If you have been arrested or convicted, you may be able to expunge (or remove) the information off your record. When an individual has his or her criminal record expunged or sealed, the record is removed from public searches and the court system. Unless an individual seeks an expungement or sealing, every conviction on his or her record remains there indefinitely. There are time periods you must wait to expunge or seal a record. If your case was dismissed or "nolle prosequi" you may be entitled to expunge the record immediately.
Expungement versus Sealing
The difference between an expunged record and a sealed record is important. An expungment and a sealed record are not the same thing. When an arrest is expunged from your criminal record, it is erased from the record. To seal a record, on the other hand, means it still exists, but can only be accessed by the court, law enforcement, immigration courts and select employers. Sealed records may only be accessed through a court order.
In Illinois, an arrest that DID NOT result in a conviction may be expunged from an individual’s record. If the arrest did result in a conviction, the record may be sealed, depending on the nature of the conviction. There are a few exceptions to this rule, however. If an individual’s conviction is reversed, he or she may have it expunged from his or her record. An individual who is pardoned by the governor may also expunge their conviction. Certain dispositions may allow for an expungement even though you plead guilty and were "convicted."
Which Convictions May Be Sealed? Which Arrests May Be Expunged?
Most types of arrest may be expunged from an individual’s record if it did not result in his or her conviction.
Certain arrests and charges cannot be expunged, regardless of whether the individual was convicted. These include:
Records of many types of convictions can be sealed, but not all. Convictions that cannot be sealed include:
Class X, 1, and 2 felonies;
Violation of an Order of Protection; and
Offenses against Animals.
Juvenile records, though not accessible by the public, still can and should be expunged. Most arrests, charges and convictions before a minors' 17th birthday are part of a juvenile criminal record and can be expunged. However, murder and certain sex crimes can never be expunged. Convictions for felonies and misdemeanors can be expunged if the minor is 21 years old, or 5 years have passed after probation or parole ends, and there are no adult convictions on his or her record.
To learn more about expungments and your rights, contact my office to schedule your initial consultation (847) 977-6298.