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New Illinois Law Makes More Individuals Eligible for Expungement and Record Sealing

Rolling Meadows Criminal Defense Lawyer

In 2017, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 2373 into law, amending the Criminal Identification Act to make more types of arrests and convictions eligible for expungement and record sealing. By doing this, the state legislature made it possible for more Illinois residents to effectively "clear their names" by clearing their criminal records or concealing them from public scrutiny. This will make it easier for these individuals to secure jobs and housing and maintain positive social and professional reputations by removing their convictions and the stigmas they carry.

Governor Rauner also signed House Bill 3817 into law, ensuring that all juvenile arrests that do not result in adjudications of delinquency are automatically expunged once a specified period of time passes after the arrest. This bill also limits the public's access to juvenile criminal records.

When an individual has his or her criminal record expunged or sealed, the record is removed from public searches. Unless an individual seeks an expungement or sealing, every conviction on his or her record remains there indefinitely.

Expungement Versus Record Sealing

Having a criminal record expunged and having it sealed are not the same thing. When an arrest is expunged from an individual's criminal record, it is erased from the record. A sealed record, on the other hand, still exists, but it can only be accessed by law enforcement, the court, and select employers. Sealed records may only be accessed through a court order.

In Illinois, an arrest that did not result in a conviction may be expunged from an individual's record. If the arrest did result in a conviction, the record may be sealed, depending on the nature of the conviction. There are a few exceptions to this rule, however. If an individual's conviction is reversed, he or she may have it expunged from his or her record. An individual who is pardoned by the governor may also expunge his or her conviction.

Which Convictions May Be Sealed? Which Arrests May Be Expunged?

Most types of arrest may be expunged from an individual's record if it did not result in his or her conviction.

Certain arrests and charges cannot be expunged, regardless of whether the individual was convicted. These include:

Records of many types of conviction can be sealed, but not all. Convictions that cannot be sealed include:

Getting your Record Sealed or Expunged

Once you have started working with an experienced lawyer and determined that you are eligible for an expungement or a sealing, take the following steps to complete the process:

  • Gather all relevant documents. These include documents from your original hearing and your charge. Be sure to have your case number, the date of arrest, the charges, the outcome of your trial, and documentation demonstrating the completion of your sentence, if you were convicted. Your lawyer can help you gather these documents if you do not have them.
  • Fill out a Request to Expunge & Impound And/Or Seal Criminal Records form. Follow the instructions listed for an expungement or a record sealing, depending on your eligibility.
  • File the form with the Circuit Clerk in the county where your case was originally handled. The court will give you the information you need about your court fee and when to expect your court date to be scheduled.
  • If you are asked to appear in court, work with your lawyer to prepare for court. This includes gathering all necessary documents and preparing to discuss your case with the court.
  • Attend your court date. After presenting your case to the court, your request may be approved or denied. If it is denied, you may ask the court to reconsider your request. If your request is approved, the court will forward its Order of Expungement And/Or Sealing to all the police departments and prosecutors you listed on your original request form within 60 days. When you receive a letter from the Illinois State Police stating that your record has been expunged or sealed, the process is complete, and you can correctly tell employers and others that you do not have a criminal record.

The Benefits of Having your Criminal Record Expunged or Sealed

When you have an arrest or conviction expunged or sealed, you are not required to disclose it to prospective and current employers.

Being able to secure a job can improve your life in more ways than providing an income. In Illinois, approximately half of ex-offenders go back to prison within three years of being released, often because they cannot secure jobs to support themselves, leading them to return to criminal activity. According to a 2008 study by the Safer Foundation, an ex-offender's likelihood of reoffending significantly drops when he or she can secure a paying job.

Additionally, you may have your firearm rights restored upon having your record sealed or expunged.

For many people, there is a mental benefit to having a criminal record expunged or sealed. With a sealed or expunged record, you can honestly tell others that you do not have a criminal record, which can help you feel like you have a "blank slate" and a renewed reputation moving forward.

Work with an Experienced Rolling Meadows Expungement Attorney

Discuss your eligibility for an expungement or sealing with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to determine if you can move forward with the process. If so, your lawyer can help you gather the documents you need to complete the process and work with you and the court to remove your past arrests and convictions from the public record. To get started with an experienced Rolling Meadows expungement lawyer, contact the Law Offices of Donald J. Cosley today at 847-253-3100 to set up your initial consultation with us.

https://www2.illinois.gov/osad/Expungement/Instructions_Forms/Documents/Instructions/How To.pdf

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