Half a Million Illinois Cannabis Cases Expunged
The legalization of marijuana in Illinois has led to some amazing things for residents of the state. Chief among them? Thousands of cannabis offenders who have had their records expunged due to marijuana’s legalization in the state.
WGN has reported that Governor Pritzker recently announced that almost 500,000 criminal cannabis cases are now eligible for expungement and forgiveness.
Illinois’ governor issued a pardon for nearly 10,000 cannabis convictions while the State Police wiped the records clean of 492,000 non-felony cannabis cases.
If you are looking to have your case expunged in Illinois, now may be the time. There are a few things you need to know about the process before you begin, though, as well as the eligibility requirements. Read on to find out more.
Minor Cannabis Offenses in Illinois
If you have an arrest record as an adult in Illinois for a minor cannabis offense, then you may be eligible for expungement of those records. A minor cannabis offense is considered the dealing or possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana before June 25, 2019.
In order to be eligible, the arrest must have taken place at least one year ago and you cannot have had any charges filed against you in court. If you were acquitted of the charges or they were vacated or dismissed, then you are eligible for expungement.
It’s also important to note that your charges cannot have involved giving marijuana to someone who was under 18 and at least three years younger than you or being arrested for a violent crime at the same time as the marijuana charges.
Police are automatically expunging records that meet the qualifications for expungement if you were arrested after 01/01/13. In that case, your record will be expunged by 01/01/21. For anyone arrested between 01/01/00 and 12/31/12, your record will be expunged by 01/01/23. If you were arrested before 01/01/00, then you can expect an automatic expungement by 01/01/25.
Please be aware that the automatic expungements being done by law enforcement will not expunge court records. You must seek expungement on your own of these records if you want that to happen.
Guilty Verdicts in Illinois on Minor Cannabis Offenses
For anyone who was found guilty of a minor cannabis offense, there is still hope of an automatic expungement. However, the process is a bit different.
In cases of conviction, the record must go before the Prison Review Board. They will advise that the Governor grant an expungement.
If he does, then it goes to the Attorney General who files a petition in the county you were convicted in to expunge your record. If this is granted, then you will be identified by the county clerk.
Expungement of Other Illinois Offenses
Even if you don’t meet any of the criteria mentioned, your case may still be eligible for expungement. Any misdemeanor where court supervision was received is eligible for an expungement two years after its successful completion except the following crimes:
- Domestic violence such as stalking and violation of orders of protection
- Sex crimes that qualify you for the sex offender registry
Also remember that if you were never convicted you can seek expungement or if your conviction for a felony or misdemeanor was pardoned, vacated, or reversed.
How to Get Your Records Expunged
To have your records expunged if you qualify, you must first file a petition and pay a fee to the circuit court in the county where your charges were brought. Arrests or charges in multiple counties will require you to file a separate petition in each county.
The circuit clerk will then serve notice to the State’s Attorney’s office or the prosecutor that handled your case, as well as the arresting agency and legal officer of the local government that made your arrest. Any agency that receives notice can object to the petition within 60 days.
A hearing is then scheduled by a judge or, if no one objects, the judge may simply grant your petition. Even if you qualify, you should understand that the court has the right to either deny or grant your petition.
Expungement can do great things for you and your life but you have only one shot to do it right. That’s why it’s essential to understand the process if you qualify, and what is at stake when you apply for the expungement.
An experienced attorney can help answer your questions and guide you through the process to make sure everything is done right.
It’s a great thing that Illinois is expunging so many records due to its legalization of marijuana. Don’t miss out if you qualify for an expungement of your record for minor cannabis offenses.
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. His work has been recognized by Avvo, Expertise, National Trial Lawyers, and others, and he has been featured on countless news outlets for his experience and knowledge in criminal law.