Clearing and Sealing Your Criminal RecordThe effects of a felony or misdemeanor charge last long after your case has been closed. You may have moved on after criminal charges have been dropped or you were found “Not Guilty,” but the arrest remains in your criminal history unless your arrest record is removed from the public record. Under Illinois law, certain arrests, supervision and convictions may be either expunged or sealed. If you have never been convicted of a criminal offense,municipal ordinance violation, or Class A or B traffic offense, you are eligible for expungement. If you have been convicted of a criminal offense, municipal ordinance violation, or Class A or B traffic offense, you are not eligible for expungement. However, your criminal record may still be eligible for sealing.
Sealing … Expungement, What’s the difference?Expungement removes a conviction from your criminal record. Sealing bars access to particular records in the absence of a court order. With the exception of law enforcement agencies, the Department of Corrections, State’s Attorneys and other prosecutors, an expunged or sealed record may not be accessed by any private or public entity in employment matters, certification, licensing, revocation of certification or licensure, or registration. Additionally, employers may not ask if an applicant has had records expunged or sealed and sealed records are exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.
Expunging Your RecordPetitioning a court for an expungement is the only way to completely remove a conviction from your criminal record. When a record is expunged, each law enforcement agency destroys the records. The record of the arrest or conviction will be removed from the official records of the arresting police agency, the Illinois State Police, and the Circuit Clerk of the county in which your case was brought. Therefore, when your record is expunged you will not have to disclose prior arrests or convictions because they are no longer a part of the public record. An expungement is available only where the final outcome of a case or “disposition,” is something other than a conviction. Qualifying dispositions can include:
- Court supervision,
- The dismissal of the charge(s) prior to trial for want of prosecution- nolle prosequi;
- A charge(s) stricken with leave to reinstate-SOL;
- Finding of no probable cause;
- An arrest where no charge(s) were filed;
- An acquittal or not guilty finding after trial; and
- Successful completion of special first offender drug probation or TASC probation.
Sealing Your RecordSome criminal records cannot be expunged. However, they may be sealed through a court procedure. When your record is sealed, non-law enforcement entities and individuals are prevented from accessing your criminal record. The types of records that can be sealed include:
- Felony convictions for felony prostitution;
- Certain Class 4 felony convictions under the Cannabis Control Act, Controlled Substances Act, or the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act;
- Municipal ordinance and misdemeanor convictions, except for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol convictions, Adultery, Fornication, Public Indecency, Bigamy, Obscenity, crimes of violence including Assault, Battery, Domestic Battery, Criminal Sexual Abuse, Reckless Conduct, Violation of an Order of Protection, or Violation of the Humane Care for Animals Act;
- An offense that would subject a person to registration under the Sex Offender Registration Act; and
- Cases that were dismissed after a disposition of court supervision, but expungement is not available of a previous conviction in another case.