When To Pursue Sealing And Expungement Of Your Criminal Record
There are many very good reasons to seek the sealing or expungement of your criminal record. It is always in your best interest to understand your options and make informed decisions. The legal team at Shifrin Law Group in Chicago can help you obtain the information and provide the legal support you need to seal or expunge your Illinois record.
Understanding The Expungement And Sealing Process
In Illinois, criminal records can be expunged or sealed under certain conditions. Your record can be “expunged” or erased if you were arrested but never convicted of a crime. If you were convicted, your records may be “sealed,” meaning they are kept confidential from the general public. Expungement is the best option because the record is permanently destroyed. However, if you’ve been convicted and don’t qualify for expungement, you may qualify for sealing.
- When your record is expunged, it is physically destroyed and removed from all databases, where it can never be accessed again. It will be as if the record was never there to begin with.
- When your record is sealed, it is not accessible to the public in any manner, but it is not erased altogether. The only people that may view it are law enforcement officials and judges.
For more details, visit the Illinois Government’s worksheet here.
The Expungement Process
The process to expunge and seal your criminal records in Illinois are nearly identical. The following steps need to be taken in order to expunge and/or seal a criminal record:
- The first step you need to take is to get a copy of your criminal record. Your criminal record will list the offenses you were arrested and/or charged with and will show the outcome of the offense. This information is important to find out if your offense can be expunged or sealed. You can get copies of your criminal record from the Illinois State Police, the Circuit Clerk (unless you were charged in Cook County) or the Chicago Police Department.
- Once you have a copy of your criminal record and disposition(s) of the charge(s), you need to review your criminal records to see if you can expunge and/or seal your records. This can be done by completing the Illinois Government’s worksheet listed above.
- After you review your criminal record and determine your eligibility for expungement and/or sealing, the next step is to fill out the Request to Expunge & Impound and/or Seal Criminal Records form. The form can be found here.
- After you fill out the proper form, you file the form with the Circuit Clerk in the county where you were arrested or charged with the offense and pay a filing fee.
- The Circuit Clerk will then serve notice of the petition to the State’s Attorney who prosecuted the offense, the Department of State Police, the arresting agency and the chief legal office of the local government who made the arrest. These agencies have the right to object to the petition within 60 days.
- A judge will then either set a hearing date or may simply enter an order granting the petition if there are no objections.
What if I have multiple cases?
- Petitions for expungement/sealing must be filed for each individual case number, so if there are multiple cases they may need to be filed separately if they are from different jurisdictions.
What does the process entail/what do I need to do?
- We will file a petition to expunge/seal with the Court. Typically, the process takes about 6-12 months. If the judge grants the petition for expungement, you will receive an order confirming your record has been expunged.
My record has been expunged, but my mug shot is still online. Is this legal? What can I do?
- If your mug shot was already available online prior to expungement, it may still be posted online. We can contact the website directly, demanding them to take it down and providing them a copy of the order to expunge signed by the Judge. In Illinois, it is illegal for these types of websites to charge a fee for removal of a mug shot, but not to have them out there.
Call or email our team if you have been arrested, charged or convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony offense. An experienced criminal defense attorney will analyze your case and determine the expungement/sealing options available for your record.
Work With The Experienced Team
We are experienced in filing petitions to expunge and/or seal criminal records and can simplify the process for you. Let us help you get your life back. Call for a free consultation about how we can help: 312-766-4223. You can reach our Chicago team or ask a question using our online contact form. Our founding attorney speaks fluent Russian, making us capable of serving you in either the English or Russian language.