Sealing 101: The Basics of Sealing a Criminal Record in Illinois

Criminal records are created in several different ways. The State’s Attorney can file a complaint or obtain an indictment through a grand jury, and a warrant will be issued for your arrest. You can receive a ticket, show up to court, and be charged with an offense. You can also be arrested. A criminal record is created in each of these scenarios. Regardless of the outcome, once a criminal record is created, you must proactively petition for its removal.

When a record is sealed in Illinois, the record is no longer visible by most employers or other members of the public. However, employers who are legally required to conduct fingerprint background checks can view sealed felony convictions, but they cannot see sealed misdemeanor convictions or sealed cases not resulting in convictions. Sealed records may be seen by law enforcement agencies. 

To determine if a record can be sealed, the Law Offices of Hannah Garst will look at whether your case resulted in a conviction or non-conviction. Examples of convictions include prison or jail time, boot camp, probation, conditional discharge, time considered served or fines. Non-convictions may be usually be expunged, but convictions are limited to sealing. A limited number of misdemeanor and felony convictions remain ineligible: sex offenses, domestic batteries, violations of orders of protection, DUI, reckless driving (unless you were under the age of 25), and animal offenses. All other felonies, regardless of their class, are now eligible to be sealed.

After determining eligibility, the next question is whether the petition can be timely filed. If your case was dismissed (Nolle Prosequi, SOL, Non-suit, FNPC, FNG, or RWOC), you are eligible to file a petition immediately; there is no waiting period. If your case resulted in a conviction, the case may be sealed three years after the completion of your last sentence. The last sentence includes all cases, and the waiting period begins when your entire sentence is completed, including probation. There is one exception to the waiting period. If you earned a high school diploma, associate’s or bachelor’s degree, career certificate, vocational technical certificate, or GED while serving any part of your last sentence, you are eligible to seal your offense immediately. 

If you meet the criteria for sealing, the Law Offices of Hannah Garst, P.C., will prepare a petition to be filed in the county where the record was created. Sealing is discretionary and never automatic. Once the petition is filed, the State’s Attorney, the Village Prosecutor, and the Illinois State Police have 60 days to object to the petition. In many counties, if no objection is filed, the petition is granted. Some counties require a hearing regardless of any objection. If a party objects or a hearing is required, the Law Offices of Hannah Garst, P.C. will present your petition to the court along with evidence that supports your sealing. We will guide you through the sealing process and ensure that you receive the best possible representation by an experienced attorney. Call the Law Offices of Hannah Garst, P.C., for a free consultation to determine your eligibility.
 

Expungement 101: The Basics of Expunging a Criminal Record in Illinois

Criminal records are created in several different ways. The State’s Attorney can file a complaint or obtain an indictment through a grand jury, and a warrant will be issued for your arrest. You can receive a ticket, show up to court, and be charged with an offense. You can also be arrested. A criminal record is created in each of these scenarios. Regardless of the outcome, once a criminal record is created, you must proactively petition for its removal.

Expungement in Illinois results in the record being destroyed. Once a record is expunged, it is as if the offense never happened. To determine if a record can be expunged, the Law Offices of Hannah Garst will look at the sentence you received or how the court dismissed the case. Examples of dismissals include Nolle Prosequi, Stricken off with Leave to Reinstate (SOL), Non-suit, Finding of No Probable Cause (FNPC), Finding of Not Guilty (FNG), and Released without Charging (RWOC). Cases are eligible to be expunged if the outcome did not amount to a conviction. Examples of these outcomes include sentences of Supervision, 710-1410 Probation, TASC Probation, Second Chance Probation, and Offender Initiative Programs. Supervision for DUI, Reckless Driving after age 25, and sexual offenses involving a minor are not eligible for expungement. 20 ILCS 2630/5.2(a)(3)(A)). Upon completion of your sentence, the court must deem that it was “successfully completed” to be eligible to be expunged.

