The Way to Clear Your Illinois Criminal Record
If you were ever arrested in Illinois, you have a criminal record, even if the case was dismissed…unless a judge enters an order to expunge or seal your record.
We are a boutique law firm focusing primarily on clearing of criminal records through expungement, sealing and Governor’s pardons. With years of experience, we have an extensive understanding of the legal process and multiple steps required to properly clear your criminal record.
Illinois law defines what crimes can (and cannot) be expunged or sealed. We guarantee that we will not file a petition unless you are eligible.
ILLINOIS AND EXPUNGEMENT & SEALING PROCEDURE
1. Obtain your entire criminal background: If you have ever been arrested, you have a record. It is a common myth that an arrest that was dismissed “falls off” of your record. This is untrue. We must gather case information on all cases, including: arresting agency, county, date of arrest, sentence date or dismissal date, sentence (supervision, conditional discharge, prison, probation, etc.), and if the sentence was completed satisfactorily.
Depending on the number of times you were arrested and how long ago the arrests occurred, this can be a tedious and time-consuming process.
2. Eligibility Determination: Once we’ve gathered your entire record, we must determine, based on the outcome of every single case, whether you are eligible to expunge or seal your record, or whether you must seek a Governor’s pardon. You can only expunge your record if you have no convictions whatsoever. If you have a conviction, you cannot expunge any part of your record; but, you may be eligible to seal all or part of your record. Also, there are specified waiting periods, up to 5 years, you must wait wait before you are eligible to file the petition.
The law can be confusing and we guarantee that we will evaluate your record properly based on our detailed understanding of the Illinois expungement and sealing statute.
3. Prepare and file the proper petitions with the court: Each county and courthouse has its own petitions, filing procedures and fees.
We fill out the proper petition (expunge or seal), file it with the court, and keep you updated on the status of the pending petition.
4. Court hearing: Even if you are eligible to expunge or seal your record, it is still discretionary: the judge is not required to order the record expunged or sealed. For example, if you have many recent arrests, the judge may determine you have a pattern of criminal activity and deny your petition.
Some counties require a hearing before the judge will order your record expunged or sealed. Other counties don’t require a court appearance and we receive the judge’s order in the mail.
We will appear at your hearing, if required by the court.
5. State’s Objection: The State’s Attorney may object to your petition to expunge or seal. This usually happens when the State doesn’t want a certain type of crime removed from the public record (for example, a sexual abuse case that was dismissed) or when you have a lengthy history of criminal behavior. If there is an objection, you are entitled to a hearing before the court to attempt to convince the judge to enter the order.
We will appear at your hearing and provide the court with a convincing argument and supporting documentation in support of your petition to expunge or seal.
6. Entry of Order, Agency Compliance: An order to expunge or seal directs agencies to clear your record. Your record is not cleared the same day the order is entered. Instead, the order must be sent to the Illinois State Police and the arresting agency. The State Police require a fee for compliance and many arresting agencies are also now requiring a fee.
We pay all fees and communicate with every agency to ensure prompt compliance. Once we have confirmation that your record is expunged or sealed, we send you the proof that the process is complete.
When the process is done properly, it takes a minimum of 3-6 months for total expungement or sealing. Some records, depending on their complexity, can take longer.
* You can do the work yourself by visiting the clerk’s office where your case was originally filed. But, if you don’t want to risk filling out the wrong forms or if you simply want it done the right way the first time around, you can rely on us.