If you’re like many people, you want to know how to seal your criminal record in Chicago – but you aren’t quite sure where to start. For many people, the best solution is to work with a Chicago criminal record sealing attorney.
How to Seal Your Criminal Record in Chicago
The first step in sealing a criminal record is to get a copy of your entire criminal history. You need a complete history – and if you’re having a hard time getting it, you may want to ask your attorney for a criminal background check.
After you have your complete criminal history, your attorney will:
- Review your records and determine whether you’re eligible for sealing, or whether some records qualify for expungement
- Fill out your petition to seal your criminal record
- Pay the filing fee and file the petition
- Wait for your petition to work its way through the court system
Here’s a closer look at each.
Step 1 in How to Seal Your Criminal Record: Review Your History and Determine Whether You’re Eligible
Not all crimes are eligible for sealing in the state of Illinois. In fact, some things have to remain on your record, no matter how long it’s been since you committed the offense. You cannot seal:
- Any crime that requires registration under the Sex Offender Registration Act
- Any misdemeanor listed under Article 11 of the Criminal Code (mostly sex offenses)
- Any violation of an order of protection, a civil no-contact order or a stalking no-contact order
- Class A misdemeanors under the Humane Care for Animals Act
- Dog fighting
- Domestic battery
- Driving under the influence
- Felony public indecency
- Reckless driving, unless you were under 25 at the time of the offense and you don’t have any other convictions for reckless driving or driving under the influence
- Soliciting or patronizing a prostitute
Related: List of crimes you can seal in Illinois
If you have eligible offenses on your record, your attorney will proceed to the next step.
Step 2 in How to Seal Your Criminal Record: Fill Out Your Petition
Different jurisdictions in Illinois have different forms you must fill out and file, so your attorney will choose the right paperwork. He’ll then fill out your forms with information you’ve provided. If you need to include supporting documentation, your attorney will ask you for it. He’ll then complete your packet and take the next step.
Related: Seal your own criminal record anywhere in Illinois
Step 2 in How to Seal Your Criminal Record: Pay the Filing Fee and File the Petition
Your attorney will file your petition with the court in the right jurisdiction. You don’t have to be present for your attorney to file your criminal record sealing petition. Generally, your attorney will need to go to the courthouse in the county where you were arrested or charged with the offense. He’ll also need to provide the court with several copies of your petition and supporting documentation. The Circuit Court Clerk will stamp the additional copies and file the original form. From there, Step 4 is initiated.
Step 3 in How to Seal Your Criminal Record: Wait for the Judge to Make a Decision
After your petition is filed, it makes its way through the judicial system. Several people have the chance to object to your petition, including the state’s attorney. If someone objects to your sealing petition, you may be entitled to a hearing. Your attorney will represent you at that hearing. In any case, your petition will continue on to the judge with the state’s attorney’s recommendation attached; the state’s attorney can object or pass it along with no objections.
The judge will receive your petition, review your information and your supporting documentations, and any objections that come along with it. He or she will then make a decision in your case.
If the judge agrees to seal your record, copies of his or her order will go to all the agencies that have your record on file.
How Long Does it Take to Seal a Criminal Record in Illinois?
It can take several months for your petition to work its way through the system. You won’t receive a decision immediately – but when the judge does decide, your attorney will let you know.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About How to Seal Your Criminal Record?
If you need to talk to an attorney about how to seal your criminal record, we’re here to help. Call us at 847-920-4540 for a free case review