Chicago Criminal Expungements Blog

Monday, November 9, 2015

What's the Difference Between Expungement and Sealing?

If you’re like most people whose past criminal records are holding them back, you’re probably wondering what you can do to get the fresh start you deserve – and you’ve probably heard about expungement and sealing under Illinois law.

But what’s the difference between expunging and sealing a record in Illinois, and are you eligible to do either?

The Differences Between Expunging and Sealing

Expungement and sealing are two different ways to achieve similar results. The idea behind both is that you can remove or conceal parts of your criminal record from the general public.

However, each has different requirements. Further, different people can see different parts of your criminal history, depending on whether you expunge or seal your records.

Expungement in Illinois

A criminal record expungement completely erases some things from your record, which may include:

  • Arrests
  • Court supervisions
  • Certain probations

However, you have to be eligible for expungement in Illinois; not everyone is. People who are not eligible for expungement may still be eligible for sealing.

Sealing in Illinois

In the state of Illinois, you may be able to seal some or all of your criminal record. Unlike expungement, sealing doesn’t erase your records – but it does hide them from most of the public. Law enforcement agencies and the military can still see your sealed record, and employers who are required by law to conduct background checks will still be able to view your sealed felony convictions.

In some cases, even Class 3 and Class 4 felonies can be sealed from public view.

What You Need for Expungement or Sealing

If you want to expunge or seal your criminal record, your lawyer will need your entire criminal history. In some cases, it’s best to ask your attorney to conduct a complete criminal background check.

Once you have your entire criminal history, your lawyer will be able to determine whether you’re eligible for expungement or sealing. You may have to go before the court (depending on your jurisdiction) before your criminal record can be cleared. If the state’s attorney objects, your lawyer will argue on your behalf.

Need Help with Expungement or Sealing in Chicago, Skokie, Rolling Meadows or Schaumburg?

If you need help getting your criminal record expunged or sealed in Chicago or the surrounding communities, call us at 847-920-4540 or get in touch with us online. If you qualify for either type of criminal record clearing, we’ll be able to help you get the fresh start you deserve.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Can You Seal Class 3 or Class 4 Felonies in Chicago, Illinois?

If you are like many people have been convicted of a Class 3 or Class 4 felony, you may be wondering whether you qualify to have your criminal records sealed from public view.

The good news is that certain Class 3 and Class 4 felonies are eligible for criminal record sealing. However, every case is different – and that means it’s a good idea to talk to a Chicago expungement and sealing attorney who can evaluate your situation and point you in the right direction.

Which Class 3 and Class 4 Felonies Can Be Sealed Through the Court?

A number of felonies can be sealed through the court system. Others may be sealable through the Prison Review Board, so it’s a good idea to ask your lawyer whether your convictions are eligible.

Some of the Class 3 and Class 4 felonies eligible for sealing through the court system include:

  • Deceptive practices
  • Forgery
  • Possession of burglary tools
  • Possession of a controlled substance
  • Possession with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance
  • Prostitution
  • Retail theft
  • Theft

The Illinois Background Check

In order to have an accurate picture of your entire criminal record, which can affect your ability to get certain convictions sealed, your attorney will probably need to conduct an Illinois criminal background check for you. Naturally, you are welcome to get your own records. However, the process can be time consuming and require you to travel through different jurisdictions to obtain your records.

Do You Want Your Criminal Record Sealed?

It’s no secret that employers, landlords and others look at criminal records and make judgments about who you are as a person – even if your criminal record is old and contains things that you did when you were little more than a child.

If you’d like more information about sealing your criminal record in Chicago, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg or Skokie, call us at 847-920-4540 or get in touch with us online. We may be able to help you get the fresh start you deserve.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Can You Join the Military With a Criminal Record?

If you’re like many people who are considering joining the military, you’re wondering whether you can join the military with a criminal record.

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for this question, but here’s what you need to know.

