Getting a fresh start through an Illinois expungement

Expungement allows you to "erase" entries from your criminal history.

Expungement is a statutory process that allows certain arrests or criminal convictions to be removed from someone's criminal record. Once you have successfully expunged an entry, it will be like it never happened. An expunged record will either be physically destroyed or will be returned to you in its entirety. It won't show up on criminal background checks, and cannot be used against you for purposes of job, housing or finance applications. In addition, law enforcement and the courts cannot use an expunged record of arrest or conviction (or a guilty plea) against you as an aggravating factor for purposes of sentencing.

If your records are sealed instead of expunged, then they still won't be discoverable by the public, but they will remain for law enforcement agencies to see. This means that judges could consider any prior criminal offenses committed over the age of majority when determining appropriate sentencing for future crimes.

What do I need to know about expunging an arrest or conviction?

First and foremost, it is very important to remember that not all arrests, convictions and other dispositions are eligible for expungement. This could be the case even if you were found not guilty or if you were wrongfully arrested. The record of many misdemeanor-level crimes, though (and even a few selected felonies) are eligible.

For more information about the types of criminal history information that can be expunged, see the full text of the relevant Illinois statute at 20 ILCS 2630/5.2. This law provides information about the specific types of arrest and adjudication information that is eligible for expungement or sealing. There are some types of records that can be expunged, some that can be sealed, and some that are not eligible for any type of post-conviction modification. Offenses that are ineligible include serious felonies like murder and aggravated assault, as well as lower-level citations like most speeding tickets.

Some offenses, including many involving supervision or probation as part of the punishment upon conviction or the entry of a plea, require a two-year or five-year waiting period before an expungement is possible. There are also other criteria, such as not having been charged with or convicted of other crimes in the interim, as well as not having any pending criminal matters at the time an expungement is sought.

The process of expungement can be difficult to navigate, and it can seem overwhelming even trying to determine how to get started. Being able to clear your record, however, and be able to truthfully say that you don't have a criminal history, is invaluable. This could open doors for your future. To make the process go more smoothly, and with less stress on you, hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to handle the expungement on your behalf. In the Edwardsville area, call on The Law Office of Jessica Koester, LLC. Contact the firm online or reach them by phone at 618-307-4192.