You have done the crime, you have done the time, and now you would like a fresh start. Your question is “Is it possible?” Is there any way to close that chapter of your life and have a fresh start without a criminal past dogging you? The answer is “Maybe.”
A more comprehensive response to this question depends upon whether or not this was a first time offense, whether the level of the criminal charge filed against you was for a felony or a misdemeanor, whether the case has been disposed of (i.e., conviction, acquittal, probation, etc.), and how long ago.
For the most part, expungement and sealing are available to clear the records for certain criminal offenses. Illinois has enacted legislation that is designed to expunge and seal criminal records for crimes committed within the state of Illinois and that fall under the state’s jurisdiction. However, expungement and sealing are not available for minor traffic violation cases such as speeding tickets.
The Illinois Criminal Identification Act states that qualifying arrests, convictions, supervisions, and probations may be expunged under certain circumstances. First time offenders with qualifying arrests and convictions including crimes, involving violation of a municipal ordinance, are eligible to have their record expunged. Veterans who have been honorably discharged and who have been convicted of certain Class 3 or Class 4 felonies are exempt from the “first time offender” restriction.
Under the Act, if your record is not eligible to be expunged, it may be eligible to be sealed. Only those criminal records prosecuted and maintained by the State of Illinois are affected. Illinois law does not permit for the expungement or sealing of federal and out-of-state convictions. For more information about expungement and sealing qualifications, consult with an experience criminal defense attorney.
What is Expungement?
An expungement of a criminal record wipes the slate clean, as opposed to “sealing,” which means that your record still exists, but that it has been sealed and unavailable to be inspected by the public. However, law enforcement entities, including police precincts and courts would have access to your sealed records. Records that have been expunged are destroyed. With an expungement, all evidence of any criminal arrest and conviction, for all intents and purposes, no longer exists. You will no longer have to report the arrest and conviction on applications for employment.
Do You Qualify?
If this is your first offense, you may qualify for an expungement if your case falls within the listed categories of eligible criminal offenses, has been disposed of, and you have no other outstanding cases. By final disposition, it is meant that you have been acquitted, your case has been stricken with leave to amend, the court finds that there is no probable cause to hold you over for trial, or your case has been dismissed.
What Crimes are Eligible for Expungement?
The following illegal activities are some of the types of cases that may be expunged. The majority of these cases require a five year period between final disposition and the Petition for Expungement (this list is not all inclusive).
- Driving a motor vehicle without insurance
- Driving a motor vehicle with a suspended registration
- Providing false insurance information
- Domestic battery
- Sexual abuse if the victim is over 18 years of age
- First office drug possession
There are certain illegal acts that are not eligible for expungement, and these include felonies, with the exception of some drug possession and prostitution cases; and all DUI convictions.
Criminal Defense Attorney David Freidberg
If accused of a crime, it is important that you know what your rights are and how to protect them. The need for an experienced criminal defense attorney begins with the charge and arrest. Knowing your rights is the first step in the process, and continues thereafter through a possible trial to acquittal or sentencing. So if you are being charged with any crime, including murder, sexual assault or battery, and would like to discuss all of the potential defenses available to you, call the Law Offices of David Freidberg today, at (312) 560-7100, or send an email, for a no-obligation consultation.