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Clearing, Expunging, Erasing, Sealing and Getting Rid of a Criminal Arrest Record in Illinois

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.

Why Getting Rid of an Arrest Record in Illinois is Now Easier

The relevant portion of the old law read as follows:

b) Expungement.

(1) A petitioner may petition the circuit court to expunge the records of his or her arrests and charges not initiated by arrest when:

(A) He or she has never been convicted of a criminal offense; and... (the statute went on from here to list other requirements of eligibility).

However, effective January 1, 2017, the expungement law now reads as follows:

b) Expungement.

(1) A petitioner may petition the circuit court to expunge the records of his or her arrests and charges not initiated by arrest when each arrest or charge not initiated by arrest sought to be expunged resulted in: (i) acquittal, dismissal, or the petitioner's release without charging, unless excluded by subsection (a)(3)(B); (ii) a conviction which was vacated or reversed, unless excluded by subsection (a)(3)(B); (iii) an order of supervision and such supervision was successfully completed by the petitioner, unless excluded by subsection (a)(3)(A) or (a)(3)(B); or (iv) an order of qualified probation (as defined in subsection (a)(1)(J)) and such probation was successfully completed by the petitioner.

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.

Expunging a Conviction Record in Illinois

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.

Costs for Getting Rid of an Arrest Record in Cook County

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;

(1.5) County fee waiver pilot program. In a county of 3,000,000 or more inhabitants, no fee shall be required to be paid by a petitioner if the records sought to be expunged or sealed were arrests resulting in release without charging or arrests or charges not initiated by arrest resulting in acquittal, dismissal, or conviction when the conviction was reversed or vacated, unless excluded by subsection (a)(3)(B). The provisions of this paragraph (1.5), other than this sentence, are inoperative on and after January 1, 2018 or one year after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 99th General Assembly, whichever is later.

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.

Some Criminal Records in Illinois Cannot Be Erased

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.

Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer - (312) 466-9466 

Chicago Office

900 W. Jackson Blvd.

Suite 5W

Chicago, IL 60607

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