Many people qualify for expungement in Illinois – and you could be one of them. Whether you qualify depends on several factors, including:
- The type of crime you were charged with
- Whether you were arrested and not charged, or whether your charges were dropped
- The outcome of your case
- How much time has passed since the offense or the time you completed your sentence
What is Expungement in Illinois?
Expungement is the process of clearing a criminal record. Once a record is expunged, it’s like it never even happened – people won’t see it when they’re looking up your criminal history, and you can even tell people that you don’t have a criminal record at all.
The Illinois Criminal Identification Act is what allows people to get a fresh start through expungement and sealing. (Sealing is a different matter – it’s not the same as expungement, but it essentially cleans up your record.) Under the Criminal Identification Act, expungement means “to physically destroy the records or return them to the petitioner and to obliterate the petitioner’s name from any official index or public record, or both.” In plain English, that means if a judge grants your request to expunge your record in Illinois, the agency or agencies that have copies of it must either destroy them or return them to you.
Related: Expungement definition
How Does Expungement in Illinois Work?
If you want to clear your criminal record in Illinois, be prepared: It can be a complicated and lengthy process. For most people, it makes sense to work with an expungement lawyer who can find all the appropriate documentation (such as your complete criminal history) and file the right petitions with the court.
Related: Where to get copies of your criminal records in Chicago
Once you have your complete criminal history and your attorney has filed a petition with the court to clear your record, your case will end up on the state’s attorney’s desk. The state’s attorney is a lawyer who works for the government, and he or she will look at your record and your petition to determine whether the state should be okay with you getting a fresh start.
The state’s attorney can object to your petition or sign off on it and send it on to the judge with his or her approval.
If the state’s attorney objects to your petition and doesn’t believe that you deserve a fresh start, you could be entitled to a hearing. Your lawyer can represent you at that hearing to make sure everyone understands why you deserve a fresh start.
Ultimately, though, whether or not your record is expunged isn’t up to anyone but the judge in your case. The judge will look at the state’s attorney’s recommendation, your petition and your previous criminal history to make a decision.
If the judge grants your petition – which means he or she agrees that you deserve a fresh start without a criminal record hanging over your head – the agencies that have copies of your records must destroy them or give them to you.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Expungement in Illinois?
Expungement in Illinois can be a complicated process, but we’re here to help you.
Call us at 847-920-4540 right now for a free case review. We’ll answer your questions about expungement and determine whether you may qualify after we ask you a few questions of our own. If you do qualify, we can help you move forward toward the best possible outcome.