Joining the Military With a Criminal Record

The military requires recruits to have what they call a “high moral character,” but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get in if you have some type of record. In fact, the military sometimes grants waivers to people with existing criminal records. That said, it may be a good idea to have your arrest record expunged if you intend to join the military.

What Expungement Means

If your record is expunged, it no longer exists. You will still need to tell your military recruiter that you have been arrested in the past – it’s illegal to lie to gain enlistment into the military – but in the absence of a criminal record, you won’t need a waiver to get in.

How to Get Your Record Expunged to Join the Military

Not all criminal records are eligible for expungement. However, if yours is, you may want to talk to an expungement lawyer in Chicago who understands how the laws work and how to begin the expungement process.

Your lawyer needs your entire criminal record to get started. He will file a petition with the court to have your criminal record cleared, and if the state’s attorney objects, you’ll most likely have the opportunity to tell your site of the story in court through a hearing. Your lawyer can represent you at that hearing and argue your case.

Are You Trying to Join the Military With an Arrest Record Behind You?

If you are trying to join the military and you have an arrest record, we may be able to help you clear it to make the process easier.

Call us at 847-920-4540 or get in touch with us online to find out whether you are eligible for an expungement that may help you join the military.


Monday, September 28, 2015

How to Expunge a Criminal Record (It May Not Be As Easy As You Think)

If you’re like many people in Chicago, you’re wondering how to expunge a criminal record. Unfortunately, it may not be as easy as you think.

How to Expunge a Criminal Record

Many people choose to work with a criminal record clearing attorney who serves Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, because expunging a criminal record can be a long, difficult process.

The first thing you need to do if you would like to expunge a criminal record is to determine whether you are eligible. Although many records are eligible for expungement and sealing, many are not – and often, convictions can preclude you from applying for expungement.

Between you and your attorney, you will need to obtain your entire criminal background report. It’s important to know that if you have ever been arrested, you have a record.

If the court in your county requires a hearing, your lawyer can represent you there. Simply applying for expungement does not guarantee that it will happen. In fact, the state’s attorney may object to your petition. If he or she does so, you are entitled to a hearing before a judge. Again, your lawyer can represent you in court to argue your case.

In some cases, an expungement petition takes a significant amount of time to make its way through the court system.

Because not everyone is eligible for expungement, many people choose to have their records sealed instead.

Criminal Record Sealing

Unlike expungement, sealing a criminal record does not make it disappear. However, it does prevent many people from being able to view it.

Because landlords, employers and a number of other people are typically able to see arrest records because they are public record, it may be a good idea to try to expunge or seal yours.

Talk to a Chicago Expungement Lawyer to Find Out How to Expunge Your Criminal Record Today

Call us at 847-920-4540 or get in touch with us online to find out how we can help you expunge or seal your criminal record and get the fresh start you deserve.

Monday, September 14, 2015

4 Reasons to Have Your Criminal Record Expunged in Illinois

Many people in Chicago and the surrounding communities find that having a criminal record holds than back from doing the things they want to do and if you’re one of those people, a criminal record expungement may be the right choice for you.

If you’re eligible, a criminal record expungement can give you a fresh start.

4 Reasons to Have Your Criminal Record Expunged

There are many reasons you may choose to have your criminal record expunged, but some of the most common involve the negative repercussions of having a "rap sheet." 

1. Insurance, Loans and Other Financial Reasons

In many cases, lenders and insurance companies are allowed to conduct criminal background checks. Unfortunately, this can translate into higher premiums and higher interest rates for you.

2. Housing Problems

Landlords often run criminal background checks because it is their responsibility to ensure that their Other tenants are safe. If a landlord feels that you may pose a risk to other tenants, even if you’ve never been convicted of a crime, he or she may choose not to rent to you.

3. Employability Issues

In some professional fields, people who have been charged with a crime may have difficulty finding and keeping a job. Further, some organizations may not let you volunteer for them if you’ve ever been arrested… even if you were never convicted of a crime.

4. Denial of Education and Educational Benefits

Some colleges and universities expel students who have criminal records. You may also be ineligible for financial aid – and with today’s college costs, that can put an end to your educational career.

