Sealing Your IL Criminal Record: An Alternative Option to Expungement
If you’ve got a criminal record, then you know what a big impact it can have on your life. Criminal records can affect everything from employment to housing — they can even make it difficult to secure loans for schooling.
Luckily, for anyone who has been convicted of certain crimes involving marijuana in Illinois, there may be a beacon of hope. Now that recreational use is legal in the state, nearly 800,000 previous offenders will be eligible to clear their records.
You may have heard the terms expungement and sealing in relation to clearing your criminal record. It’s important to note that these are two very different concepts under the law. Different groups of offenders are eligible for each as well.
Here’s what you need to know about record sealing and expungement and the process you must go through to keep your criminal record from following you.
Expungement and Sealing: Knowing the Difference
The reason for this difference is that expungement is meant to be exercised in cases where a person was found not guilty or the case against them was dismissed, taking court supervision, probation, and arrests off their record.
Sealing is meant to hide your record from the general public after a certain amount of time has passed after a criminal conviction. Your record will still be visible to law enforcement agencies as well as any job where you are fingerprinted.
What Crimes Are Eligible for Sealing?
If you have been convicted of a crime, then under normal circumstances it cannot be expunged but may qualify to be sealed. In Illinois, most felony and misdemeanor convictions are eligible for sealing except for crimes that involve crimes such as:
- Domestic battery
- Sex offenses
- Driving under the influence
- Animal cruelty
Also, if your conviction requires that you register as a sex offender, that you register under the Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth Registration Act, or under the Arsonist Registration Act, then you are not eligible for record sealing.
It’s also important to note that once your records are sealed, you cannot petition the court to have any future records sealed. It’s a one-time deal and any future criminal record you accrue will not be eligible.
How to Seal Your Criminal Record
To apply for sealing, you simply need to make sure you are eligible for the sealing and then file the appropriate motion in court to start the process. An experienced attorney can help file these motions for you, and collecting any information needed for them.
It can take several months for the sealing process to be completed. Some cases take longer while others take less time, each case is unique. How busy the courts are, whether or not the state objects or agrees, the availability of records, and how old the case is all have a bearing on a case’s timetable.
Once the sealing is granted, you receive a copy of the order and all criminal record databases and agencies will be notified of the update in their system they need to make.
Having your criminal record sealed can change your life for the better. Find out more about how you can get it done today.
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.