You don’t have to let your criminal record define you – or let it hold you back from finding a good job in Arlington Heights, getting a great place to live, or obtaining credit. If your record qualifies, you can clear it by expungement or sealing and get the fresh start you deserve.
Expungement in Arlington Heights, IL
If you’re like most people with a criminal history, you know it’s rough having to explain your past to prospective employers, landlords and others. Your criminal record may even make people distrust you, and that’s not fair. Fortunately, for many people, there’s a way out: criminal record expungement. Arlington Heights expungement cases go through the Cook County court system.
Not all records qualify for expungement, but those that don’t may qualify for criminal record sealing. Sealing is essentially the same, and we cover that in more detail below.
For the most part, you can expunge:
- Arrests that never resulted in a conviction (including misdemeanors and felonies) if you were released without charges, the charges were dropped or you were acquitted
- Offenses that resulted in a sentence of supervision or qualified probation, in some cases
- Convictions that have been vacated or reversed, or for which you were pardoned by the governor
- Convictions that were approved by the Prisoner Review Board
- Some nonviolent Class 3 and Class 4 felonies, but only under certain conditions
Are There Waiting Periods Before You Can Expunge Your Record in Arlington Heights?
Generally, you must wait a specific period of time before you can expunge your record. The amount of time you must wait depends on the outcome of the case you’re trying to expunge:
- You can ask the court to clear your record immediately if your case was dismissed or the charges were dropped.
- You can ask the court to clear your record immediately if you are found not guilty (acquitted) of a crime.
- You must wait 2 years after completing a sentence of supervision before you can ask the court to clear your record.
- You must wait 5 years after completing a sentence of qualified or special probation before you can ask the court to clear your record.
If you’re not sure whether you’ve met the time requirements, you should ask an attorney.
Expunging Your Record in Arlington Heights
For many people, the easiest way to expunge a record in Arlington Heights is to work with an experienced expungement attorney. When you work with an attorney, you don’t have to do much – your lawyer will handle it all for you (though you’ll have to provide supporting documentation, as outlined below). Your attorney will even represent you if you’re entitled to a hearing because someone objects to your petition (more on that later).
The chart below explains each step in the expungement process and how it works.
|1. You discuss your case with a lawyer.
||You schedule a free consultation with an Arlington Heights expungement lawyer. Your lawyer will explain your options for expungement or sealing.
|2. Your attorney conducts a background check.
||Unless you already have a complete copy of your criminal history, your attorney will conduct a background check. Your attorney needs the information on your criminal history to complete your expungement or sealing petition.
|3. Your lawyer figures out which cases are eligible for expungement and which are eligible for sealing.
||Your lawyer will determine which cases on your record are eligible for expungement under Illinois law. It’s okay if you can’t expunge all of them; some may still be eligible for criminal record sealing, which is a very similar process (with very similar results).
|4. You give your lawyer any evidence that supports your case.
||Your attorney will ask you to come up with some documentation that can show the judge in your case that you deserve a fresh start. You may consider submitting things like a high school equivalency certificate, or college transcripts or a college diploma. In some cases, documentation of a clean drug test may be required.
|5. Your attorney puts together a petition.
||A petition is a packet of documents designed to explain your situation – and why you deserve a fresh start – to the judge assigned to your case. Yours will include a formal request for a judge to clear your record, plus any supporting documentation that makes your case stronger.
|6. Your attorney files your petition with the appropriate court for Arlington Heights.
||Your lawyer will file your petition for you, which typically means going to the courthouse and submitting several copies. You pay the court’s filing fee.
|7. All interested parties review your petition.
||Interested parties are those that have an interest in clearing your record, such as the state’s attorney and the agency that arrested you. Each interested party has the chance to object to expunging your record, but in many cases, they simply pass along a favorable recommendation to the judge. If someone objects, you may be entitled to a hearing to present your case; your attorney can represent you at this hearing.
|8. A judge reviews your packet.
||The judge assigned to your case reviews all the documents, including your petition for expungement, your supporting documentation, and the recommendations or objections of all interested parties.
|9. The judge decides whether to expunge your record.
||After reviewing all the documents, the judge will make a decision in your case. If the judge approves your petition, the court will send an official order to the County Clerk, the agency that arrested you, the Illinois State Police and the FBI. The order directs those agencies to destroy your records or return them to you.
Who Can See Expunged Records in Arlington Heights?
If the judge grants your petition and clears your record, nobody will ever even know you had a record. It’s like nothing ever happened, because the agencies that have copies of your records are court-ordered to destroy them or return them to you. You never even have to tell anyone that you once had a criminal record; it’s a true fresh start.
Ready to learn more? Download your free Illinois expungement e-book.
Sealing a Criminal Record in Arlington Heights
Sometimes criminal records don’t qualify for expungement, but in most cases, that’s okay; that’s because those records are often eligible for criminal record sealing instead.
Criminal record sealing is very similar to expungement, but there’s one difference: Your records still exist, and a small handful of people may still be able to see them. They won’t come up on standard background checks, so landlords, employers and other won’t see them – but they will appear when someone does a fingerprint-based background check on you or when you’re working your way through the legal system with another case. People who can see sealed records include:
- Prosecutors working in an official capacity (such as prosecuting you for something else)
- The Illinois State Police
- States’ attorneys
- People working in the court system
- Law enforcement
- The Illinois Department of Corrections
- Employers that require fingerprint-based background checks
Records You Can (and Can’t) Seal in Arlington Heights
You can typically seal most nonviolent misdemeanors and felonies. You usually can’t seal those related to violence or:
- Class A misdemeanors under the Humane Care for Animals Act
- Dog Fighting
- Domestic battery or aggravated domestic battery
- Driving under the influence
- Felony public indecency
- Misdemeanors listed under Article 11 of the Criminal Code
- Reckless driving
- Sex offenses that require you to register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration Act
- Soliciting or patronizing a prostitute
- Violation of an order of protection, a civil no-contact order or a stalking no-contact order
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Sealing or Expungement in Arlington Heights?
If you’re thinking about getting the fresh start you deserve, we may be able to help you. Call us at 847-920-4540 or fill out the form below – we’ll answer all your questions during a free consultation.
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