If someone gets arrested and then convicted for a crime, they will have a criminal record. Most people understand this innately.What if you beat your charge, though? Will you still have a criminal record? What if you never set foot in a courtroom? At what point is a criminal record created.
In this post, we’re going to tell you specifically how someone get a criminal record, and which misconceptions commonly confuse people. Then we’ll explain how to get your criminal record expunged.
Criminal Records in Illinois: What Are They?
A criminal record is the legal system’s way of documenting that you were involved in a criminal act.
Except not necessarily. Because you can still have a criminal record even if a conviction never occurs.
Here are the reasons a criminal record is created in Illinois:
- You are arrested for a crime
- You are arrested for a crime and you beat your charges
- You are arrested for a crime but charges are not pressed against you
In other words, your criminal record is created as soon as you are arrested. Even if things go no further, there will be a record of the arrest itself.
Now, having a criminal record that stops with arrest is obviously better than having a criminal record that shows you were convicted. However, the record can still have a negative impact on your life, and it usually won’t go away on its own.
A skilled Chicago defense attorney can help you get your criminal record removed – or at least tell you whether or not it is possible for your case. This is called expungement. It’s a legal process that shows that the courts no longer keep details of past run-ins with the law. There are multiple reasons that an expungement can help you, often in ways you probably never realized.
Negative Effects of a Criminal Record in Illinois
Even if you only have a misdemeanor charge that was never prosecuted, such as shoplifting or vandalism, you could be experiencing negative effects without realizing it.
These are the common ways a criminal record can have a negative impact on your life.
You’re not getting hired
During the hiring processes, many potential employers will run a background check on you to determine whether you are eligible for the job. If anything negative shows up, even for an arrest where the charges were dropped, you could be disqualified.
Some employers will hire you if you have a criminal record but they’ll watch you more closely and create a high-pressure working environment.
Even if you already have a job, you aren’t immune to the effects of a criminal record. New management can run a background check and let you go or demote you.
Additionally, certain licenses are required for specific jobs like teaching or nursing. A criminal record can disqualify you from getting licensed for these types of jobs. This could limit your earning potential and make your work life less satisfying.
Your credit is affected
Your employment issues as described above can take a toll on your credit. You may not be able to get loans for school, vehicles, or other important items.
Your housing is affected
If you are looking for a new place to rent, your criminal record may disqualify you from the place you really want. A landlord can also choose to gouge you with a higher deposit or inflated rates. This can put a pinch on the lifestyle you want to have, as well as the neighborhood or school district where you’d like to live.
Your rights are affected
A conviction for certain crimes will result in a loss of basic rights. Your criminal record could have a negative impact on your driving or voting privileges. You may lose your right to bear arms for various convictions. If you have children, you may lose custody of them.
What Should You Do If You Discover You Have an Illinois Criminal Record?
If possible? Get rid of it!
An experienced attorney will be able to tell you whether your charges or convictions are eligible for expungement. If your criminal record qualifies, he or she can move forward with the expungement process.
To begin expunging your record, your lawyer will file a petition with the court. The judge will then approve a review of your record and decide whether it can be hidden from public view. An expunged record can only be viewed by highly qualified individuals like prosecuting attorneys.
The expungement process is lengthy, taking at least a year in most cases. The sooner you get started on it, the sooner you can enjoy the benefits.
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.