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I Want to Move on From My Criminal Record – How Can I Do That in Illinois?

— August 14, 2020

Successfully expunging your record can help you get on the path to build a new life without previous circumstances weighing you down.

As soon as you begin to build up a criminal record, life can become much more difficult. Many employers and universities do not take kindly to those who have a past riddled with criminal activity. Unfortunately, this is even the case for those who have minor offenses that are far in the past. The small “have you committed a crime?” checkbox on applications can often keep you from being considered for a position or opportunity.

Luckily, the state of Illinois has recognized the stigma associated with arrests and convictions and officials have realized that a person’s past can often keep them from successfully moving forward. In order to reduce recidivism rates and improve a person’s chance of bettering their future, the state of Illinois allows some people with a criminal past to erase their record.

What is Expungement?

The word “expungement” is the legal term for erasing arrests, court supervisions, and some types of probation from your personal record. Since criminal records are accessible to the public, anyone can view your record by doing a quick online search. This includes any arrests, even if you were never charged or were found not guilty. Depending on the details of your arrest or conviction, you may be able to destroy these records through the legal process of expungement. This will eliminate any records of your past from the view of the public, including employers, universities, landlords, or others.

What Cannot Be Expunged?

Before beginning the expungement process, you should determine whether your circumstances are eligible for expungement. The following offenses cannot be expunged:

  • Minor traffic violations, unless you were released without being charged. 
  • Misdemeanor and felony convictions that have not been reversed, vacated, or pardoned by the Governor or approved by the Prisoner Review Board.
  • Any court supervision, probation, or other sentencing that was not successfully completed.
  • Any court supervisions for reckless driving, driving under the influence, or sexual offenses against minors.

How Can I Get My Record Expunged?

The Boy Scouts’ so-called “perversion files” are internal records of volunteers blacklisted for suspected child sex abuse. Image via Pixabay. Public domain.

The legal process to apply for expungement involves the reviewal of your record and the completion of paperwork. You will need to get official copies of your criminal records, review your records and select the arrests or offenses that you would like erased, properly file a petition for expungement, and appear at your scheduled court date to present your case to the judge. This may seem like a fairly straightforward process; however, it is always best to consult with a legal professional throughout the process to be sure that you are properly completing the paperwork and are prepared for your court date.

How Can I Find a Reputable Attorney?

The input from a legal professional can save you time spent deciphering the legal jargon of the expungement paperwork and determining whether or not you qualify for expungement. Your attorney can also help you prepare your petition for expungement and provide the information to demonstrate why it is necessary to clear your record. In many cases, the most critical input that you will receive from an experienced attorney is assistance with your court appearance. The way that you present your case in front of a judge can often be the determining factor in your expungement approval. 

Within the state of Illinois, there are thousands of criminal defense lawyers who are prepared to take on your case and walk you through each step of the process. Be sure to use suggestions from friends and family as well as online resources, such as legal directories and online reviews, to find a reputable criminal defense attorney in your area. 

Successfully expunging your record can help you get on the path to build a new life without previous circumstances weighing you down. With the help of a qualified lawyer, you can clear your record and move on successfully.

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