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Expungement and Sealing Cases in Illinois

Lafata Law LLC

The process of expungement and sealing offers individuals with past criminal records a chance to move forward with a clean slate. These court actions provide relief from barriers associated with prior convictions. Governed by 20 ILCS 2630/5.2, expungement and sealing are legal actions that remove or restrict access to records of certain criminal cases.

Expungement vs. Sealing: Understanding the Difference

  • Expungement: Expungement involves the complete removal and destruction of records related to a criminal case. It effectively wipes the slate clean. Once a record is expunged, it is as if the arrest or conviction never took place, providing individuals with a fresh start.
  • Sealing: Sealing restricts access to records rather than destroying them entirely. Record are shielded from public view, while sealed records remain intact. Sealed records accessible only to law enforcement agencies and certain authorized entities. Sealing offers a level of privacy and protection.

Who Qualifies for Expungement and Sealing?

The eligibility for expungement and sealing is based upon various factors. Factors may include the nature of the offense, the outcome of the case, and criminal history. Generally, individuals qualify for expungement or sealing if:

  • They were arrested but not charged with a crime.
  • They were acquitted or had their charges dismissed.
  • They completed court supervision or certain diversion programs.

Certain offenses are ineligible for these remedies. Crimes that cannot be expunged or sealed include:

  • Serious violent offenses such as murder, sexual assault, and armed robbery.
  • Certain felony drug offenses.
  • Offenses involving domestic violence or abuse.
  • DUI dispositions.

This is not an exhaustive list. Contact our attorneys at 630-481-6633 to determine if your case is eligible for expungement or sealing. Some cases my be eligible for sealing, but not expungement. It is important to contact a competent attorney to determine if an expungement or sealing is right.

Procedural Requirements and Time Frames

Expungement and sealing process involves several procedural requirements and time frames. Individuals seeking relief must file a petition with the court. Also, they must provide documentation to substantiate their eligibility. The specific time frame for eligibility varies depending on the type of offense and the individual’s criminal history.

State’s Opportunity to Object

Expungement and sealing are not automatic. In fact, they are subject to review by the state. Upon filing a petition, the state prosecutor has the opportunity to object to the request, citing reasons such as public safety concerns or statutory limitations. If the state objects, a hearing may be held to determine the merits of the petition and whether expungement or sealing is warranted. The experienced attorneys at Lafata Law are well versed in both the rigorous filing requirements and expungement and sealing hearings.

If the state objects to the petition for expungement or sealing, the court will weigh the arguments presented by both parties before rendering a decision. If the objection is sustained, the petition may be denied, and the records will remain accessible. Conversely, if the objection is overruled or withdrawn, the petition may be granted, and the records expunged or sealed accordingly.

Results of Expungement and Sealing

Upon successful completion of the expungement or sealing process, the end result varies depending on the type of relief granted:

  • Expungement: Following expungement, records related to the case are destroyed. Any reference to the arrest or conviction is removed from official records maintained by law enforcement agencies, courts, and other entities.
  • Sealing: After sealing, records remain intact but are inaccessible to the general public. While certain authorized parties, such as law enforcement agencies, may still have access to sealed records under specific circumstances, they are shielded from public view.

Visibility of Expunged and Sealed Records

After an expungement is granted, records of the case are effectively erased from official databases. There is no indication of the arrest or conviction on the individual’s criminal record. Similarly, after sealing, the case remains on the individual’s record but is marked as sealed. This will restrict access to only authorized entities.

Expungement and sealing offer legal relief from criminal convictions. These legal remedies empower individuals to pursue opportunities for employment, housing, and education. While the process may be complex and subject to review by the state, the potential benefits far outweigh the challenges, offering a new beginning and a brighter future for those seeking a second chance. Contact our attorneys at 630-481-6633 to schedule a free consultation to determine whether an expungement or sealing is right for you.

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Proudly serving the following Illinois Counties: DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Cook and Will. Conveniently located near the DuPage County Courthouse. If you would like to visit us at our office, we are open Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. by appointment.

Wheaton Office
2100 Manchester Rd #C-1720

Wheaton, IL 60187

Phone: 630-481-6633

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