llinois Expungements and Sealing
How do I clear up my criminal record? This is a common question that clients ask before, during, and especially after being charged with a criminal offense. The attorneys at Finegan Rinker & Ghrist know how important it is to you to clear your good name and avoid potential employers from disqualifying you as a candidate due to a mistake from your past. The good news is that the State of Illinois has made clearing your criminal record easier than ever through expanded expungement and sealing.
The first step for anyone interested in clearing a criminal record in the State of Illinois is to determine what the outcome of their criminal case was. If the charges were dismissed, you were released without criminal charges, or you obtain a term of court supervision or a specialty probation you may be in luck. These offenses are eligible to expunge completely from your criminal record, so long as the statutory waiting period has been complied with. For most offenses, that is two years from successful completion of court supervision on misdemeanor offenses, and five years from completion of a specialty probation on a felony offense. The benefits to expungements are clear….the government literally must destroy their file and delete your information from the electronic database. It really doesn’t get better then that.
But what if I don’t qualify for expungement? You are still in luck, the State of Illinois has revised the criminal identification act to expand the types of offenses eligible for sealing. Not only are more types of offenses eligible for sealing, the timeline for waiting may be shortened if you have obtained a degree, professional designation, or certificate during the course of your term of conditional discharge or probation. Serving clients in a community consisting of a large number of college and university students, this shortened timeframe could make the difference between getting that crucial first job after graduation and needing to wait a few more years until you can clean up your record.
The worst thing you can do is assume you are ineligible for expungement and sealing. Yes, there are still offenses which are not eligible such as, Driving Under the Influence (“DUI”), Domestic Battery, and any offense which requires registration under the Sex Offender Registration Act, but the list of eligible offenses far exceeds the list of ineligible ones. Changes are occurring quickly, and even DUI offenses may be eligible to seal in the future.
Even if you are not eligible today, it makes sense to pay attention to changes that are coming. The Illinois legislature appears committed to giving people an opportunity to recover their criminal records and a quick phone call to determine eligibility could make the difference between success and failure. Call Finegan Rinker & Ghrist today.
By Josh Rinker, J.D., M.B.A.