Having a criminal record can cause devastating consequences that extend long after you have completed your sentence or paid your fine. Prospective employers, admissions officers, landlords, and loan agents do not take kindly to applicants who have been found guilty of a crime, so a criminal record can make it hard for you to get your life back on track. However, with the help of a knowledgeable Chicago-area defense lawyer, you can try to get a clean slate. Sealing your record will make it unavailable to the public without a court order, and will improve your prospects for getting the job, apartment, or loan that you want. Often, sealing is a good option for people who don’t qualify for expungement of their record.
Which Records Can Be Sealed?
Under Section 5.2 of the Criminal Identification Act (20 ILCS 2630/5.2), certain arrest records and certain convictions can be sealed. Criminal records can only be sealed for adults, or for minors prosecuted as adults.
When sealing a criminal record, it is not an “all or nothing” action like the procedure for expungement, which erases every item on a record. Some arrests can be sealed, while leaving other items on a criminal record. This means that convictions that cannot be sealed, or are not yet eligible to be sealed, do not prevent your from sealing other eligible arrests or convictions on your record.
The types of records eligible for sealing are those involving a misdemeanor or municipal ordinance violation in which the final disposition in your case was one of the following:
- Release without conviction (including cases without formal charges);
- Reversed conviction;
- Sentence of supervision (after waiting three years); or
- Conviction of a misdemeanor (after four years).
However, certain misdemeanors cannot be sealed, including violent crimes; sex crimes; driving under the influence; reckless driving; and violations of the Humane Care of Animals Act.
Most convictions for felonies are not eligible for sealing. However, records of some Class
4 and Class 3 felonies can be sealed. This includes the following Class 4 felonies: prostitution; drug possession; retail theft; deceptive practices; forgery; and possession of burglary tools. The Class 3 felonies that are not eligible for sealing include: theft; retail theft; deceptive practices; forgery; and possession with the intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance.
Which Records Cannot Be Sealed?
Records of convictions for felonies cannot be sealed, except for convictions for the above Class 3 and 4 felonies. In addition, these felonies cannot be sealed, regardless of their class: driving under the influence; reckless driving; adultery; fornication; public indecency; marrying a bigamist; obscenity; dog fighting; violations of the Humane Care of Animals Act; Sex Offender Registration Act offenses; and any crimes under the Victim Compensation Act.
Seek Help from a Knowledgeable Local Attorney
You deserve a fair shot at building the life you want after a criminal conviction. An experienced Chicago criminal defense lawyer who understands the legal requirements for criminal record sealing and expungement in Illinois can help you determine whether you can clear your record, and can guide you through the long process. Contact Goldman & Associates today for a consultation.