The law has changed! It's now easier, in some cases, to clear, expunge, erase, seal and get rid of a criminal arrest record in Illinois. Call us today at (312) 466-9466 to learn more about how we assist with the expungement process.
If you have been arrested for a criminal offense in Illinois and were not convicted, you might be eager to celebrate. But, for many of our criminal defense clients, it's a short celebration because they quickly realize that the arrest record is available to the public.
In other words, when you go to apply for a job and an employer does a background check, they will see the arrest recorded in the databases of police agencies and the criminal court. In addition, the police will see prior arrest records, and may treat you differently if you allow these arrests to stay on your public record.
The good news is there is a way to erase the record of an arrest. It's called expungement, and we regularly help people with getting rid of Illinois criminal arrest records. We do this for our criminal defense clients and for others who we have not previously represented.
The even better news is that the limitations on who can expunge an arrest have now become more favorable, due to a major change in Illinois Expungement law that came into effect in January 2017.
Prior to this new change, which we will explain shortly, anyone who had a conviction for anything in their past could never expunge a new arrest that resulted in a record of conviction or any new arrest where the charges were dismissed or the defendant was found not guilty.
With the new changes, however, if you are not convicted of a crime, you may now expunge it, no matter what else is on your criminal record.
The relevant portion of the old law read as follows:
However, effective January 1, 2017, the expungement law now reads as follows:
What this means is if you were not convicted of a crime, you may petition the court to expunge any record of that arrest and prosecution even if you have a conviction or convictions on your record.
You still cannot expunge the conviction in most cases.
For example, suppose a young man refuses to leave a bar after a little too much to drink and he is arrested for trespassing. The young man pleads guilty for time considered served so that he can be released from jail immediately.
Later, he is mistakenly identified as a murder suspect. A video of the murder is found and the young man is cleared of the murder beyond any doubt.
He may now petition to have the arrest for the crime of murder expunged off his record. In the past, the murder arrest followed him for life. He may not expunge the trespassing conviction, but at least he does not have to explain why he was a murder suspect in future job interviews.
Based on the new change, it also got less expensive in Cook County to petition the court for an expungement if you were not convicted.
Previously, the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County would charge a $60.00 administrative fee for the work involved in processing expungement paperwork, and there would be an additional charge for a $60.00 administrative fee for the Illinois State Police. That $120.00 cost fell on the innocent and the guilty alike.
However, the law now provides as follows;
Note that this fee waiver is on a trial basis. On January 1, 2018 the fees will be reinstated unless a new law extends it.
Petitioners trying to expunge their records should also be aware that filing a petition does not guarantee that the court will order expungement.
Certain offenses are still ineligible, and the prosecution may object to expungement if the records "...contain specific relevant information aside from the mere fact of the arrest." Currently the Cook County State's Attorney's office will object to expungement for almost every domestic violence arrest, and object to many other expungements as well.
If you have to appear in court for your petition, you will have a better chance of receiving an expungement of your criminal record if you have an attorney to argue your position. Call us today to arrange an office consultation to learn how we can help you clean up your Illinois criminal record.