Expunging criminal records in Illinois

Illinois has one of the nation’s broadest expungement statutes in the nation, but some of its provisions can be difficult to understand. In this post, the basic requirements of expungement will be set forth.

An expungement is an order by the court that directs the agency having custody of a person’s criminal records to destroy the records. The practical effect of such an order is to permanently scrub the arrest and conviction of the person in question from that person’s criminal records.

The basic requirements for expungement are straightforward. The petitioner must never have been convicted of a criminal offense. Each arrest sought to be expunged must have resulted in: (a) an acquittal or dismissal, (b) prisoner’s release without charging, (c) a conviction which was vacated or reversed. These requirements apply to the crime for which expungement is sought. If no order of supervision was issued by the court, a petition for expungement may be filed at any time. If an order of supervision was issued, the petitioner must wait two years after successful completion of probation to file a petition for expungement. Traffic offenses require a somewhat longer waiting period depending upon the petitioner’s age and the type of offense.

Certain crimes are not eligible for expungement. The list of ineligible crimes and exceptions is too long for this post, but the list includes conviction of any sexual offense against a minor, driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, and aggravated reckless driving. Minor traffic offenses cannot be expunged unless the petitioner was arrested and released with a charge, but only the arrest records may be expunged in these instances.

While the state of Illinois has attempted to make the expungement process as simple as possible, anyone contemplating the filing of a petition for expungement may wish to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney for advice on what information to include in the petition and offer as supporting evidence.