A clean criminal history is vital to securing employment, gaining admission to certain schools, and even qualifying for a personal loan or mortgage. Many professional licensing entities will refuse admission to any candidate with a felony or misdemeanor conviction. Fortunately, under certain circumstances, minor brushes with the law may be sealed, or expunged, from public view as if the arrest and charge never occurred. If you have a criminal record, an expungement attorney can help you through the process and get you on your way to obtaining that job, professional license, or loan.

How does the expungement process work?

Most general information pertaining to the Illinois expungement process can be found at 20 ILCS 2630/5.2 which is the statute governing expungements and sealings.  Although there are some exceptions, if you were not convicted of the offense that you are seeking to expunge then you are likely eligible for relief.  Illinois does not consider you to have been convicted if the case resulted in: (1) an acquittal or dismissal; or (2) successful completion of supervision or qualified probation.  When a case is dismissed an expungement petition can generally be filed immediately but some counties may require a 160 waiting period if the disposition was by way of “SOL” which is stricken with leave to reinstate.  If the charge resulted in a disposition of supervision then a 2-year waiting period is required from the date the supervision terminates before an expungement petition may be considered.  For a select few offenses the waiting period is five years from the date the supervision terminates.  For qualified probation the waiting period is generally 5 years from the date the sentence terminates.  Convictions are not eligible for expungement.

If you are seeking to clean your record but you are not eligible for expungement then you may be eligible for sealing.  Up until August 24, 2017 sealing was for the most part a form of relief available for misdemeanor convictions.  However, on August 24, 2017 house bill 2373 became effective.  Governor Bruce Rauner signed groundbreaking legislation that now permits thousands of Illinois residents to have felony convictions sealed.  Prior to signing the bill most individuals seeking to clear a felony conviction from their record were required to file for executive clemency.  The new legislation does not permit all convictions to be sealed.  However, as the law stands today most criminal convictions are eligible.  Petitions to seal may be filed 3 years after the applicant’s sentence has terminated and in some limited circumstances, a petition may be filed earlier.

If any of the above conditions apply to your situation, an attorney with experience handling the expungement and sealing process can guide you through the paperwork and submissions necessary to successfully expunge or seal your arrest records from public view. In most cases, a petition must be filed in the district or trial court within the jurisdiction of your arrest. This petition should include your case number, arrest date, the identity of the law enforcement agency having effectuated your arrest, and the date your case was finally disposed of.

Executive Clemency

If you were convicted of a crime not sealable under state law, it may be possible to petition the Prison Review Board to obtain a pardon of the crime; your attorney can help you through the complex pardon process. You may also be eligible to receive a conditional pardon, which allows you to receive a full pardon upon completion of several provisions. Receipt of a pardon is at the complete discretion of the Board and Governor and is decided based on a number of factors including the circumstances surrounding the crime, the behavior and rehabilitation of the offender, and the reason the pardon is needed.