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Understanding Criminal Record Expungement and Sealing Options in Illinois

Posted on in Expungement

expungement, sealing, Illinois Criminal Defense AttorneyIf you have ever been arrested and fingerprinted in Illinois or any other state, you have an arrest record. Until it is expunged or sealed, the record is viewable to the public. Many clients come to us seeking help with reviewing their criminal record history and determining their eligibility for expungement or sealing. Such action can help many clients pursue and obtain employment, housing, and other privileges.

Expungement and Sealing in Illinois

The expungement or sealing of your criminal record does not happen automatically. Someone must petition the court for an order that directs the clerk’s office and law enforcement to destroy or seal the criminal records in question. While the Criminal Identification Act governs the process, each county has its own procedures that must be strictly followed or the petition may be denied on a procedural issue.

It is important to understand that not all criminal records can be cleared. A criminal defense attorney must first determine eligibility. There is also a waiting period to be eligible to apply for sealing or expungement that can be as long as five years after probation has been completed. Most misdemeanors and some felonies are eligible for expungement or sealing but there are some scenarios that may not qualify as a matter of course. These generally include considerations that:

  • The case concluded with a conviction or adjudication of guilt;
  • There was prison or jail time served as a result of the charges; or
  • There was a previous sealing or expungement in Illinois or another state.

In general in Illinois, DUI, reckless driving and sexually based offenses are not eligible for expungement or sealing. Some misdemeanors and some felonies are not eligible for expungement but may be eligible for sealing, depending on the specific circumstances of the case.

Court Considerations

The judge reviewing your application for sealing or expungement will consider your entire criminal record in its entirety. In other words, the court will review your entire criminal record, not simply the case you wish to have expunged or sealed. Prior or subsequent convictions may invalidate your application for expungement or sealing. Some judges also consider the ways in which you have given back to society since you were arrested and charged.

An attorney can prepare the necessary documents, manage the court process, and present the argument for you in court as to why your criminal record should be expunged or sealed. The first step in the process is reviewing your case with a knowledgeable criminal attorney to determine if you may be eligible to pursue one of these options.

At the Law Offices of Scott F. Anderson, criminal defense attorney, Scott Anderson, has over 23 years of experience working in the Illinois criminal justice system. He has handled criminal cases both in the trial courts and on appeal.  He has represented clients for misdemeanor and felony crimes throughout Cook, Lake, DuPage and McHenry Counties. Please call 847-253-3400 to schedule a free initial consultation today.

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