If you’re like many people, you know that your criminal record can prevent you from getting a job, finding a place to live, or even getting the credit you need to get ahead in life – but what you may not know is that it doesn’t have to be that way. For some people, expungement is the answer. If you live in Elgin, expungement may be an option if your record qualifies (and if it doesn’t, you may qualify for criminal record sealing).
Expungement is a legal process that erases a person’s criminal record. Not all records are eligible for expungement, but those that aren’t may be eligible for sealing. There are some things that must remain on your criminal record forever, but for most people, expunging a criminal record is the first step on the path to a fresh start. If you’re like many people in Elgin, expungement is your way forward.
How to Qualify for Expungement in Elgin
Your criminal record may have several individual items on it, such as arrests and prosecutions. Some of those individual items can be expunged, and others may not be eligible. Generally speaking, the offenses on your record that may qualify for expungement include:
Arrests that never resulted in a conviction
Convictions that were reversed, vacated or pardoned
Convictions that were approved by the Prisoner Review Board
Sentences for qualified probation or supervision
Some nonviolent Class 3 and Class 4 felonies, but only if you’re an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces
If some of the items on your criminal record can’t be expunged, you may still be able to seal them. (We cover that in the later section, Records That Don’t Qualify for Expungement: Sealing May Be an Option.) It’s also possible to expunge some of the items on your record while sealing others.
How Long Do You Have to Wait Before Expunging Your Criminal Record?
For some items on your criminal record, you have to meet a minimum waiting period. For example, if you were sentenced to supervision, you must wait at least two years after successfully completing your supervision. Likewise, you must usually wait five years after completing special probation before you can ask the court to expunge your record.
However, if you were arrested and the state dropped the charges against you, your case was dismissed, or you were found not guilty of a crime in court, you can ask the state to expunge your criminal record immediately.
How to Expunge Your Record in Elgin
It takes time to expunge a criminal record. You have to go through a series of steps, and your petition has to be reviewed by multiple people before a judge can grant your expungement. Here’s the typical path an expungement case takes:
You meet with an attorney. Your Elgin expungement attorney will evaluate your case and let you know whether expungement or sealing is a good option for you.
Your attorney conducts a background check to get your entire criminal record. If you have a copy of your entire criminal record, your lawyer doesn’t need to do a background check.
Eligibility determination. Your Elgin expungement attorney uses your criminal record to figure out which offenses qualify for expungement, which qualify for sealing, and which must remain on your record.
You provide supporting documentation. You may need to send in supporting documentation with your petition, such as proof of a negative drug screen, letters that attest to your character, or proof that you completed probation.
Your attorney drafts and files your petition. Your lawyer will put together your expungement petition and file it with the court. You must also pay the filing fee.
Review. Parties that have an interest in your criminal record clearing case, such as the state’s attorney, will get an opportunity to review your expungement petition. If a party objects, they’ll include an objection with your petition as it moves toward the judge’s desk.
Judicial review. The judge assigned to your case will review your petition and the recommendations from interested parties. It’s important to note that even if someone like the state’s attorney objects to your petition, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the judge will deny it. The judge will look at all relevant factors to determine whether you deserve a clean slate.
If the judge approves your expungement petition, the courts will send an order to the County Clerk, the agency that arrested you, the Illinois State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The order will tell those agencies to clear your criminal record.
Who Can See Expunged Records in Elgin?
Nobody can see expunged records in Elgin or anywhere else. When a judge issues an order to expunge your record, the agencies that have your information on file must either destroy their records or return them to you. That means there’s nothing there for anyone to see; expunged means erased.
What if Your Record Doesn’t Qualify for Expungement in Schaumburg?
Some records just aren’t eligible for expungement – and although that may be disappointing, there’s still hope: Your record could qualify for criminal record sealing instead. If your record is sealed, only a small subset of people will be able to see it; it’s not going to be available to the general public through a standard background check.
List of People Who Can See Sealed Records in Schaumburg (or Elsewhere in Illinois)
Not many people have the clearance to see sealed records. Sealed records won’t come up on standard background checks; in fact, you don’t even have to tell people that you have a criminal record if they’re not specifically looking for it. Sealed records will show up on fingerprint-based background checks – but most employers don’t use those. People who can still see sealed criminal records include:
The Illinois State Police
Prosecutors who are working in an official capacity (such as prosecuting you for a different crime)
Judges and those who work in the court system
The Department of Corrections (if you’re later convicted of another offense)
Some employers that require fingerprint-based background checks, such as the military and law enforcement, as well as some schools and healthcare facilities
What Records Are Eligible for Criminal Record Sealing in Schaumburg?
Most misdemeanor and felony convictions are eligible for sealing. However, there are exceptions for violent crimes, some driving offenses, and crimes involving animals. If you aren’t sure whether your record qualifies for sealing, we’ll be happy to tell you during a free case review – just call us at 847-920-4540.
Records That Are Never Eligible for Sealing
Some things must stay on your criminal record – you can’t expunge or seal them, no matter how much time has passed or what you’ve done since, including:
Violation of an order of protection, a civil no-contact order or a stalking no-contact order
Do You Need to Talk to an Elgin Expungement Attorney?
If you’re thinking about clearing your criminal record – or even if you simply want to find out whether you’re eligible for expungement or sealing in Elgin – we’ll be happy to discuss your case during a free consultation.
Call our office at 847-920-4540 to find out how we can help you by:
Creating and filing your expungement petition
Tracking your petition as it makes its way through the court system
Representing you at a hearing if someone objects to your expungement or sealing
Filing a motion to reconsider if the judge declines to clear your record
Call us now at 847-920-4540 or fill out the form below to schedule your free case review with an experienced Elgin expungement attorney who can help.
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