If you are currently facing criminal charges in the greater Wheaton, Illinois, and DuPage County areas, you will have a criminal record that members of the general public can view at any time. Moreover, if you ultimately plead guilty or the court convicts you of the criminal charge, that will also show up on your record.
All of this can leave serious consequences. For example, when prospective employers and educational institutions perform background checks on you, these past criminal offenses will most definitely show up.
Illinois differentiates between “expunging” and “sealing” a person’s criminal record. If you never pleaded guilty or the court never convicted you of a crime, you may qualify for a criminal records expungement. However, if you were ultimately found guilty or convicted of the crime, you may qualify to have your criminal record sealed. Both processes require different processes.
At Martin & Kent, L.L.C., our experienced criminal defense lawyers have more than 45 years of combined legal experience. We can review your record and determine whether you are eligible for expungement—and if so, we can assist you throughout the process.
What Happens When Your Criminal Record Is Expunged?
Once a person’s criminal record is expunged, the state will either return your records to you or destroy them. Moreover, they should remove your name from any and all criminal records that are available for public viewing. Sealed records, on the other hand, are kept confidential, but they are not returned to you or destroyed. In most cases, the general public cannot view a sealed criminal record, but law enforcement agencies still may.
One of the best benefits of a criminal records expungement is that, in many cases, you do not need to disclose your prior convictions or arrests to anyone who may ask about them—including prospective employers.
Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer to Help With a Criminal Records Expungement
If you want your criminal records sealed or expunged, retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can assist you throughout the process from start to finish. In Illinois, the Criminal Identification Act governs sealing and expungement of criminal records. The provisions of this extremely complicated law change on a regular basis. A good lawyer can help you navigate the process and can assist you with:
- Determining whether your record qualifies for sealing or expungement, usually depending on whether you sustained a felony or misdemeanor charge—and whether prosecutors ultimately convicted you of that charge
- Helping you complete the necessary legal paperwork to request the expungement or sealing
- Crafting a persuasive argument on your behalf that the state should seal or expunge your criminal record
- Attending any court hearings with you and advocating on your behalf before the judge
When it comes to expunging and sealing an Illinois criminal record, there is too much on the line to go it alone. A good lawyer can advocate for you throughout the process and help you reap the ultimate benefits of a criminal records expungement. Some of those benefits include:
- No criminal record visible to the public – Generally speaking, expunging a criminal record takes it away from the public eye. This can come in handy when you apply for a job, for school, or for a lease. In the current age of criminal background checks, a serious record is a huge detractor. The lack of a criminal record, however, can increase your chances of getting accepted at the job, school, or residence of your choice.
- You can obtain a license or membership more easily – A variety of professions require that their members carry a license or become a member of a professional association or organization. In many cases, you must carry this license and hold a member to the professional organization to practice your chosen profession. Many licensing agencies and professional association boards will not accept individuals with serious criminal records. In some cases, the applicant must complete other requirements or wait a certain period of time before receiving a license. Not having a criminal record significantly increases your chances of gaining the license or admission that you desire. Keep in mind, however, that even if you obtain a records expungement, you may still need to disclose a prior conviction on a professional application, depending on the organization’s specific disclosure requirements.
- Making you more credible in court – If you are the plaintiff or a witness in a civil trial, such as in a car accident case, upon cross-examination, the opposing lawyer generally cannot use a prior expunged conviction to detract from your credibility. However, in some circumstances, the opposing lawyer can bring up a non-expunged prior conviction to try to show the jury that you are not credible or that you are not likely to tell the truth. A records expungement, therefore, can help if you ever have to testify in court.
Talk to an Experienced Wheaton and DuPage County, Illinois, Expungement Lawyer Today
The experienced criminal defense lawyers at Martin & Kent, L.L.C., understand the expunging and sealing process. Moreover, they know how to surmount the various procedural hurdles you must overcome for an Illinois court to grant an expungement petition.
Our skilled lawyers have represented hundreds of clients in criminal record expungement cases and are equipped to help you prepare an aggressive argument for granting your petition. Given the potential benefits of a criminal records expungement, you want a lawyer on your side who will truly advocate for you and your interests.
To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with an experienced Wheaton and DuPage County, Illinois, expungement lawyer, please call our free 24-hour hotline at (630) 474-8000 today.