Having a criminal record can prevent you from getting a job, finding a place to live, or even obtaining credit – but is there anything you can do about it? What if you were simply arrested and never charged, or if you were found not guilty of a crime?
Illinois law allows you to expunge those types of records. Here’s what you need to know.
Expunging Arrest Records in Illinois
If police arrested you and released you without charging you of a crime, you have a criminal record. However, it’s not the kind of record that has to follow you around forever – under Illinois law, these arrests are eligible for criminal record expungement.
You don’t have to wait a certain amount of time after the incident, either. You can expunge those records immediately.
How to Expunge Arrest Records in Illinois
For most people, the best way to expunge arrest records is to hire an attorney to handle all the paperwork. There are several forms to fill out and file to expunge a criminal record. After your attorney starts your petition, you must wait for the state’s attorney to review it and say whether he or she objects to the petition. If the state’s attorney objects, you may be entitled to a hearing, where your attorney can represent you. After the state’s attorney has agreed to your petition (or objected to it), it’ll eventually end up on a judge’s desk. If you’re expunging an arrest record when you were never charged with a crime, your petition is likely to receive approval from the judge.
Expunging Findings of “Not Guilty”
If the state accused you of a crime but you were acquitted (found not guilty), you’re eligible to expunge your record immediately. The same process applies – you’ll fill out and file several forms with the Clerk of Court in your jurisdiction (or your attorney will do so for you) and your petition has to go through the state’s attorney’s office before it goes to the judge. Just like an arrest that never led to any charges, your expungement petition for being found not guilty of a crime is likely to receive judicial approval.
What if You Were Found Guilty?
Expungement is usually only an option if you weren’t found guilty of a crime (although there are some exceptions for juveniles and honorably discharged veterans of the Armed Forces). Otherwise, you may have to pursue criminal record sealing – and even then, not all convictions are eligible. You can’t seal things like:
- Reckless driving
- Violation of an order of protection or no-contact order
- Soliciting or patronizing a prostitute
- Sex offenses
- Dog fighting or animal cruelty
Those things have to stay on your criminal record unless you’re able to get a pardon from the governor, which is fairly rare.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Expunging Arrest Records in Illinois?
If you’re ready to expunge your arrest records, call us at 847-920-4540 – we can help. We also offer a do-it-yourself expungement and sealing service in which you get access to an attorney for questions, all the forms and files you need to create your own petition, and detailed instructions on how to work your way through the process. Check out our free expungement e-book for more information.