erasing a criminal record as if it never existed. This means that the record will be physically destroyed, and any electronic records will be deleted. On the other hand, a criminal record that is sealed will be confidential and will not be available to the general public. However, it may still be accessed by law enforcement, the court system, and certain licensing agencies or employers. Though it will not be entirely erased, having a criminal record sealed can still provide considerable benefits in terms of future opportunities.

Eligibility for Expungement

Not all criminal records are eligible for expungement in Illinois. Generally, to qualify for expungement, you must not have any pending charges or active probation, parole, or supervision, and you must fulfill one of the following conditions:

  • The arrest did not result in a conviction, and no criminal charges are currently pending against you.

  • You were convicted, but the conviction was later reversed or vacated.

  • You were convicted but later received a pardon from the governor specifically authorizing expungement.

  • You received a sentence of qualified probation, and at least five years have passed since completing the period of probation.

  • You received a sentence of court supervision in a case involving charges of domestic battery, criminal sexual abuse in which the victim was over the age of 18, or operation of a vehicle that was uninsured, and at least five years have passed since the completion of the period of supervision.

  • You received a sentence of court supervision for an offense other than those listed above, and at least two years have passed since the completion of the period of supervision.

Certain offenses and situations are specifically excluded from expungement. These include most misdemeanor or felony convictions, DUI, reckless driving (if you were at least 25 years old at the time of the offense), sex offenses in which the victim was under the age of 18, and traffic violations.

Eligibility for Sealing

A broader range of criminal records may be eligible for sealing compared to expungement. Generally, most misdemeanor and felony convictions can be sealed, except for certain offenses such as DUI, reckless driving (if you were over the age of 25), domestic battery, violation of an order of protection, crimes that require you to register as a sex offender, animal offenses such as dog fighting, and minor traffic violations. If you had previously been convicted of a felony and had that conviction sealed, subsequent felony convictions will not be eligible for sealing, and sealed convictions may be unsealed. To be eligible for sealing, you must not have any pending criminal charges or be on active probation, parole, or court supervision.

Navigating the Process of Expungement or Sealing

The process of expunging or sealing records can be complex, and it requires careful attention to detail. To initiate proceedings, you must obtain your criminal records and review your eligibility. After confirming your eligibility, you must:

  • Prepare the necessary paperwork, including the Request to Expunge & Impound and/or Seal Criminal Records, the Notice of Filing, and a proposed Order to Expunge & Impound and/or Seal Criminal Records for the judge to sign.

  • File the expungement or sealing petition with the appropriate clerk's office and pay the required filing fees.

  • Attend any scheduled court hearings and present your case.

After your request to expunge or seal criminal records is approved by a judge, a certified copy of the expungement or sealing order will be sent to the law enforcement agencies that held the record. They will be required to destroy or seal the relevant records within 60 days, and you will receive a letter informing you that your records have been expunged or sealed.

Contact Our DuPage County Expungement Lawyer

Given the complexity of Illinois' expungement and sealing laws, as well as the potential pitfalls in the process, obtaining knowledgeable legal assistance is crucial. At Law Office of Philip R. Nathe, our experienced Naperville expungement and sealing attorney can help you navigate the intricacies of the law, ensure that you meet all eligibility requirements, and advocate for your interests. To learn more about how we can assist with this process, contact us at 630-416-7600 and set up a free consultation.


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