Are You Eligible for Expungement?

Not everyone is eligible for expungement. Your Chicago expungement attorney can help you determine whether you meet Illinois’ criteria for criminal record clearing by conducting a thorough background check.

If you are eligible for expungement, your lawyer will be able to file the appropriate paperwork. If the state’s attorney objects to your expungement, your lawyer will be able to argue on your behalf.

Do You Need A Fresh Start?

If you’re having trouble finding housing, employment or other things you need because of your criminal record, a Chicago expungement lawyer may be able to help.

Call us at 847-920-4540 or contact us online. If you are eligible, we can help you move forward with your life.


Friday, August 28, 2015

How to Get a DUI Off Your Record in Illinois

In the state of Illinois, you can get a DUI arrest off your criminal record.

However, that only means you can expunge the arrest – and you’re only allowed to expunge a DUI arrest if you weren’t convicted of drinking and driving.

How to Expunge a DUI Arrest in Chicago, IL

Most people find that it’s best to work with an expungement lawyer to have a DUI arrest expunged from their records.

You need to know, though, that not everyone qualifies for expungement. (You can find out whether you might be eligible for expungement here.)

If you want to expunge a DUI arrest in Chicago, Skokie, Rolling Meadows or Schaumburg, you’ll need to gather specific information for your attorney, including your complete Illinois police record. If you can’t find all the information you need, we may be able to find it for you.

We will need:

  • Your original charges
  • Records showing that your case was dismissed or you were found “Not Guilty”
  • Your case numbers and any court records you have

Remember, you can only expunge a DUI arrest if you were never convicted of drunk driving. Otherwise, you’ll have to explore other avenues toward clearing your record.

Can You Expunge a DUI Conviction?

You can’t expunge DUI convictions in Illinois. The only exception is if you get a pardon from the governor.

Although you can’t expunge a DUI conviction, you can help yourself by earning a Certificate of Good Conduct or a Certificate of Relief from Disability.

Why Should You Expunge a DUI Arrest?

Employers, landlords and a number of other interested parties may be able to see your criminal record and find out that you were arrested for DUI. They may not understand that an arrest is not the same as a conviction – and leaving that arrest on your record could have negative consequences that can affect the rest of your life.

If you want a DUI arrest off your criminal record, it can’t hurt to find out whether you’re eligible. Call us at 847-920-4540 or contact us online.

We can help you get a fresh start.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Can You Expunge Sex Offenses in Illinois?

Many people want to know if you can expunge sex offenses in Illinois. The answer is a little bit complex – and you won’t be able to figure out whether you can expunge a sex crime unless you understand what counts as a sex crime (and which people it applies to) in Chicago and the rest of the state.

What is a Sex Crime in Illinois?

A sex crime is a crime that involves sexual misconduct, including assault, unlawful sexual behavior or illegal pornography. Sex crimes also include statutory rape (even if you were under the age of consent at the time).

If the state convicts you of a sex crime, you’ll be considered a sex offender.

Can Sex Crimes Be Expunged in Chicago?

Illinois law is very clear about expunging sex crimes from your record. For the most part, it’s not possible to expunge a sex crime conviction – but there are some exceptions to the rule.

The exceptions include juvenile incidents that would not be felonies if an adult committed them. In those cases, you must be able to answer “Yes” to the following questions:

  • Are you 21 years old or older?
  • Has it been 5 years or longer since your last juvenile court proceeding?
  • Has it been 5 years or longer since your commitment to the Department of Juvenile Justice has ended?
  • Have you had a clean record (with no convictions for any crime) since you turned 18?

Even then, there are no guarantees that you can expunge a sex crime from your record.

Anyone who has been convicted of a sex crime that requires registration under the Sex Offender Registration Act cannot expunge or seal a record, even if the crime was a misdemeanor. Also, soliciting a sexual act or patronizing a prostitute can neither be expunged nor sealed.

Adults typically cannot expunge or seal any sex crimes from their criminal records. For the most part, you can’t expunge convictions; you can only clean up your record if you have been arrested but not convicted.

