Do I qualify to get my record expunged?
There is a lot of misinformation out there concerning expungements in Illinois. I get many phone calls from people who assume they are eligible for expungement but they are not. Here, I will attempt to give a little more information about expungements. This is by no means a full explanation of expungements, just some common mistakes I get calls about.
The only cases that can be expunged from your record are as follows:
1. arrest that were dismissed by the State, cases where you were found not guilty;
2. misdemeanor cases where you successfully completed a period of supervision for SOME offenses;
3. felony drug possession cases where you successfully completed expugnable probation;
4. Cases that have been pardoned by the Governor of the State of Illinois.
Most of the cases that I see seem to be #2 and #3. First of all, you must successfully complete your period of supervision or expugnable probation to even qualify for expungement. This means that you must have done all your community service, SWAP, paid all fines or restitution and not picked up any new cases. Even then, there is a waiting period to get certain offenses expunged. If you received supervision for offenses such as retail theft, domestic battery or criminal sexual abuse, you must wait five years. If the offense is battery, assault, criminal damage to property or misdemeanor cannabis, the waiting period is 2 years. If the offense is a DUI, reckless driving or any sexual offense involving a minor under 18, you can NEVER expunge it.
This is by no means a comprehensive list; please consult an attorney if your offense has not been covered. But keep in mind, if you received a conviction or your supervision was terminated unsatisfactorily, the ONLY way to expunge the offense is from a pardon from the Governor. You may however be eligible to seal the offense from employers, but that record will be available to law enforcement for the rest of your life.
With today’s job market as bad as it is, whether or not the offense you are charged with is expungable is definitely a question you want to ask before pleading guilty. I will discuss Sealing in the next blog entry.