An expungement allows a person to petition the circuit court for relief from a prior criminal record. Expungements were codified under the Criminal Identification Act, 20 ILCS 2630/0.01. In January of 2010, the entire Criminal Identification Act was rewritten drastically changing the entire expungement process.
What Can Be Expunged?
Expungements are available to people who have never been convicted of a criminal offense. To qualify for an expungement the person must have been:
1) Acquitted of the charge following a bench or jury trial
2) Had the charges against them dismissed by the prosecutor
3) Arrested but released by the police without be charged
4) Had their conviction vacated or reversed
5) Successfully completed his or her supervision sentence
6) Successfully completed his or her qualified probation
What is the Effect of a Conviction?
A conviction makes the person ineligible for expunging his or her criminal record. The conviction not only makes that offense ineligible for expungement but it makes the entire criminal record ineligible for expungement. A person convicted of an offense is ineligible from expunging his or her criminal record unless the governor grants a pardon authorizing expungement; otherwise, the person may be eligible to seal their criminal record.
What Does It Mean to Seal a Record?
Sealing a criminal record is the ideal method of clearing a person’s criminal record that contains a conviction for a criminal offense. The Illinois General Assembly created the process of sealing a criminal record in 2004. Prior to 2004, the only method of clearing a criminal record that contained a conviction was to receive a pardon from the governor. Now a person convicted of minor misdemeanor offenses and some felony cases may petition a court to seal their criminal record.
Expunging a criminal record is a remedy that can be used to clear a person’s criminal record. It is imperative that a person files a petition to expunge as soon as they are eligible under the Criminal Identification Act. What can and can’t be expunged is constantly changing and what is eligible for expungement today may not be tomorrow.