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How to expunge your criminal record in Illinois

Leaving a criminal life behind is difficult yet rewarding. Unfortunately, the consequences of your past usually remain and can linger for years.

One way to make life easier to expunge your record. Here is the information you need to know.

What is expungement?

Clearing your criminal history can involve different approaches, depending on your circumstances. Expungement erases things from your record. It does not seal your record, nor does it remove convictions on its own. 

Who qualifies for expungement?

To request an expungement, you must meet certain state qualifications. First, you cannot expunge a conviction unless you have received a pardon, reversal, vacate order or approval for it first. What you can expunge includes the following:

  • Arrests without convictions
  • Court supervision two years after completion (five years for specific offenses)
  • Qualified probation five years after completion

Minor traffic violations and court supervision for reckless driving, DUIs and sexual crimes against minors are not eligible for expungement. If you have a mixed record, you can request to expunge only the parts that qualify.

What if expungement is not possible?

For crimes the law does not allow you to erase, you may be able to apply to seal your record instead. This hides your criminal history from the public and most employers. Where a background check is mandatory, potential employers can see felony convictions only. Law enforcement will still have access to your full record. 

What does the expungement process entail?

Start by acquiring your criminal record to ensure you meet the requirements. Then fill out the correct form, file it with the court in the district where the arrest or charges happened and pay a fee.

Agencies involved in the case have 60 days to object. If they do, you will receive a court date for a judge to hear evidence from both sides. In some Cook County districts, you will receive a court date anyway. If the judge grants an expungement, it will occur within 60 days. If the judge denies the expungement, you can request a reconsideration or appeal.

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Notable Results

  • Accusation: Attempt First Degree Murder
  • Facing: 30 years in prison at 85%
  • Result: Post-conviction petition granted
  • Accusation: Solicitation of a Prostitute, Obstructing Justice, Battery
  • Facing: 365 days in jail, loss of legal residence
  • Result: All charges but battery dropped, one year expungeable supervision
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