If You Expunge Your Record, Do You Have to Tell Anyone You Used to Have One?

We all make mistakes. But for those with a criminal record, those mistakes can become a looming shadow, affecting various aspects of life long after paying one’s dues. However, there’s hope. In the state of Illinois, people have the option to expunge or seal their criminal record. But after taking that step, a crucial question arises: if you expunge your record, do you have to tell anyone about your past? Let’s dive in.

If You Expunge Your Record, Do You Have to Tell Anyone You Used to Have One?

This guide explains the following:

  • Legal implications after expungement
  • Job applications and employment
  • Housing and leasing implications
  • Personal relationships and societal views
  • Understanding your rights

Here’s a closer look at each.

Legal Implications After Expungement

When your record is expunged in Illinois, it’s akin to turning back the clock on that specific incident. Legally speaking, the crime is treated as if it never occurred. The documents associated with your case are destroyed or returned to you. This distinction is powerful; it’s more than just “forgiving” the crime – it’s erasing it from your legal history. While the practical implications of this are numerous, the primary benefit is that you gain back the legal innocence you had prior to the conviction. It means that, in most situations, you’re not under any legal obligation to disclose your once-existent criminal record, providing a genuine fresh start.

Job Applications and Employment

In today’s competitive job market, every edge counts. With a criminal record, even if you’re the most qualified candidate, there’s a chance employers might pass over your application due to reservations about your past. Illinois recognizes this challenge and, post-expungement, offers a level playing field. Employers in the state, with a few exceptions (like certain government agencies), can’t ask about or consider expunged or sealed records during the hiring process. This gives you the confidence to pursue any job opportunity without the looming shadow of past mistakes, and to answer background check queries without hesitation.

Housing and Leasing Implications

Your living situation is foundational to your life, from the neighborhood you reside in to the comforts of your home. Landlords, aiming to protect their property and ensure the safety of their tenants, often run background checks on potential renters. With an expunged record, this search yields a clean slate. In the eyes of property managers and landlords, you’re no different from someone who’s never had any brush with the law. This significantly broadens your housing options and removes potential barriers to living in preferred locations or housing complexes.

Personal Relationships and Societal Views

The societal stigma of a criminal record often runs deeper than any legal restriction. Personal relationships, from budding romances to new friendships, can be strained when there’s a known criminal past. After expungement, you regain control over this narrative. There’s no need to divulge past mistakes in new relationships, allowing them to grow organically without preconceived notions. It also eliminates awkward or challenging conversations in social situations or community gatherings, allowing you to engage more freely and authentically.

Understanding Your Rights

The beauty of expungement lies in the restoration of your rights and privileges as if the crime never occurred. But these restored rights are only as useful as your understanding of them. It’s essential to be informed about what expungement truly means. If anyone, be it a private investigator, a curious neighbor, or a potential employer, tries to dig into your past, they’re met with a blank slate. However, it’s also vital to recognize the few situations where the expunged record might still be relevant, such as certain advanced background checks for high-security jobs. Being equipped with this knowledge ensures you’re always in control and can advocate for yourself if your rights are ever challenged.

FAQ About Criminal Records, Expungement and Sealing

Check out these commonly asked questions about expunging your record and its implications. If you don’t see the answers here, please call our office and we’ll get you the information you need.

Can a Sealed Record Be Accessed by Anyone?

While expunged records are erased, sealed records are simply hidden from public view. Law enforcement and certain agencies can still access them.

What’s the Primary Difference Between Expungement and Sealing?

Expungement erases the record completely, while sealing hides it from most public searches.

If I Move Out of Illinois, Is My Record Still Expunged?

Your record is expunged in Illinois, but you should check the regulations of the state you’re moving to and how they treat out-of-state expungements.

Can Every Crime Be Expunged?

No, certain crimes, especially violent ones, might not be eligible for expungement. Consult with a knowledgeable lawyer to understand your specific situation.

How Long Should I Wait to Apply for Expungement in Illinois?

The waiting period varies based on the offense and whether there was a conviction. Typically, it ranges from immediately after the resolution to a few years.

Understanding the benefits of expungement can offer you the fresh start you’ve been looking for. And knowing you don’t have to disclose an expunged record allows you to confidently move forward in life. If you’re considering this path, seeking legal guidance is your best bet to navigate the process smoothly.

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.

Need Help? Reach Out Now.

"*" indicates required fields