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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
630-472-9700Available 24/7

Expungement and Sealing: When a Criminal Charge Does Not Have to Be Permanent

Posted on in Expungement

illinois expungement attorneyIf you are an Illinois resident over age 18, any criminal trouble that you faced could follow you indefinitely. If you have been convicted or even if you have been arrested and the charges have been dropped, it may be possible for friends, family or even past and current employers to learn about this information.

Evidence of prior criminal convictions can affect your social reputation and the way current and future employers and social contacts may view you. Specifically in Illinois, some criminal misdemeanor or felony charges can lead you to become illegible to perform certain jobs, hold a liquor or lottery ticket license for your business or even operate a motor vehicle. These are just a few examples. The list of prohibitions that result from past criminal convictions, even minor ones, is extensive.

So what can a past criminal offender do to reclaim his reputation?

Expunging Criminal Charges

Illinois law concerning criminal record expungements and sealing can be found here. If you have been arrested and charges have been dropped or if you have been sentenced to probation or a supervised sentence, you may be eligible to go through a process to have the information erased or “expunged” from your record. Once your record has been expunged, these types of criminal information will no longer appear on background checks or in publically accessible court files. In some cases, criminal convictions may even be expunged if you work with a lawyer to have the conviction overturned or vacated.

To initiate an expungement the individual or his lawyer must petition the court. If an individual is arrested but not charged or if the conviction is vacated or reversed, there is no waiting period that an individual must complete before requesting expungement. If an individual is ordered supervision for certain charges, the individual must wait either five or two years (depending on the offense) following the satisfactory termination of the suspension to be eligible for expungement. Similarly, if the individual is sentenced to a qualifying probation, she may also have to wait five years to be eligible for expungement.

Sealing Criminal Convictions

Though some classes of criminal convictions may be expunged from one’s criminal record, the majority of criminal trouble cannot be expunged. Under Illinois law, some individuals who cannot have their records expunged may petition to have their criminal records sealed so that their criminal convictions are no longer publicly searchable. If a criminal record is sealed it is removed from the court clerk’s index and is not available to the public without a court order. However, unlike a criminal expungement, a sealed criminal record still exists and will not be erased completely. The record will still be accessible to law enforcement officials.

Illinois law concerning expungement and sealing of criminal records is very detailed and contains several exceptions for different types of criminal accusations and convictions. Notably, there are different requirements for sealing and expunging juvenile records that will be discussed in a later post. Accordingly whether you would be eligible for a record expungement or sealing is a highly fact specific question. Criminal law attorneys at Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. counsel clients on sealing and expungement-related matters with the utmost sensitivity to their specific cases. If you would like assistance obtaining an expungement or sealing of your criminal record in Illinois, we encourage you to call our office at 630-472-9700 to schedule an appointment with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

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