If you’re like many people in Illinois, you have a criminal record – but you may not even know it. So when is a criminal record created in Illinois, and what goes on it?
Here’s what you need to know.
When is Your Criminal Record Created in Illinois?
Your criminal record starts the minute you’re arrested or charged with an offense. Even if you’re released without being charged, or even if you’re found “not guilty” of the charges in court, you’ll have a criminal record.
Who Can See a Public Criminal Record?
Anyone who conducts a background check on you or searches for your criminal case online can see your public criminal record. That includes employers, people you’re dating, landlords and even creditors.
Once I Have a Criminal Record, Do I Have it Forever?
After you establish a criminal record, it’ll most likely be there forever – unless you do something about it. You could qualify for expungement or sealing, which helps prevent the public (or anyone at all, in some cases) from seeing it.
What is Expungement?
Expungement erases your criminal record completely. If you ask a judge to expunge your record and he or she agrees, your records are destroyed or returned to you. You can say you’ve never been arrested or convicted of a crime, and nobody will ever see that you had a criminal record.
What is Sealing?
Sealing is a lot like expungement, but your records still exist – and some groups of people can still see them. Law enforcement professionals, court officials, and some employers (such as those that run FBI background checks on employees, including the military and some healthcare employers) will be able to access your records. However, they won’t show up in regular background checks, like those a regular employer, landlord or creditor might run.
How Do I Know if I Can Clear My Criminal Record With Expungement or Sealing?
Many people are eligible to expunge or seal their criminal records. Some things, like arrests that never resulted in charges, can come off your record right away (after you file a petition with the court and it’s approved, that is). You can learn more about what records qualify for expungement and sealing in our free ebook, The Complete Guide to Expungement and Sealing in Illinois.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Your Criminal Record?
If you’d like to speak with an attorney about your criminal record, we’re here. Call us at 847-920-4540 for a free case review. We can tell you whether you might qualify for expungement or sealing – and then we can help you make it happen.
There are some criminal records you can seal immediately in Illinois – you don’t have to wait until a waiting period expires. Here’s what you need to know about which criminal records you can seal immediately.
Related: How long do I have to wait to seal criminal records in Illinois?
What Criminal Records Can You Seal Immediately in Illinois?
There is no waiting period to file a petition to seal