What Felonies Can Be Sealed in Illinois?

What felonies can be sealed in Illinois? If you’re like most people, you’ve wondered the same thing – and although you know you’re not eligible for expungement, you could still be eligible for criminal record sealing.

Sealing means your record is hidden from the general public. If your record is sealed, it’ll still be available to law enforcement and people working in the court system, and it’ll be available to some employers (such as those that require fingerprint background checks).

But most people won’t ever be able to see it – and that includes landlords and most prospective employers.

A lot of criminal offenses are “sealable” in Illinois, and that includes some felonies.

What Felonies Can Be Sealed in Illinois?

First things first: There are some criminal records you can never seal in Illinois. It doesn’t matter who you are or whether your crime was a misdemeanor or felony, but you can never seal:

  • Sex offenses
  • Violent crimes
  • Domestic violence crimes (including assault, violation of an order of protection, domestic battery, aggravated battery, aggravated assault and aggravated domestic battery)
  • Gun crimes
  • Drunk driving crimes

Now that those are out of the way, what’s left?

Most people can seal a Class 3 or Class 4 felony that doesn’t fall into one of the above categories, provided it wasn’t a violent crime, a sex offense, a gun offense or a DUI offense.

How Do You Seal a Felony in Illinois?

If your offense qualifies, you can petition the court to seal your record 5 years from the date you completed your sentence or 5 years from the last arrest before you were eligible to file a petition.

If you were convicted of a drug offense that you want to seal, you’ll have to provide proof that you successfully created an approved drug program. That proof must accompany your petition.

For most people, the best way to get a felony sealed in Illinois is to work with a Chicago expungement and sealing lawyer. (You can also check out our DIY Chicago Expungement website if you’re interested in sealing your own criminal record – it only costs $299 and includes forms, video tutorials and detailed instructions every step of the way.)

Related: The Complete Guide to Criminal Record Expungement and Sealing in Illinois

Is Sealing Felonies Better Than Expungement?

For the most part, you can’t expunge a felony in Illinois. There are some exceptions – such as honorably discharged veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, who are eligible to expunge certain Class 3 and Class 4 felonies – but for most people with felonies, expungement isn’t even an option. So in that sense, yes, sealing is better than expungement.

Sealing provides many of the same benefits that expungement does. It hides your record from most people. Most landlords, lenders and creditors, and even employers won’t be able to see your record.

However, you do need to know that even if your record is sealed, some people will still be able to see it. Law enforcement (the police), people who work in the court system (like judges and other officials), and some employers (those that require fingerprint-based background checks) will still have access to your criminal record.

How Does the Felony Sealing Process Work in Illinois?

The process usually works like this:

  1. Your attorney files a sealing petition with the court where you were convicted. Your attorney will file supporting documentation, too. There is a filing fee.
  2. The state’s attorney will review your petition. The state’s attorney can agree or object. If the state’s attorney objects, you could be entitled to a hearing where your attorney can explain your side of the story.
  3. A judge will decide whether to seal your record.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About What Felonies Can Be Sealed in Illinois?

If you’re not sure whether your record qualifies, or if you’d like to get a fresh start by sealing your criminal record, we may be able to help you. Call us at 847-920-4540 right now for a free case review – or, if it’s easier, fill out the form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Remember, DIY sealing is also available, so if you’re looking to save money and still get your petition filed properly, that may be the right route for you.

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