Did You Know You’re Paying Not to Seal Your Illinois Criminal Record?
You’ve served your time and paid off fines for your crimes. Everything should go back to normal, right?
Not so much.
Even if you are only arrested, or if you are charged but acquitted on those charges, it creates a criminal record. A record that will follow you if you don’t take action.
Having a conviction on your record is especially hard because state and federal laws automatically ban you from holding certain positions, getting certain jobs, and even exercising basic rights.
These restrictions are costly in both a literal and figurative sense. Learn about these costs and what you can do to save yourself money through criminal record sealing.
How Having an Illinois Criminal Record Costs You Money
Loss of Income
Until your criminal record is sealed, it is visible to the public. This includes potential employers, landlords, and recruiting agencies. Trying to move up the pay scale with a new job title? Just trying to get any job? A criminal record is likely holding you back.
Additionally, there are some hard restrictions on felons regarding what industries they can work in and what positions they can hold. Even if you just have misdemeanor offenses on your record, a background check will reveal these mistakes to employers. When that happens, they’re far more likely to give the job to someone with a clean record.
Think of how much you could save if you had a job that paid more and offered more benefits. Keep your criminal record public, though, and that job – and money – will probably remain out of reach.
Inability to Get a Loan
There are other avenues to moving up in the world beyond employment. Pursuing higher education and starting your own business are just two examples of next steps many offenders try to take after serving time. But offenders with felony records encounter a massive roadblock at the bank.
A criminal record, especially one that contains drug crimes, severely limits your eligibility for getting a student or business loan.
It’s not easy to get a degree or start a business without financial assistance. The longer you keep your criminal record public, the longer it will take for you to find a lender who is willing to give you a chance.
There’s another reason why you might not be able to get a loan approved with your criminal record. Criminal and civil proceedings can send your credit score down the drain.
Unfortunately, everything is connected. As debts pile up because you can’t get a good job and you lose the ability to build up credit, your score will remain low.
Other Costs of Having a Criminal Record in Illinois
Of course, the costs of having a criminal record don’t just come down to dollars and cents.
Limited Housing Options
Bad credit, inability to get a loan, and a criminal record can make buying a house feel impossible. Even getting approved to rent an apartment can be hard with a criminal record. Landlords may decide to choose someone else who has a cleaner record, or they might outright bar you from signing a lease based on your past.
Reputations and Relationships
A lot of trust goes out the window when someone you know is arrested or charged with a crime. Your former colleagues, friends, and business partners may keep their distance.
While there are no laws or policies for who a felon can or can’t be friends with, your record may loom over you. Taking the steps to get your record expunged may show the people in your life that you are actively trying to recover from your mistakes and move on.
Inability to Travel
Depending on your record and where you live, you might also face travel restrictions. Your opportunities aren’t just limited within your county or state, either – they will follow you pretty much wherever you go.
Can You Get Your Illinois Record Expunged?
Eligibility for expunction and criminal record sealing depends on whether or not you were convicted of a crime, how much time has passed, and whether or not you have committed subsequent crimes. A knowledgeable expungement attorney can guide you on whether or not you qualify to clean your record.
A clean (or hidden) record is crucial to moving past the mistakes you have made in the past and building a successful life for yourself. Talk to an Illinois criminal defense attorney about how you can seal your record and stop paying the cost of your past.
The sooner you can get your criminal record sealed or expunged, the sooner you can move on with your life.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes.