Expungement in Illinois: Everything You Need to Know to Clear Your Criminal Record

Expungement, in Illinois, is a process that can get you your life back. It can clear away your old criminal record and give you the fresh start you deserve. If your record is expunged, you don’t have to tell anyone that you were ever involved in the criminal justice system – and your past won’t come back to haunt you on background checks.

Nobody will know that you ever had a criminal record because expungement erases it.

Expungement in Illinois: Everything You Need to Know to Get a Fresh Start

We understand – you’re sick of having your criminal record hanging over your head every time you try to make changes in your life. You’re tired of telling employers, landlords, creditors and others that you have a criminal record… and we don’t blame you. Your criminal record can really hold you back.

But it doesn’t have to.

An expungement in Illinois will erase your criminal record. It’s like nothing ever happened.

Here’s what you need to know.

What Crimes Can Be Expunged in Illinois?

Not all records qualify for expungement. Generally speaking, most convictions can only be sealed, not expunged. There are exceptions, such as those for honorably discharged veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. You can expunge some juvenile cases, as well.

However, you can expunge arrest records, cases that were dismissed, cases in which you were found not guilty, and cases in which the charges were dropped. You can sometimes expunge offenses if you were sentenced to supervision or put on qualified probation, as well, but there’s a waiting period; in cases like those, it may be best to consult with an Illinois expungement attorney.

If the items on your record don’t qualify for expungement, don’t give up – you may still qualify for criminal record sealing, which is an extremely similar process with nearly the same results. (See the later section “Expungement in Illinois: When Sealing is the Best Alternative.”)

Related: What crimes cannot be expunged in Illinois?

What Can Veterans Do About Expungement in Illinois?

Some honorably discharged veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces (including every branch and the reserve components) qualify for expungement even if they were convicted of crimes. Some veterans can expunge certain Class 3 and Class 4 felony records, as long as the offenses were non-violent, non-sexual and non-gun-related.

Get a FREE E-Book on Expungement and Sealing Here

How Long Do You Have to Wait to Get Your Record Expunged in Illinois?

If you were sentenced to supervision or put on qualified probation, you’ll have to wait the appropriate amount of time before you can petition the court for an expungement in Illinois. Generally, the waiting period ranges from 2 to 5 years (with 5 years being reserved for those who were put on qualified probation). The waiting period begins when you successfully complete your sentence.

Do I Qualify for Expungement in Illinois?

If your case was dismissed, you were found not guilty or acquitted, you were pardoned or you were released without being charged at all, you may qualify for expungement in Illinois. Additionally, you may qualify to expunge some juvenile offenses – and if you’re an honorably discharged veteran, you may qualify to expunge some convictions. If you’re not sure whether you qualify, you should talk to an expungement attorney who can explain your options.

How Much Does It Cost for an Expungement in Illinois?

The cost of an expungement varies based on whether you do it yourself or you hire an attorney to do it for you. No matter which route you take, you’ll have to pay a filing fee in order to enter your petition into the court system. You can get an accurate, up-to-date quote by calling our office right now at 847-920-4540.

Learn more about DIY expungement in Illinois or contact us to talk about your options.

Expungement in Illinois - Attorney Matthew Fakhoury

Expungement in Illinois: When Sealing is the Best Alternative

If you don’t qualify for expungement in Illinois, there’s still hope of cleaning up your criminal record: You could qualify for criminal record sealing.

Criminal record sealing is a lot like expungement. In fact, even the forms you must file and the process you must go through are very similar – but the end result is a little bit different. If your records are sealed, it means that most people can’t see them. They don’t disappear completely, though. Some people will still be able to access your records, including any employers that run fingerprint-based background checks (such as those in the healthcare and childcare fields, as well as the military); people working within the criminal justice system, such as law enforcement professionals, will still be able to see them, too.

Sealing is the best alternative you can get when you don’t qualify for expungement in Illinois. That’s because it has nearly the same end result – and even better, you can seal many convictions. Here’s what you can seal in Illinois:

  • Arrests and charges for misdemeanors and felonies that never led to a conviction (although these are also eligible for expungement)
  • Felony traffic offenses that were reduced to an eligible misdemeanor
  • Convictions for most misdemeanors and felonies

In most cases, you must wait at least 3 years from the date you complete your sentence before you can petition the court to seal your record.

What Crimes Are Ineligible for Sealing or Expungement in Illinois?

Some things must always stay on your criminal record – there’s no way around them. For the most part, you can never seal or expunge:

  • Sex offenses
  • Violent crimes (including domestic violence)
  • Drunk driving
  • Gun crimes

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Expungement in Illinois?

If you’re ready to get the fresh start you deserve, it might be time for you to talk to an attorney about expungement in Illinois. Call our office right now at 847-920-4540 for a free case review, or fill out the form below. We’ll be happy to talk about your situation, tell you what your options are, and get you moving forward so you can leave your criminal record where it belongs: in the past.