The consequences of being arrested and facing criminal charges can last long after your case is finished. If you are found guilty, the case can follow you around for the rest of your life. If you win your case, and are found not guilty, or if the charges are dismissed, a routine background search may reveal the criminal charges. Even though the case was dismissed, or you want, a prospective employer will see that you were accused of a crime and may use that against you in deciding whether to hire you.
But you may be able to remove the case from your record so that you can pass a background search. Illinois allows certain criminal cases to be removed from your record. This is called an Expungement.
What is Expungement?
Expungement means to wipe out, or destroy, the records associated with your criminal case. It’s the process by which the Police Department that placed you under arrest is ordered to destroy their file. The State Police is ordered to remove your case from their database. The State’s Attorneys Office is ordered to destroy their file and remove it from their database. The Clerk of the Court is ordered to destroy their file and remove you from their database. In summary, expungement allows you to clear a case from your record so that the case would not appear in a background search. It’s an important tool that many people who have a criminal record do not use as often as they should. Expungement is available in Illinois and it’s something every criminal defendant should look into after their case is finished.
What is Sealing?
Sealing is another remedy available to people with a criminal record. Many people confuse Expungement with Sealing. Sealing your record is different than Expunging your record. Not all cases are eligible for Expungement. Many times, if your case is not eligible to be Expunged, it may be eligible to be Sealed. If your record is Sealed, this means that the general public will not be able to see your case. However, police officers and prosecutors will be able to see your case if they want to. While Expungement is always better than Sealing, if you are not able to Expunge your record, Sealing your record may be the only option available to you. At the end of the day, whether you Expunge or Seal your case the end result is the same. You should be able to back pass a background search and prevent the public from finding the case in a background search.
How Do You Expunge or Seal a Case And Clear Your Record?
If you want to remove a case from your background, you must file a Petition to Expunge or a Petition to Seal with the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the Courthouse where your case was at. Before you file a Petition to Expunge or a Petition to Seal, you must determine whether whether the case can be Expunged or Sealed. Once you determine whether your case can be Expunged or Sealed, you need to make sure that you waited long enough before filing the Petition.
In general, Expungement is a remedy that is available for certain misdemeanors and for first-time offenders. Depending on the criminal charge, and how the case ended, you may have to wait two-years after your sentence is completed before you are eligible to file a Petition. If your case was dismissed, you may be able to file a Petition right away. For other misdemeanors, you may have to wait five-years before filing a Petition. If you are not eligible for Expungement, you may be eligible to Seal the case.
If you want to know whether you can Expunge or Seal a case to clean your criminal record, you should talk to an experienced Expungement and Sealing lawyer who can tell you whether you are eligible to file a Petition and it you have to wait to file.
Will a Court Appearance Be Necessary?
The Expungement and Sealing process happens in front of the Chief Judge of the Courthouse that your case was in. As a result, Expungements and Sealings are controlled by the Chief Judge in each Courthouse. In some Courthouse, the Chief Judge will require that the Defendant appear in Court for their Expungement or Sealing hearing. In other Courthouses, your appearance will be required only if someone objects to your Petition to Expunge or Seal. When you file your Petition, you will send notice to the Clerk of the Court, the States Attorneys Office, the Illinois State Police, the local police agency that arrested you, and the lawyer for the city or town that arrested you. Any of those parties can file a written objection with the Chief Judge which may require your appearance to respond to the objection.
James Dimeas, is a nationally-recognized, award-winning, Expungement or Sealing lawyer, with over-27 years of experience handling Expungements and Sealings in Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, and Lake County. Recently, James Dimeas was named a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer in the State of Illinois for the Year 2018 and 2019” by the American Society of Legal Advocates. James Dimeas was named a “Best DUI Attorney” and a “Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Chicago” by Expertise. James Dimeas was named a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer” by the National Trial Lawyers. The National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys awarded James Dimeas the “Top 10 Attorney Award for the State of Illinois.” James Dimeas is rated “Superb” by AVVO, the highest classification possible for any criminal defense lawyer in the United States. The American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys recognized James Dimeas as a “10 Best Attorney for Client Satisfaction.” Attorney and Practice Magazine gave James Dimeas the “Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorney Award for Illinois.
If you want to Expunge or Seal a case a clean your criminal record, you can contact James Dimeas anytime for a free and confidential consultation. You can always talk to James Dimeas personally by calling him at 847-807-7405.
Can I Vote In Illinois If I Have a Felony Conviction, by James G, Dimeas, Chicago Criminal Lawyer Blog, November 2, 2017.
I Have a Criminal Case, Do I Need a Lawyer?, by James G. Dimeas, Chicago Criminal Lawyer Blog, March 10, 2019.