To err is human, as the saying goes. But the Illinois criminal justice system is less forgiving, and a criminal record will follow you the rest of your life if you do not take action. It doesn’t matter if you were never convicted or your case was dismissed—even an arrest can stay on your record for the rest of your life if left uncontested.
With a blemished record, you may have trouble securing jobs, housing, or loans in the future. Thanks to the internet, virtually anyone can access your permanent record, including employers, college admission boards, and loan officers. Seeing an arrest, charge, or conviction on your record can have a hugely negative impact on the decisions they make regarding your life and future. The negative stigma attached to a criminal record can continue to cause devastating problems for you and your family for many years after the incident occurs.
Fortunately, Illinois law does provide for a way around this crippling penalty. There are specific statutes that give you the right to have your criminal record expunged or sealed. By having your record sealed or expunged, you’ll be able to limit or prevent public and private entities from accessing information about your criminal history. With an expunged or sealed record, you will not have to disclose your arrest, charge, or conviction to others, including landlords and prospective employers.
Though Illinois offers a variety of helpful materials on expunging or sealing your record on your own, it can be a very lengthy and complex process. The smallest paperwork error or technicality could result in your request being denied. To increase your chances of having your record successfully expunged or sealed, it’s highly advisable to enlist the aid of a seasoned expunging and record sealing attorney. A lawyer with experience in this area will be able to guide you through the process and the multiple steps required to properly clear your record of criminal stains.
Andrew M. Weisberg is an established Chicago criminal attorney with years of experience in both the record expunging and sealing processes. Mr. Weisberg can help you determine whether your unique situation is best suited for expungement or sealing, and help you through the petitioning process every step of the way.
While expunging records and sealing records both have the purpose of limiting of preventing access to criminal records, they are different in many respects. To help you understand which process you may be eligible for, let’s take a look at some of the similarities and differences.
Record expungement. In the expungement process, you can petition to have your records—including mug shots, fingerprints, and arrest records—completely destroyed or given to you. When your record is expunged, it is made inaccessible to the general public, including employers and public entities.
You may be eligible for expungement if you were arrested or charged, but never convicted of a crime in Illinois. In addition, you can expunge supervisions, qualifying probations, and juvenile offenses from your record. However, if you were convicted for a criminal offense or municipal ordinance violation, your record may be ineligible for expungement. To learn more about expungement and determine if you qualify, check out the Illinois government’s worksheet.
The process of petitioning for expungement is multifold, involving petitions to the State’s Attorney of your county, the local police, the Arresting Authority, and the Chief Legal Officer of the unit of local government affecting the arrest. Once your petition has been submitted, these agencies may file an objection within 60 days before your petition is approved.
Record sealing. The process for petitioning to have your record sealed is similar to that of expungement. Unlike expungement, however, records are placed “under seal” rather than being destroyed in the sealing process. While the general public may not access your sealed records, law enforcement officials and certain government agencies may be able to access your sealed record for special purposes.
If your record is ineligible for expungement, it may still qualify for sealing. Most misdemeanor cases can be sealed, as long as they do not involve intoxicated driving, violence, or a sexual offense. Certain drug and prostitution convictions are also eligible for sealing, though the vast majority of felony convictions cannot be sealed. You can determine the eligibility of your particular case for sealing with this worksheet.
Successfully sealing or expunging a record can have hugely beneficial effects on both your personal and professional life. When applying for jobs or housing, landlords and prospective employers won’t be able to see information about your arrests or convictions once your record is successfully sealed or expunged. And in most cases, you won’t even have to admit to having been charged or convicted with a crime if your record has been sealed or expunged—in fact, it is illegal for employers to even ask whether your record has been sealed or expunged in the past. By expunging or sealing your record, you keep it from impacting matters related to employment, certification, licensing, or registration, except in respect to certain government agencies. In essence, sealing or expunging your record virtually erases the incident from your history.
Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, the road to having your record sealed or expunged for a charge in Chicago is a long one, with many possibilities for error that can have you disqualified. If you are interested in having your record sealed or expunged in Illinois, your best course of action is to consult with a criminal defense lawyer who knows the ins and outs of the laws pertaining to record expunging and sealing.
Andrew Weisberg is an authority on Chicago-area criminal defense, including the record expunging and sealing process. He has assisted numerous clients in having their records sealed or expunged, and knows how to receive favorable results. Mr. Weisberg and his legal team can provide counsel and insight throughout the expunging or sealing process, helping you to rid yourself of a criminal record that may be hindering your future career, schooling, housing options, and happiness.
When you are ready to take the first step to getting your name cleared and your life back on track, contact Andrew Weisberg. You can call his cellphone 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 773.908.9811, and set up a case review and consultation absolutely free of charge.