A NEW FRONTIER IN ILLINOIS SEALING AND EXPUNGEMENT LAWAlmost half of all adults in Illinois have some sort of criminal record.[i] If you’re reading this blog, you’re already curious about the negative impact a criminal record can have on an individual’s lifetime potential. Historically, expungement and sealing of a criminal record in Illinois was extremely limited. Only nine felony offenses were eligible for sealing. Additionally, if you had even one conviction on your record, you could not receive an expungement. Governor Rauner flipped the script over the last two years with two new amendments (HB 2373 & HB 6328) to the Criminal Identification Act, 20 ILCS 2630. House Bill 2373 makes almost all felonies eligible for sealing, with the exception of a handful of criminal offenses. House Bill 6328 allows people with a prior conviction to petition for expungement. Robert J Callahan is a top Chicago criminal attorney.
As of August 24, 2017, you may petition for the sealing all convictions except for the following:
- Domestic battery
- Battery or aggravated battery on unborn children
- Violations of orders of protection
- Reckless and aggravated reckless driving
- Sex crimes
- Violating/attempting to violate the sex offender registry
- Crimes against animals under the Humane Care for Animals Act
- When records are sealed, the petitioner’s name is removed from any official index or public record on the case. The records are physically and electronically preserved but are unavailable to the public without a court order. Law enforcement and the court system will still have access to the records.
- Applicants must wait at least 3 years after completing their sentence before applying for sealing.
- Most importantly, upon sealing, you no longer have to disclose this conviction to employers. In fact, it is against the law for employers or potential employers to ask whether or not you’ve had any records expunged or sealed.[ii] Only employers required by state and federal regulations to conduct criminal background checks can require disclosure, such as a hospital, school, childcare, or government entity. For this reason, it is important to hire a qualified attorney to guide you through the sealing process.
Expungement:The major difference between expungement and sealing is the destruction or obliteration of the actual records.
- When a petition to expunge is granted the petitioner’s name is removed from any official index of public record and the records are actually destroyed. Prior to the enactment of House Bill 6328 in August of 2016, if you had any conviction on your record, you were disqualified from expungement.[iii] Thousands of people who were previously ineligible can now petition for expungement.
- Like sealing, you do not have to disclose an expunged offense to an employer. There is no waiting period for arrests that didn’t result in a conviction.
- Most misdemeanor offenses resulting in a sentence of supervision require a 2-year waiting period. Felony offenses eligible for expungement have a 5-year waiting period.