Expunging your criminal record in Elk Grove may be as simple as contacting an attorney – and that may mean the only thing standing between you and the fresh start you deserve is a phone call. Here’s what you need to know about expunging a record in Elk Grove (or any other city in Illinois).
Expungement in Elk Grove
If your criminal record is hanging over your head and preventing you from getting a good job, finding a place to live, or obtaining credit, there’s good news: Your record may be eligible for expungement. Expungement means your record is destroyed or returned to you; if a judge issues an expungement order, your criminal history no longer exists.
Expungement is an administrative process, so you must ask the court system to review your record and erase it. That’s completely possible, and this guide explains.
Does Your Record Qualify for Expungement in Elk Grove?
Some criminal records qualify for expungement, and those that don’t may still qualify for criminal record sealing. Both have very similar effects, but with expungement, your record is completely erased; nobody can ever see it because it no longer exists. (You can learn more about criminal record sealing in the later section, “Sealing a Criminal Record in Elk Grove.”)
Generally, people are able to expunge:
Arrests that never resulted in a conviction, which includes misdemeanors and felonies if the charges were dropped, you were released without charges, or you were found not guilty of a crime
Offenses for which you were sentenced to supervision or qualified probation, in many cases
Convictions that have been vacated, reversed or pardoned by the governor
Convictions that were approved by the Prisoner Review Board
Some nonviolent Class 3 and Class 4 felonies, but only under specific conditions
How Long Do You Have to Wait to Expunge Your Record?
If some or all of the items on your criminal record are eligible for expungement, you may have to wait for a certain amount of time to pass before you can ask the court to erase them. The table below outlines the waiting period requirements.
Dismissed or Dropped Charges
Acquittal (Found “Not Guilty”)
Sentenced to Supervision
Sentenced to Qualified or Special Probation
No waiting period. You may ask the court to clear your record immediately.
No waiting period. You can ask the court to clear your record immediately.
2 years. Most people must wait at least 2 years after completing a sentence of supervision.
5 years. Most people must wait 5 years after completing a sentence of qualified probation or special probation.
How to Expunge a Record in Elk Grove
Many people choose to work with an attorney to expunge a criminal record in Elk Grove. Working with an attorney means it’s a hands-off process for you; you don’t have to fill out or file your petition, chase it through the court system, or represent yourself at a hearing. And if a judge denies your petition, your attorney can also file a motion to ask the judge to reconsider.
Most expungement processes are very similar, and the table below outlines a general timeline of events.
Steps to Expungement
Step 1: You talk to an attorney.
You get a free consultation with an Elk Grove expungement attorney who explains your options based on the information you provide.
Step 2: Your lawyer does a background check.
If you don’t have a complete copy of your criminal history, your attorney will complete a background check to get it. This is necessary to find out which offenses qualify for expungement or sealing, as well as which offenses must remain on your criminal record.
Step 3: Your attorney determines your eligibility.
After looking at your entire criminal record, your attorney will figure out whether you can ask the court to expunge or seal your criminal record. Some offenses may not qualify for expungement, but may still qualify for sealing.
Step 4: You provide supporting documents.
Your attorney advises you to come up with supporting documentation, such as proof that you’ve done community service, graduated from high school or earned a high school equivalency certificate, or graduated from college or obtained a trade certification. Your attorney may also advise you to provide proof of a negative drug screen or proof of completion of a treatment program. The reason you need supporting documentation is to show the judge why you deserve expungement or sealing, even if others (such as those in Step 7) don’t recommend it.
Step 5: Your attorney creates a petition for you.
Your attorney will put together a petition – that’s the legal name for a packet of documents that goes to the court – to ask the judge in your case to clear your record.
Step 6: Your attorney files your petition.
Your attorney files the petition with the appropriate court. You pay the filing fee associated with filing your petition.
Step 7: Interested parties review your petition.
Some people are allowed to review your petition before it makes its way to the judge’s desk, such as the state’s attorney and police agencies. The interested parties may include their own recommendations with your petition before forwarding it to the judge. For example, the state’s attorney may recommend expungement – or he or she may recommend that the judge doesn’t clear your criminal record.
Step 8: The judge reviews your complete petition.
The judge will look at all the information attached to your petition, as well as the petition itself, before making a decision. Even if some interested parties don’t recommend expungement or sealing, that doesn’t mean the judge will deny it – the judge is obligated to look at the “big picture,” which includes your supporting documentation.
Step 9: The judge makes a decision.
If the judge decides to grant your petition – that is, if the judge says yes to your expungement or sealing – the courts will issue an official order to the County Clerk, the agency that arrested you, the Illinois State Police, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation that says those agencies must destroy your records or return them to you.
Can Anyone See Expunged Records?
Nobody can see expunged records because they no longer exist. There’s nothing for anyone to see, so it’s as if you never had a criminal record in the first place.
Some criminal records don’t qualify for expungement, such as most of those that involve convictions. However, even if your records aren’t eligible for expungement in Elk Grove, they may still qualify for sealing. Sealing is very similar to expungement, but your records still exist, and some people may still be able to see them. Your Elk Grove expungement attorney can help figure out what’s best for your situation so you can get a fresh start.
Who Can See Sealed Records?
If a judge in Elk Grove decides to seal your record, some people will still be able to see it, including:
Prosecutors who are working in an official capacity (such as prosecuting you for a different crime)
The Illinois State Police
People who work in the court system
People who work in law enforcement, such as in local police agencies
The Illinois Department of Corrections
Some employers that require fingerprint-based background checks, like the military, some hospitals and schools, and some childcare facilities
What Records Can You Seal?
You can seal many records that don’t qualify for expungement. In fact, most misdemeanor and felony convictions can be sealed, and that means the general public (including landlords and prospective employers) can no longer see them. There are some exceptions to what you can seal, though. You may never seal:
Violation of an order of protection, a civil no-contact order or a stalking no-contact order
Do You Need to Talk to an Elk Grove Expungement Attorney?
If you’re thinking about clearing your criminal record through expungement or sealing, we may be able to help you. Call our office now at 847-920-4540 or fill out the form below – we’ll be happy to answer your questions during a free consultation.
The important thing is that you may not have to live with your criminal record any longer. We may be able to help you clear it and get the fresh start you deserve.
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