The burden of a criminal record can be heavy. Oftentimes, you can be denied a job or housing based on the fact that you have a record. If you are interested in filing to clear your criminal history, contact our Kane County criminal defense attorney to discuss your options at (312) 466-9466.
We help clients expunge and seal their criminal records so that they can move forward in life without having to worry about losing opportunities because of past court involvement. This article will discuss the Kane County expungement and sealing process as well as eligibility requirements.
"Expungement" is a technical legal term that essentially means clearing a criminal record. If you petition for expungement and the petition is granted, your criminal record will be completely erased -- it is as if nothing ever happened.
Sealing your record is another option, which occurs when the State closes your criminal record to the public. However, the record can still be accessed by court order. Unlike expungement, certain parties can still access your record, namely law enforcement and the court. In addition, a special class of employers can also view sealed criminal records. These employers are the organizations mandated by law to require background checks, such as hospitals, schools, childcare, or public agencies. No other employer can see criminal records that have been sealed, nor can landlords access those details.
Expungement is slightly more common than sealing in Illinois. Between July 2015 and July 2016, 9,608 expungement petitions were filed in Illinois. During that time period, Illinois residents also filed 6,766 to seal records. Of those petitions, the Illinois State Police objected to 1,345 expungement petitions (13 percent) and 617 petitions to seal (9 percent). The data does not describe what happened to those objected petitions, because it depends on how judges ruled in the resulting hearing that determines whether the objection is sustained or overruled. But overall, the data shows that Illinois accepts the majority of expungement and sealing petitions without objection. (http://www.isp.state.il.us/docs/expunge_stats.pdf)
Not everyone with a criminal record qualifies to have their history expunged or sealed. Eligibility depends on several factors, included the nature of the crimes listed and the time elapsed since a conviction or arrest. In general, felony convictions cannot be expunged or sealed.
First, you are not eligible to file an expungement or sealing petition if you currently have any active charges pending. If a final disposition has not been entered in your criminal case, then that case is technically still pending. "Final disposition" means that you must have completed all terms of your sentence. If your terms of parole, probation, or court supervision have not yet concluded, you are may not file to clear your record.
Second, if you were convicted of a crime and it resulted in probation, jail time, or even conditional discharge, you are not eligible to expunge your record, though it is possible you may be able to seal it. The only type of sentence eligible for expungement is court supervision.
Eligibility to seal a record is more complicated. In many cases, a certain amount of time must have elapsed between when you were convicted of a crime and the present.
The length of the required crime-free period depends on the type of charges you have faced in the past. Certain felonies require more time in between the final disposition and the sealing petition. For most convictions, this period ranges from 3-5 years.
However, serious felonies cannot be sealed. If you have been convicted of a Class X, 1, or 2 felony, the only recourse is to file for an executive clemency and expungement, which means a pardon from the governor's office.
The criteria to determine eligibility for expungement and sealing is complicated. There are more factors involved that those listed here. Lawyers at our firm can help you decide whether expungement or sealing makes sense for you, and we will complete the filing process for you once you have decided which option to pursue.
The Kane County Circuit Court Clerk's office charges a fee to file and expungement or sealing petition. The fee schedule listed below includes the petition fee, photocopy fee, mailing notice fee, postage, and the order to expunge or seal itself.
These fees include the $60 fee charged by Illinois State Police to retrieve a criminal record, so you do not need to pay the additional fee on top of the one charged by Kane County.
Filing an expungement or sealing motion can be expensive. Although it is not necessary to retain an attorney in order to do so, we recommend that you consult a Kane County criminal defense attorney beforehand. It is better to file one petition and know that you are doing so correctly, rather than end up paying the filing fee twice, which is an expensive venture.
Over the years, our firm has helped numerous clients expunge or seal their Illinois criminal records. Don't let your past decisions impact your life today -- give our offices a call today to see if you are eligible to have your record cleared. We would be happy to help you turn over a new leaf and alleviate the burden of a criminal record. To schedule a free legal consultation with a Kane County criminal defense attorney, call (312) 466-9466.