Many Illinois residents struggle with the burden of a criminal record. Even after paying their fines, performing community service or serving jail time, the outside world still punishes them for their crimes. Many landlords, loan officers and hiring managers hesitate to work with someone with a criminal record.
Thankfully, many Illinois residents can expunge their criminal record. This process prevents anyone but government officials and law enforcement from viewing past arrests, convictions and sentencing. How does it work?
Expungement eligibility for offenses
Illinois law allows people the option of expunging or sealing their record. The severity of the crime and whether it resulted in a conviction determine eligibility. Offenses eligible for expungement include:
- Arrests for misdemeanors or felonies that did not result in a conviction.
- Convictions for misdemeanors and felonies if a court reversed or vacated the conviction, the Governor pardoned the offense, or the Prisoner Review Board awarded a Certificate of Eligibility for Expungement.
- Sentences for court supervision after a certain time.
Though an offense may be ineligible for expungement, the courts may allow a person to seal their record. Sealing hides the offense from public view but does not erase the record. Courts may seal convictions for misdemeanors and felonies if three years have passed since the completion of the sentence. A background check may show that an individual has sealed a felony, but not the specifics.
Some offenses are too severe to keep from the public record. The court will not expunge sex crimes, DUIs or reckless driving. Any conviction for any crime will remain unless that conviction was reversed, vacated, pardoned by the Governor, or approved by the Prisoner Review Board.
A lawyer can help
Those hoping to expunge a criminal record must locate a significant number of legal documents for their petition. People have found more success in hiring a local attorney familiar with Illinois criminal law. A lawyer can help assemble all necessary expungement documents and submit them to the correct government offices.