A criminal record can seriously impact your life. It hurts your prospects when applying for a job, housing or trying to get financial aid. Even if you were not convicted of a crime, a criminal charge generally shows up on a background check.
However, you may be eligible to have your record either expunged or sealed, depending on your circumstances. With an expungement, a criminal record is destroyed and is no longer be accessible to anyone. When you have a record sealed, the record still exists, but is not available to the public, though law enforcement has access.
In Illinois, you can request an expungement two to five years after you have completed your supervision or probation. The waiting period depends on the charge and the penalty imposed. Here are the situations where you can file for an expungement:
- You were not convicted of a felony or misdemeanor.
- The charges were pardoned, vacated or reversed.
- You received probation or community service, and you completed it.
- You were arrested, but never charged.
With community supervision, you may be eligible for an expungement right after you complete the supervision. Some crimes, however, never qualify for expungement, like DUI and sex crimes against minors.
Most misdemeanor and felony crimes are eligible for record sealing. This is true, even if you were convicted of these crimes. You can usually have your record sealed after three to five years. However, certain crimes are not eligible for sealing. According to the Office of the State Appellate Defender, these include:
- Reckless driving
- Violation of an Order of Protection
- Domestic battery
- Sexual offenses
If you are unsure about your eligibility, contact an Illinois criminal defense attorney. An attorney will look at your specific circumstances and may come up with other options to help clear your name.