After determining eligibility, the next question is whether the petition can be timely filed. If your case was dismissed (Nolle Prosequi, SOL, Non-suit, FNPC, FNG, or RWOC), you are eligible to file a petition immediately; there is no waiting period. If you successfully completed supervision for an eligible offense, you must wait two years from the end of your sentence, the date when you completed the supervision. If you successfully completed a special program of probation, you must wait five years from the date you completed the program.

If you meet the criteria for expungement, the Law Offices of Hannah Garst, P.C., will prepare a petition to be filed in the county where the record was created. Expungement is discretionary and never automatic. Once the petition is filed, the State’s Attorney, the Village Prosecutor, and the Illinois State Police have 60 days to object to the petition. In many counties, if no objection is filed, the petition is granted. Some counties require a hearing regardless of any objection. If a party objects or a hearing is required, the Law Offices of Hannah Garst, P.C., will present your petition to the court along with evidence that supports your expungement. We will guide you through the expungement process and ensure that you receive the best possible representation by an experienced attorney. Call today for a free consultation to determine your eligibility. 

Do I need to expunge an ordinance violation?

Ordinance violations need to be sealed or expunged just like other criminal offenses. In Illinois, many villages and townships have their own village prosecutors. If you were arrested or ticketed by the local police department and charged with violating a local ordinance, you will likely be given a court date. At that point, a criminal record has been created. Regardless of what you have been told, the outcome will not affect the creation of your criminal record. It is your responsibility to have that record expunged or sealed.

When you appear in court, the village prosecutor (rather than the State’s Attorney) will be there prosecuting the case. Although you have been charged with an ordinance violation, these violations are criminal offenses. See 20 ILCS 2630/5.2(a)(1)(D). Illinois defines a municipal ordinance violation as “an offense defined by a municipal or local ordinance that is criminal in nature and with which the petitioner was charged or for which the petitioner was arrested and released without charging.” 20 ILCS 2630/5.2(a)(1)(H). In court, the outcome could include jail time, probation, supervision, specialized programs, fines, or dismissal. It is important to have representation at these hearings. Even if your case is dismissed, you will need to seal or expunge your record.

The Law Offices of Hannah Garst, P.C., can represent you at hearings for ordinance violations and assist you in sealing or expunging your record once the case is completed. Call today for a free consultation. (773)248-6504

Cook County Fee Waiver Program for Expungement is Extended Through 2018

The pilot program waiving the fee to be paid to file a petition to expunge certain cases in Cook County, Illinois, through the Criminal Identification Act, has been extended through 2018, up to January 1, 2019. Certain cases are eligible to waive the filing fee of approximately $150.92, which includes payment to Cook County and the Illinois State Police. Eligible cases include:

  • arrests resulting in release without charging (RWOC);

  • charges resulting in acquittal (not guilty);

  • charges resulting in dismissal (non-suit, stricken off with leave to reinstate (SOL), finding no probable cause (FNP));

  • charges resulting in a conviction when the conviction was reversed or vacated;

  • charges resulting in an acquittal (not guilty).

If you have ever been arrested or charged, and the case ended up being dismissed based on one of the outcomes listed above, contact the Law Offices of Hannah Garst, P.C., for a free consultation to determine your eligibility to expunge your case. Arrests or charges originating in Cook County, including the City of Chicago, may be eligible to be filed without payment of a filing fee through the end of 2018. 

I have a felony conviction. Can I vote in Illinois?

Yes! Illinois is one of the states that allow people with a felony criminal conviction to vote. The only exception to this rule is if you are currently incarcerated. This includes those who have been convicted, have been sentenced or are awaiting sentencing, and are serving time cannot vote. If you are on work release or prison furlough, you cannot vote until your time is completed. However, if you are being held in jail and have not yet been convicted, you have the right to vote. The statute covering this matter may be found at 10 ILCS 5/3-5.

