Expungement and Sealing
Clearing your Criminal Record in Illinois
The expungement process regarding criminal charges in the state of Illinois has undergone several significant changes since 2010 as the Illinois General Assembly made changes that impact the eligibility of persons who have either a conviction or supervision in their background.
The process of having your record expunged or sealed can appear to be overwhelming and difficult. The attorneys at Fagan, Fagan & Davis focus on Illinois legal defense including driving under the influence (DUI) at courthouses in Cook County, Lake County and DuPage County.
The process is generally the same, but a person seeking to expunge or seal a court record must file a petition with the circuit court. That person must also serve notice on four governmental agencies of the petition:
- the law enforcement agency that made the arrest;
- the chief legal officer of the town, city, or municipality for that police or sheriff's department;
- the county state's attorney; and
- the Illinois State Police.
If the circuit court has not received any objections by the conclusion of the waiting period, a decision whether to grant or deny the petition to expunge or seal will rest with the presiding judge. If the petition is granted, the court will issue an order directing all concerned parties to expunge or seal the record. But, who can get a criminal record expunged or sealed has been changed including, which offenses are no longer eligible, and the waiting period.
The highlights of the changes to state law enacted in 2010 include:
- Reckless driving and aggravated reckless driving charges qualify to be expunged or sealed as multiple DUI offenders were avoiding the minimum conviction that comes on a second DUI offense by clearing any trace of prior DUIs, which had reduced to a charge of reckless driving. Reckless driving, like DUI, is now permanently displayed on a person's driving record.
- First offenders who completed two years of Section 410 probation may have their records expunged, but the court may require them to submit to a drug test before granting the expungement. Under the Illinois Controlled Substances Act certain individuals may bee be sentenced to probation instead of a conviction if they were charged with possession of small amounts of drugs and have not been convicted or placed on probation for drug possession in the past.
- After the petitioner has filed a petition seeking expungement or sealing of their records and the four concerned parties have been notified, the waiting period for an objection is 60 days.
- Persons who have obtained commercial driver's licenses (CDLs) who would like to protect their driving record are no longer able to have moving violations expunged. Previously, the statue allowed a person to have a record expunged only if they had not been convicted of any other offense. The law now says a minor moving violation does not affect a person's eligibility for relief.
Previously, if a party objected, such as the state's attorney, then some circuit courts would deny the petition without a hearing. Now, each person is entitled to a hearing if one of the four interested parties objects.
Often a defendant with no prior convictions who is charged with a felony can have their attorney negotiate a plea that reduces the charge to a misdemeanor. If a period of supervision is completed successfully, then the supervision should be subject to expungement. On the other hand, if the misdemeanor resulted in a conviction, then the defendant should be able to seal the record, provided all other conditions are met.
Expunging or sealing a criminal record is a process that requires knowledgable and skilled counsel. The lawyers of Fagan, Fagan & Davis have helped thousands of people like you clear their criminal records in Illinois through successfully pursuing expungement and sealing petitions. If you want to find out if you're eligible to clear records throughout the Chicago area courts, including those located in Cook County, DuPage County and Lake County, contact us now for an assessment of your eligibility.