If you have been arrested, charged, or convicted of a crime you have a criminal record! Expunging or sealing your criminal record is a legal remedy; your petition to expunge or seal must be filed in court. There is no automatic expungement or sealing of criminal records.
What’s the difference between expungement and sealing? Expungement means the arresting agency and/or Illinois State Police physically destroys your criminal record or returns your record to you. Sealing a record makes it unavailable without a court order, but the record is physically and electronically maintained. As long as you have no criminal conviction on your record, your record may be eligible for expungement. If you have just one criminal conviction, your record is not eligible for expungement, but it might be eligible for sealing (stay tuned for Part 2 of this series).
When considering whether to file a petition to expunge or seal your criminal record, first check the disposition of your case. This means you must determine whether you were given probation or conditional discharge, required to pay a fine, whether the judge considered time served (days you spent in jail) or sentenced you to jail (or the Illinois Department of Corrections), whether a judge or jury found you guilty, or whether you were given a disposition of not guilty.
IMPORTANT! If you were given court supervision or qualified probation, it was successfully completed, and you have no other criminal convictions, your record may be expungeable. If you did not successfully complete your court supervision or qualifying probation, you have a conviction unless the unsatisfactory termination is reversed, vacated, or modified.
You can petition for expungement of your criminal record immediately if you were never convicted of a crime, you were released without being charged, you were acquitted, and/or your case was dismissed. (Two Exceptions for SOL or non-suit)
If you were given court supervision, you must wait 2 years from the successful completion of the supervision before you can file to expunge your record.
If you were given qualified probation, you must wait 5 years from the successful completion of the probation before you can file to expunge your record.
BEWARE: Sentences of supervision for the following offenses cannot be expunged: Driving Under the Influence, Reckless Driving, Sex Offenses Against Minors.
1. If you have ever been arrested you have a criminal record!
2. If you have even one criminal conviction, you cannot expunge your record.
3. If your record is not eligible for expungement, it may be eligible for sealing.
4. Expunging or sealing your record not automatic!
Expunging or sealing a criminal record can be a complicated process, so be sure to contact an attorney who understands the requirements and nuances involved in the procedure. The Law Offices of Laura J. Morask seeks to educate the community on the basics of criminal law, so please feel free to call our offices to discuss the possibility of expunging or sealing your criminal record.