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. 

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.