If you have gone to prison and lost your right to vote, you will need to re-register to vote once you are released. This can be done online, by mail, or in person at your county board election office, the library, the county clerk's office, etc. In Illinois, a convicted felon has the same right to vote as every other citizen who resides in this state. 

If you are interested in determining whether your Illinois felony conviction can be sealed, contact the Law Offices of Hannah Garst, P.C., for a free case review. 

 

Illinois Waiting Periods to Seal Your Criminal Record

In Illinois, any time you are arrested or charged with an offense, a criminal record is created. This is true even if the case is dropped or you are found not guilty. These criminal records can be viewed by the public, including potential employers and landlords. One way to prevent the public from viewing your record is to seal your convictions. When a record is sealed, it cannot be seen by most employers or other members of the public. However, employers who are legally required to conduct fingerprint background checks can see sealed felony convictions, but they cannot see sealed misdemeanor convictions or cases not resulting in convictions. Your record still may be seen by law enforcement agencies.

Expungement is available for non-conviction sentences (i.e. acquittals, dismissals, supervision), and sealing is available for many convictions. Convictions include sentences of probation, conditional discharge, jail or prison time, time considered served, fines or ex-parte judgments, and unsatisfactory termination of supervision or probation. Eligibility for sealing your criminal record is dependent on when the case is completed and the date of your last sentence. Clients must wait 3 years from the completion of your last sentence of any conviction to file a petition to seal your criminal record. The Law Offices of Hannah Garst can help you determine if and when you are eligible to seal your record.  

There is one exception to the waiting period. If you earned an educational diploma, degree, or certificate DURING your sentence, supervised release, or parole, you may be able to seal eligible offenses upon the termination of the last sentence.

A limited number of felony convictions remain ineligible to be sealed: sex offenses, domestic batteries, violations of orders of protection, DUI, reckless driving, and animal offenses. All other felonies, regardless of their class, are eligible to be sealed.

Contact the Law Offices of Hannah Garst, P.C., to obtain a free case review to determine your eligibility to expunge or seal your record.

Illinois Waiting Periods for Expungement

In Illinois, any time you are arrested or charged with an offense, a criminal record is created. This is true even if the case is dropped or you are found not guilty. These criminal records can be viewed by the public, including potential employers and landlords. Expungement destroys the records of arrests, court supervisions, and some types of probation. All acquittals, dismissals, and satisfactorily completed non-conviction sentences are eligible to be expunged. Expungement in Illinois results in all of the records in your case being removed and destroyed, including all records in the possession of the Illinois State Police. 

Eligibility for expungement is dependent on when the case is completed. For acquittal and dismissals, including Nolle Prosequi, Finding of No Probable Cause, and Not Guilty, there is no waiting period to file a petition to expunge the criminal record. For SOL (Stricken off with leave to reinstate) and Non-Suit, the waiting period is 160 days from the date the case was dismissed. If you received a sentence of Supervision, and you satisfactorily completed it, there is a two-year-waiting period that starts on the date you completed supervision. If the supervision resulted from a Domestic Battery, Criminal Sexual Abuse, or an Insurance Violation, the waiting period is five years from the completion of the supervision. Cases where supervision was ordered for Reckless Driving, a DUI, or a Sexual Offense Against Minors cannot be expunged.

In drug cases, courts may order different types of probation, including 710-1410, TASC, Second Chance and Offender Initiative Program, which are expungeable if the probation or program is satisfactorily completed. The waiting period for these cases is five years from the final court date following the successful completion of the probation or program. When filed, a petition to expunge must include proof of a clean drug test that was taken within 30 days of the filing date.

There is one exception to the waiting period. If you earned an educational diploma, degree, or certificate DURING your supervision, probation, or program, you may be able to seal eligible offenses upon the termination of the last sentence. Sealing the offenses limits who can view your criminal background information. This helps many clients who are not immediately eligible for expungement due to the waiting period but need a clear background check to obtain employment or housing.

Expunge or seal your record today! Contact the Law Offices of Hannah Garst, P.C., today for a free case review.