When you’re looking to leave your past legal troubles behind, you’ll encounter two key options: expungement and sealing. Both can significantly impact your future, but in different ways. Understanding which path is more beneficial for your unique situation is crucial as you seek to clear your name and move forward. This guide will help you understand the differences between expungement and sealing, and how each one can shape your future. Read More
If you’re like many people in Chicago and the surrounding communities, you have a criminal background that’s holding you back from doing the things you want. A criminal history can stop you from getting a job, finding a place to live, or even getting into the school you want to attend – but is expungement the answer for you if you have a conviction?
Here’s what you need to know.
Can You Expunge Convictions in Illinois?
Expungement is the process you go through to clear your record permanently and completely. If your records are expunged, the agencies that have them will either physically destroy them or return them to you.
A Word on Convictions
If your case resulted in prison or jail time, conditional discharge or probation (with a few exceptions), you have a conviction on your record.
You cannot expunge a conviction in the state of Illinois except under very specific circumstances (like those reserved for veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces). However, you might be eligible for criminal record sealing instead.
What You Need to Know About Probation
If you received “Special Probation,” you might still be eligible for criminal record expungement. That means if your case resulted in TASC probation, second-chance probation or an expungeable drug probation and you completed your sentence, you might be able to have your conviction erased.
The Alternative to Expunging Convictions in Illinois
When you don’t qualify for expungement, you may still qualify for criminal record sealing. Many misdemeanor and felony convictions are eligible for sealing. The convictions you can’t seal are listed below.
Misdemeanor and Felony Convictions That Are Not Eligible for Criminal Record Sealing
- Reckless driving
- Animal cruelty
- Domestic battery
- Sex offenses
In most cases, you must wait at least 3 years to seal a conviction for a misdemeanor or a felony. Sometimes, though, if you did something like earned a diploma, degree or certificate during your sentence, you could be eligible for criminal record sealing sooner.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Expungement or Sealing?
If you have a criminal record and you’d like a fresh start, we may be able to help you.
Call us at 847-920-4540 right now for a free case review. If you’re eligible, we can help you start moving on with your life.