Recent changes in Illinois law have made it possible to have a greater number of offenses expunged or sealed from criminal records. This has made it easier for many individuals to start over with a clean slate, helping them to secure good jobs and stable housing. Once a person’s criminal record is sealed or expunged, the public, in most cases, cannot view the record in an online search or background check. If a person does not request a record sealing or expungement, all prior convictions will remain accessible forever and are available for public viewing.
Not all felonies or misdemeanors, however, are eligible for sealing or expungement. The experienced Wheaton and DuPage County expungement lawyers at Martin & Kent, LLC can review your record and determine whether a particular charge is eligible for expungement. If so, we can guide you through the process and file the necessary paperwork with the court to help you clear your criminal record once and for all.
Which Criminal Charges Are Eligible for Expungement?
In general, the majority of criminal arrests are eligible for expungement from a person’s criminal record. The catch, however, is that the charge or arrest must not have resulted in a criminal conviction. Ordinarily, your case must have resulted in one of the following:
- An acquittal or a finding of not guilty
- Stricken with Leave (SOL)
- A complete dismissal of your charge
- Certain limited types (but not all types) of probation that you successfully completed
- A period of supervision that you successfully completed
- The prosecution filed no charge
- Nolle prosequi (the prosecutor opted not to prosecute you)
- A finding of lack of probable cause for an arrest
Generally speaking, if the final disposition of your case mentions a term of probation (other than certain limited types), guilty finding by a jury or judge, conditional discharge, jail time (or Department of Corrections time), fines, time served, or you have a conviction, your criminal record is likely not eligible for expungement. Under some circumstances, however, you may be able to have your criminal record sealed.
A criminal conviction is not eligible for expungement in Illinois. In some cases, however, you may not expunge an arrest or charge even without a conviction. Those charges include driving under the influence as well as sexual offenses that involve a minor.
Steps to Take in Order to Obtain a Criminal Records Expungement
There are certain steps that you should take in order to obtain a criminal records expungement in Illinois. Those steps include the following:
- Getting all of your documents together – The first step you should take is to assemble all of the necessary documentation. These relevant documents include the paperwork from your original court hearing, as well as your original charging documents. The most important information on these documents includes the date of your arrest, your case number, a list of your criminal charges, as well as the outcome of the initial court hearing. An experienced criminal defense lawyer in Wheaton and DuPage County, Illinois can help you assemble this documentation if you have not done so already.
- Complete and submit all of the necessary paperwork – You will also need to complete a Request to Expunge Form and follow all of the instructions on the form. Again, an experienced criminal defense attorney in Illinois can help you complete and file this form.
- File the completed form with the clerk’s office – You will then need to file the form with the clerk of the circuit court in the county where your initial hearing originally took place. The clerk’s office will also send you or your lawyer information about your court date, as well as any filing fees you will need to pay.
- Talk to your lawyer about your court date – Your criminal defense attorney can let you know what you should expect on your court date and whether or not you can expect to testify at your court date. Your lawyer can help you prepare your testimony so that you can make an effective and convincing presentation before the judge. Favorable in-court testimony can go a long way when it comes to getting the expungement you desire.
- Go to court on the appointed date – One of the most important steps in the process is to attend the court hearing with your criminal defense lawyer. Once you testify and your attorney presents your case before the judge, the judge will make a decision about whether to approve or deny your expungement request. If the court denies your expungement request, your lawyer may be able to file a motion for reconsideration with the court. If the court approves your request, it will forward the Expungement Order to the relevant police departments and prosecutors within a 60-day period. The process is complete once you obtain a letter in the mail from the Illinois State Police. After that point, you can honestly tell prospective landlords, educational institutions, employers, and others that you do not have a criminal record.
Benefits of Getting Seeking the Expungement of Your Criminal Record
It goes without saying that obtaining a criminal records expungement can be extremely advantageous for you. The most obvious benefit to getting your record expunged is that it will not be visible to the public online (or in paper form) at any point in the future. This can come in handy given the current age of online criminal background checks—especially for those who are applying for a residential lease or trying to attend school. Employers and prospective employers also routinely perform criminal background checks on both current and prospective employees.
Call a Wheaton and DuPage County, Illinois Expungement Lawyer Today
The Illinois Criminal Identification Act regulates all criminal record expungements in the state. This law, as well as the court’s rules and regulations, can be extremely difficult to interpret and navigate. This is due, in part, to the fact that the law is constantly changing.
The skilled expungement lawyers at Martin & Kent, LLC can help you find your way through the process and maximize your chances of obtaining a records expungement in Illinois.
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) 430-8000 today.