Michael Chomiak is a Chicago Expungement attorney with offices in Bridgeview & Chicago, Illinois.

Illinois law provides a way to erase certain criminal records. Eligible records can be expunged or sealed so that the public cannot see the records. The State’s Attorney’s office reviews applications and then forwards them to a presiding judge to enter the final determination or outcome. Expungements must be filed appropriately and go through a specific process to determine whether or not they will be allowed. Experienced Chicago criminal defense attorneys know the correct procedures and can help you get an expungement if you are eligible.

What is expungement?

An expungement is a way to make it so that the general public does not know about your criminal record. In Illinois, an expungement means destroying or returning to you any physical records and removing your name from official indexes and public record. Any records from the arresting agency are destroyed while the records at the circuit court are impounded. However, the records are still made available to the courts and law enforcement if you are arrested again on the same charge or if you are convicted for another crime.

Is an expungement the same thing as sealing?

Sealing is different from expungement. Sealed records are unavailable to the public, but are not destroyed. With sealing, your name is also removed from official indexes and public record. Additionally, law enforcement and the courts still have access to the records.

Why get an expungement?

When you get arrested you start a criminal record. In Illinois, the Illinois State Police records every arrest. Whether you are eventually charged or not, your arrest becomes a part of your criminal record. Even if your case is eventually dismissed or if you are found not guilty, you will still have a criminal record. Regardless of the outcome, any criminal record looks bad to potential employers and can have a negative impact on your life. Expungement gives you the opportunity to make it so potential employers or licensing agencies cannot see your criminal record.

What are the qualifications for expungement?

Your entire criminal record determines whether you qualify for an expungement. In order to qualify for an expungement:

  • you must have no open cases against you
  • you must have no convictions on your record

Two exceptions are:

  • honorably discharged veterans with a non-violent, non-sexual, non gun related Class 3 or 4 Felony convictions may be eligible for expungement (if it occurred before or during active service)
  • Successfully completed 2nd chance probations may be eligible for expungement

What dispositions are not considered convictions?

In legal terms, disposition is the final setting of matters. Any charges must have a final disposition entered before expungement can be considered. The following dispositions are not considered convictions and qualify for expungement:

  • Acquittal (Finding of Not Guilty)
  • SOL (Stricken with Leave)
  • FNPC (Finding of No Probable Cause)
  • NP (Nolle Prosequi)
  • No charges filed
  • Dismissal

The following dispositions may qualify for expungement:

  • Supervision (successfully completed)
  • Section 10, 410 (710 or 1410), 70 or TASC Probation (successfully completed)

Receiving supervision for the following charges means that you do not qualify for expungement:

  • Driving under the influence
  • Any sexual offense committed against a minor (under 18)

Supervision for a charge of reckless driving may be expunged if:

  • it occurred before your 25th birthday
  • you have no driving under the influence (DUI) or reckless driving convictions
  • you are 26 or older

Receiving supervision for the following charges mean that you have to wait 5 years from the time the supervision was discharged before you may qualify for expungement:

  • Operating an Uninsured Motor Vehicle
  • Suspended Registration for Noninsurance
  • Displaying of False Insurance
  • Failure of Scrap Dealer to Keep Records
  • Domestic Battery
  • Criminal Sexual Abuse (victim was 18 years of age or older)

Receiving supervision for any other crime not listed above requires a 2 year wait from the time the supervision was discharged until you may qualify for expungement.

Five years after you completed a Section 10, 410 (710 or 1410), 70 or TASC Probation , you may qualify for an expungement. The waiting period does not apply to second chance probation for the following charges:

  • Class 4 Possession of a Controlled Substance
  • Class 4 Possession of Methamphetamine
  • Class 4 Theft, if school, place of worship or government property
  • Class 4 Criminal Damage to Property
  • Class 4 Criminal Damage to Government Supported Property
  • Class 3 Theft
  • Class 3 Retail Theft

Who can object to an expungement?

Several agencies are made aware of any applications for expungement. They are given the opportunity for objecting to the expungement. The following agencies are able to make objections:

  • State’s Attorney’s Office
  • Arresting municipality
  • City Attorney’s Office for arresting municipality
  • Illinois State Police

Can anyone see expunged records?

The general public cannot see expunged records. If you are arrested again for the same crime, or if you are convicted for another offence, law enforcement and the courts can view the impounded circuit court record. No unauthorized viewers can see the records. Law enforcement and the courts must respond to any inquiries about expunged records as if the record never existed. There is no access to these records for the public, including potential employers.

How long does it take to get an expungement?

It will take at least several months to get an expungement. The court gets 60 days to review the case, and then law enforcement agencies have 60 days to process the order.
Do I have to appear in court to get an expungement?

If a court hearing is required, you may have to appear in court. This is determined by the circumstances of each case.

If I get an expungement, do I still have to disclose my criminal record to employers?

No. Once your record is expunged, you no longer have to disclose the information to employers. Make sure to disclose any record until the expungement is final. The law does not allow employers to ask if you have any sealed or expunged records.

Do I need an attorney to get an expungement?

Chicago expungement attorneys are available to help guide you through the expungement process. With any legal proceeding, appropriate forms need to be filed correctly in order to receive an expungement. Knowledgeable attorneys make the process simple because they know the system and understand correct procedures. Should your case require a hearing, a skilled attorney can make the process less confusing. If you have a criminal record that you would like to have expunged or sealed, contact Michael P. Chomiak, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney, to guide you through the process. He has the experience and skill to ease the process and get you the desired result. Contact his office today.