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. 

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.