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IL defense lawyerGoing through the criminal process can be a life-changing experience. Not only do you face penalties for whatever conviction you received, but you also face lasting effects when you begin to reintroduce yourself into society. Many people who have been convicted of a crime have difficulty finding employment or even a place to live. Fortunately, Illinois allows certain offenses to be sealed or expunged from a person’s record under certain circumstances, preventing the general public from viewing these documents. There are differences to the expungement and sealing process, so you should be aware of those before you decide which process to proceed with.

Record Expungement

For your criminal record to be eligible for expungement, there are certain requirements that it must meet. In Illinois, arrests for any felony or misdemeanor charge can be expunged if those arrests did not lead to a conviction. If you were convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, that record can only be expunged if your conviction was reversed or vacated, or you were pardoned by the governor of the state. You may also be able to have sentences of court supervision expunged from your record, as long as it has been at least two years since the completion of the sentence. If the sentence of court supervision was imposed for domestic battery, criminal sexual abuse, operating an uninsured vehicle, operating a vehicle with a revoked registration, or displaying a false insurance card, it must be at least five years after the sentence is completed to expunge the record.

Sealing Your Record

If your record is not eligible for expungement, it may be eligible to be sealed, which can still help. Arrests for misdemeanor and felony convictions can be sealed at any time. Most convictions for most felonies and misdemeanor crimes are eligible to be sealed if at least three years have passed since the sentence was completed. It is important to note that not all convictions can be sealed. For example, you cannot seal a conviction for DUI, reckless driving, domestic battery, violating an order of protection, or any sexual offense.

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Rolling Meadows, IL expungement attorney

Beginning in early 2020, the state of Illinois legalized the sale, purchase, and use of recreational marijuana, effectively decriminalizing the substance in most situations. The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (CRTA) made it legal for most adults over the age of 21 to consume, sell, or purchase cannabis. The Act also contained important legislation detailing the process and timeframe for expungement, sealing, or pardoning of eligible marijuana-related criminal records. Now more than one year later, nearly 500,000 non-felony marijuana-related arrest records have been expunged. Expungement of your prior cannabis-related arrest records can have a very positive effect on your life. 

Expungements and Pardons

In Illinois, there is usually a pretty strict process with fairly tough requirements when it comes to getting a criminal record expunged or pardoned by the governor. However, with the passing of the CRTA, hundreds of thousands of criminal records became eligible for expungement or pardoning across the state.

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Rolling Meadows, IL expungement attorney

Each and every time you come into contact with the criminal justice system, that interaction is noted and saved on your criminal record. This is true even if you are not convicted of the crime. If your criminal offense did not result in a conviction, your record will still exist and will still be following you around; however, you may be able to have your records expunged or erased. There are many situations and possibilities in which a case may end without a conviction, such as cases in which you were only arrested but were never charged or charges were eventually dropped. If you have a criminal record that you would like to conceal, you should speak with an Illinois criminal record expungement lawyer.

Does My Offense Qualify?

Not all criminal records are able to be expunged in Illinois. One of the first steps you need to take is to determine if your specific offense and sentence qualify to be expunged. Entries on your criminal record that will typically qualify for expungement include:

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Arlington Heights criminal defense attorney expungement

If you have been convicted of a crime in Illinois, your life can change in many ways. Even if your offense was a non-violent or minor act, you will still have a criminal record that will appear on background checks. This can make it difficult to secure housing or even obtain employment. Unfortunately, an arrest or a criminal charge can also create a criminal record, even if you were not convicted or charges were not pursued. Because of this, the state of Illinois has created the process of expungement to have your criminal record cleared, essentially giving you a fresh start in the eyes of the law. Another option is sealing a record, which hides it from certain people, although it still exists. Read on to learn more about the difference between these two legal actions. 

Options For Clearing Your Record

In Illinois, there are two ways you can clear your record -- expungement or sealing. The process that you go through typically depends on the type of record you are trying to clear and its eligibility. Certain offenses and dispositions are not eligible for expungement but are eligible for sealing. The process of pursuing an expungement or sealing your criminal records is nearly identical, although the outcome is different.

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Rolling Meadows, IL expungement lawyer

Having a criminal record can make impact your life negatively in many ways. It can be much more difficult to rent a house or apartment, pass a background check for potential employment, or even obtain a loan or mortgage. You do not even have to be convicted of a crime to have a criminal record; if you have ever been arrested or charged with a crime, you have a criminal record. These records are public, meaning anyone who wants to see your record can, including friends and family. Fortunately, you have options when it comes to clearing your criminal record in Illinois.

Expungement Versus Sealing

There are two main ways you can clear your criminal record in Illinois: through expungement or sealing. Although both methods are similar to each other, they do not produce the same exact result. Expungement results in your criminal records either being returned to you or being destroyed. This makes it as if you never had a criminal record at all and does not allow the police, government, or the public to view these records. If you seal your record, they are hidden from the public, but they are not erased. This means your records will still be visible to the government and to law enforcement.

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