In Illinois, an criminal record may be removed, a process often referred to as an expungement, provided certain criteria are met. This process is not automatic, and requires a petition to the court. The judge will then evaluate the case and determine if the burden on the individual for having a criminal record outweighs the burden the public will have no longer knowing of the record. The most simple way a criminal record qualifies to be sealed is where the arrest did not result in a conviction.
What If the Arrest Resulted in a Conviction?
If the arrest did result in a conviction, whether it can be expunged will depend largely on the type of crime committed and the type of sentence the person received. Generally, the record may be expunged 2 years after the completion of court supervision. A the following may only be expunged after 5 years of the completion of court supervision:
- Domestic battery
- Uninsured motor vehicle
- Suspended registration
- False insurance
- Reckless driving
- Retail theft
- Possession of marijuana and other controlled substances.
How Does Expungement Occur?
As mentioned above, the process is not automatic. Someone who qualifies for expungment will have to file a petition with the court that sentenced them. Additionally, they must file a copy of the petition with the state attorney who prosecuted their case. Once a petition is granted, their attorney should forward copies of the order to all government and law enforcement agencies holding the record. The records will then be returned to the individual whose records were expunged.
It is also worth noting that expungement is not the same as destroying a record. An expunged record is simply not considered public and as such not accessibly by an private entity. However, law enforcement agencies and state attorneys will still have access to the record.
Are There Certain Instances Where Convictions Cannot Be Expunged?
Expungement does not apply to DUIs. Moreover, expungement only applies to first time offenders. This means if someone has a previous criminal conviction, and then receives another, they may not have their record expunged.
Should I Consult with an Attorney?
In some states, expungement is a straightforward, almost automatic process. In Illinois, the requirements are rigorous and can be quite complicated. If you have a criminal record that you would like to seal, it would be wise to speak with an Illinois lawyer. A criminal defense attorney in your area will have a full understanding of expungment laws, will be able to explain the process to you, and help ensure your case goes by as smoothly and quickly as possible, getting your life back on track as soon as possible.