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Sealing your Criminal Record in Illinois

Criminal record

In a previous post, we described the process for expunging a criminal record in the state of Illinois. By expunging a criminal record, past charges and convictions are removed entirely from your record. However, if you do not qualify to expunge certain charges, you may still qualify to seal your criminal record. Read on to determine how.

What’s the difference between expunging and sealing?

Expunging a record removes certain charges and offenses from the record entirely. Not only can an average person running a background check not see them; the charges no longer exist even within public records and official indices. When your record is sealed on the other hand, those sealed convictions and charges still exist. However, they are not visible to the public without use of a court order. Police officers will still be able to see the convictions, as will courts, and a small number of employers.

Who qualifies to seal their criminal record?

Unlike expunging, sealing a criminal record is available even if you have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor that is not a first offender drug offense. Certain Class 4 felony convictions are available for sealing, including prostitution, possession of a controlled substance, theft, forgery, and possession of burglary tools, as well as Class 3 theft, forgery, and possession with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance. While the amount of time from the end of your sentence or supervision you must wait to file a petition to seal your record varies depending on the class of the conviction, the time limit is generally three or four years.

Other Class 3 or Class 4 felonies which don’t include violence, and are not sex- or gun-related, are also available to be sealed, so long as it has been 5 years since the end of your most recent sentence, and you have not had contact with the criminal justice system since then. You will need to submit a special Certificate of Sealing for these convictions.

Nearly all misdemeanors are available for sealing, with the exception of certain misdemeanors that are sex-related, driving under the influence, or animal-related (dog fighting or inhumane care for animals).

The process for sealing a criminal record is similar to that of expunging a record, in that you will need to gather all applicable records and complete a petition, file a copy with the appropriate court, and possibly attend a hearing. Hiring an attorney to handle this process can help to ensure you have submitted a complete petition to seal your record, and improve your chances of showing that you are an excellent candidate for sealing.

If you are seeking to seal or expunge your criminal record in the state of Illinois, contact Chicago-area criminal defense attorney John Fairman for a consultation on your case, at 708-799-4848.

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