What Does the Sex Offender Registration Act Say?

The Illinois Sex Offender Registration Act outlines the people who must register as sex offenders. It includes people who have been:

  • Convicted of a sex crime
  • Found “not guilty” of a sex crime by reason of insanity
  • The subject of a finding that doesn’t result in acquittal
  • Declared as a “sexually dangerous person”
  • Found to be a sexually violent person

Because every case is different, it’s best to talk to an expungement lawyer in Chicago who can evaluate your situation and let you know whether you may be able to clear your criminal record through expungement or sealing.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Can You Expunge a Juvenile Record in Illinois?

Having a juvenile record can prevent you from getting certain jobs – particularly those in regulated fields, such as nursing or law enforcement. Although juvenile records aren’t supposed to be available to the general public, sometimes they’re accidentally shared with potential employers.

The only real way to make sure nobody can find out about your juvenile record is to have it expunged. However, the military, some law enforcement agencies and the Department of Corrections can still access juvenile records if you apply for work with them, even after expungement.

Who Qualifies for Expungement of Juvenile Records in Chicago?

You can’t apply for expungement until you turn 18, but the good news is that there’s no upper age limit to apply. In some cases, your juvenile record will automatically disappear; this can happen if no petition for delinquency was filed and at least 6 months have passed since your arrest without another arrest or charge when you have turned 18 within the last calendar year.

You can only ask the state of Illinois to expunge certain parts of a juvenile record, including:

  • Arrests when you were not charged with a crime
  • Dismissals
  • Juvenile convictions for “lesser crimes,” such as Class B and Class C misdemeanors
  • “Not guilty” verdicts
  • Sentences of supervision

If you were convicted of a felony or a Class A misdemeanor as a juvenile, you can only ask for expungement if you are over 21, 5 years have passed since your sentence ended, and you have no criminal convictions as an adult.

You can also find out if you qualify for an expungement before you call an expungement lawyer for help.

Keep in mind that just because you were a minor at the time of your arrest or conviction, some things will not count as juvenile records.

You’ll have an adult record, not a juvenile record, if:

  • You were arrested after you turned 18
  • You were arrested for a felony after your 17th birthday and that arrest was before the year 2014
  • You were arrested over a traffic offense, such as driving under the influence
  • You were charged as an adult at any time while you were a minor (in this case, you may still be eligible for expungement; your attorney will just need to file different paperwork)

Some records can never be expunged, including convictions of:

  • First-degree murder
  • Sexual offenses that would be a felony if they had been committed by an adult
  • Class A misdemeanors or felonies if you have been convicted as an adult

How to Expunge a Juvenile Record

If you talk to a Chicago expungement lawyer, he’ll ask you for whatever supporting documentation you have. This can include:

  • The name of the agency that arrested you
  • The date of your arrest
  • What you were charged with
  • Your case’s disposition (dismissal, adjudicated delinquent or adjudicated not delinquent)
  • Your final charge
  • The date that your probation ended, your case was dismissed or that you were adjudicated not delinquent

It’s important to note that while many people can seal adult criminal records that cannot be expunged, you can’t seal juvenile records because they are already private.

Your attorney will be able to petition for an expungement on your behalf. If the state objects to expunging your record, you will be allowed to argue your case – and your attorney can do that for you, as well.


Friday, July 17, 2015

Can Landlords See Criminal Records in Illinois?

If you’re looking for a place to live in or around Chicago and you have a rap sheet, you might want to think about having your criminal record expunged or sealed.

That’s because landlords are allowed to pull up your criminal background when they’re considering potential renters – and they’re legally allowed to tell you that you can’t rent from them. If you’re applying for Chicago public housing through the Chicago Housing Authority, they’ll definitely check your criminal background.

What to Do to Clear Your Record Before Renting

According to the Illinois Housing Empowerment Handbook, landlords can request all kinds of information on you if you fill out a rental application. Know that if you provide your Social Security number, they’re probably going to check your credit and your criminal history.

