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sealed record expungementWe all make mistakes, some of which involve the criminal justice system. Whether you were arrested, cited, charged, or ultimately convicted, your actions left a record somewhere. This record may make it difficult for you to obtain employment or housing, or may negatively impact your relationships. Regardless of how “minor” or how long ago a conviction may have been, that record will follow you forever.

The good news is that depending on the circumstances, you may be eligible under Illinois law to have this record removed from the criminal database in a process called expungement. Sealing a court record is also possible in some situations. Both offer different results, but each are important to understand if you have a criminal record you wish to have removed.

Differences Between Expunging and Sealing

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juvenile crime expungement in illinoisAn expungement is the process of sealing criminal and arrest records to make them unavailable to the public. The Illinois legislature has enacted more forgiving laws concerning the expungement of one’s juvenile record as opposed to the expungement of one’s adult criminal record. In June 2014, Illinois governor Pat Quinn signed a law enabling adults to expunge a wider list of criminal activity and criminal charges that they incurred before they reached the age of 18. The purpose of the legislation is to prevent adults interested in living a law-abiding life from being haunted by the legal mistakes they made as juveniles.

Illinois Juvenile Record Expungement Law

Illinois law allows for expungement if the following circumstances are present:

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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?

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