If you’re thinking about sealing your criminal record in Illinois, you’re probably wondering how long it’ll take. This guide explains.
How Long Does it Take to Seal a Criminal Record in Illinois?
Usually, it takes between 4 and 6 months to seal a criminal record in Illinois. But there’s no hard-and-fast rule that says a criminal record sealing case has to make its way through the court system in a set period of time – and lots of factors can impact how quickly your case goes through.
Some of the things that affect how quickly you can seal your record in Illinois include:
- Whether you already have a complete copy of your criminal history
- How many offenses you want to seal, and whether any qualify for expungement instead
- Whether the offenses you have on your record are actually eligible for sealing
- How quickly you get your paperwork and supporting documentation to your criminal record clearing lawyer
- The court system’s backlog of cases
- Whether anyone objects to your petition
Here’s a closer look at each.
Factor #1 in How Long it Takes to Seal a Criminal Record in Illinois: Whether You Already Have a Complete Copy of Your Criminal History
If you don’t have a copy of your criminal history, that’s okay – your lawyer can run a background check for you. However, if you do have a copy, your criminal record clearing attorney will find it helpful; it’ll show everything your lawyer needs to know to start your petition.
Related: How long do you have to wait to seal your criminal record in Illinois?
Factor #2 in How Long it Takes to Seal a Criminal Record in Illinois: How Many Offenses You Want to Seal, and Whether Any Qualify for Expungement Instead
If you have multiple offenses, you can ask the court to seal all of them at once. However, if some of your offenses qualify for expungement, you may want to pursue that route instead. The processes are similar for both expungement and sealing, but it may take you and your attorney some time to determine which offenses should be sealed and which should be expunged. The faster you get through choosing which way to clear your record, the sooner your attorney can put together and submit your petition.
Factor #3 in How Long it Takes to Seal a Criminal Record in Illinois: Whether the Offenses You Have on Your Record Are Actually Eligible for Sealing
Some criminal offenses can’t be sealed, so you can’t ask the court to clear them from your record. Your attorney will need to go through your entire criminal history to determine which offenses are eligible and which are not, which takes a little bit of time.
Related: What do I have to tell employers when my record is expunged?
Factor #4 in How Long it Takes to Seal a Criminal Record in Illinois: How Quickly You Get Your Paperwork and Supporting Documentation to Your Criminal Record Clearing Lawyer
Your attorney may need you to provide supporting documentation to help your case. For example, you may want to hand in things like:
- A high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate if you’ve obtained one since your last conviction
- Your college transcripts showing that you’ve graduated
- Letters from people who can vouch for your good character, such as community leaders
- Proof that you completed your sentences for the crimes you’re asking to seal (such as proof of volunteer work)
Your attorney will know exactly which types of documents you need in your case, and the sooner you hand them in, the sooner your lawyer can file your sealing petition with the court.
Related: The complete guide to FBI expungement in Illinois
Factor #5 in How Long it Takes to Seal a Criminal Record in Illinois: The Court System’s Backlog of Cases
There’s no way to predict how many other people are applying for criminal record sealing and expungement at the same time you are. Sometimes this leads to a backlog of cases, and you simply have to wait your turn for your file to come up. Other things can affect the backlog, too, such as how many people within the court system aren’t able to come to work to handle their part in your case.
Factor #6 in How Long it Takes to Seal a Criminal Record in Illinois: Whether Anyone Objects to Your Petition
If someone objects to your criminal record sealing petition, you may be entitled to a hearing. If that happens, you’ll have to wait for an open spot on the court’s calendar. Sometimes the wait is long, but often, it’s worth it; a hearing gives you a chance to explain why you deserve criminal record sealing (or expungement, if that’s what you’re applying for). Your attorney can represent you at a hearing, too, so you don’t have to go in there alone.
Related: Can you work for the government if you have a criminal history?
Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Expungement or Sealing?
If you’re tired of your criminal past coming back to bite you, we may be able to help. Call us right now at 847-920-4540 or fill out the form below so we can talk about your case.
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