The Housing Empowerment Handbook says, “If you have ever been arrested, especially if you were not guilty, consider expungement or sealing of your records. Expungement will erase the charge, as if the charge never happened. Sealing a record will keep it confidential. Persons who have their record expunged may be more successful searching for housing and employment.”

If you’re thinking about the benefits of clearing your record, find out if you’re eligible for expungement. Even if you aren’t, you may be able to have your criminal records sealed.

For many people, it’s easier to work with a Chicago expungement attorney who understands Illinois law and what it takes to clear up a criminal record.

The good news is that if you can get your criminal record cleared, a potential landlord won’t be able to turn you down based on your past. Keep in mind that landlords will still check your credit history and your rental history, and they’ll be able to see if you’ve been evicted before as well.

Do You Need to Clear Your Criminal Record in Illinois?

Call us at 847-920-4540 or contact us online so we can help. Everyone deserves a fresh start – and we’ll do what we can to put yours within your reach.

Friday, July 3, 2015

How Can Employers Use Your Criminal History Against You?

We’ve all heard of potential employers scouring through social media profiles to find out more about the people they may hire, but what about criminal records? Just how much can a potential employer learn about you – and what can they use against you?

How Can Employers Use Your Criminal History Against You in Illinois?

About 65 million Americans have criminal records, and statistics show that about 92 percent of employers actually conduct criminal background checks for some positions within their ranks. That means it could be tough to compete for a job… particularly in this economy.

Illinois law clearly states that employers can’t ask about criminal records that have been sealed or expunged. They can’t ask about arrests, either, and even if they know about an arrest, employers cannot use it to decide whether they’ll hire you.

They can request your permission to conduct a criminal background check, though, under these conditions:

  • You must give written consent to a background check
  • The employer must tell you if they will disqualify you based on what comes back in the criminal background check – and they must also give you a copy of the report
  • The employer must notify you after they decide not to hire you based on information that was in your criminal history

Employers can check your record, but only with your consent. Further, they can decline to offer you a position based on what’s in your criminal record. However, there’s more to it.

Before an employer decides not to hire you, they are supposed to consider:

  • How serious the crime was
  • How long ago the crime occurred
  • Whether the job and your past crime are incompatible

If you have a criminal record and you’re having a tough time getting a job, it might be a good idea to see if you qualify for an expungement under Illinois law. If you don’t, you may still qualify to have your record sealed. A Chicago sealing and expungement lawyer may be able to help you leave the past behind and move forward with your life.

Friday, June 19, 2015

What to Ask Your Chicago Expungement Lawyer

If you’re like most people who are interested in getting a Chicago criminal record expunged, you might find that it’s easiest to work with an attorney who already knows the ropes and who’s done it successfully for other people.

But where do you even begin?

What to Ask Your Chicago Expungement Lawyer

You can always ask your attorney anything – he’ll be more than happy to use his in-depth knowledge of Illinois law to help you.

When it comes to expungement, though, there are a few things you should ask your lawyer so you know what to expect throughout the process.

1. Where will you get my criminal record?

You may already have copies; maybe you tried Illinois criminal record clearing before or you had the foresight to get your records on your own. If you don’t have your criminal record, your attorney can usually get it for you.

2. Does my record qualify for expungement?

Not all records do qualify for expungement, but the good news is that many qualify for criminal record sealing in Illinois.

3. How long does the expungement process take in Cook County?

While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, your lawyer will be able to determine how long your case will probably take. It depends on the location, the breadth of your case and the courts’ current schedules. You’ll also have to wait for the clerk of court to process your paperwork; there are some other variables, as well.

Would You Like to Clear Your Criminal Record in Chicago?

Check out our quick questionnaire, “Am I Eligible for Expungement?” to get a head start on the expungement or sealing process. If you may be eligible, call us at 847-920-4540 so we can get started on processing your case. The sooner we petition the court for expungement or sealing, the sooner they can approve it… and the sooner you can get the fresh start that you deserve.


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