No one in Illinois is perfect and from time to time people make mistakes. There are many different types of mistakes and many different consequences people face because of those mistakes. Some mistakes are more serious than others. For example, some mistakes can lead to people being fired from their jobs, losing friends and in some situations can lead to criminal charges. If people end up being convicted of those criminal charges, the consequences can affect them for a long time.
Criminal charges and convictions are considered public record, which means that future employers and landlords can see if a person has been charged and convicted of a crime. This means that the criminal convictions could prevent people from getting a job or apartment that they wanted to get and would have gotten if it were not for the criminal conviction. In many instances the criminal conviction was also a one-time mistake and is not a true indication of who the person is today.
People who find themselves in this situation may be able to have their criminal records expunged or sealed. An expungement means that the record is erased, while records that are sealed are hidden. However, only certain crimes are eligible for sealing.
Charges that can be sealed include but are not limited to: felony traffic offenses if the charges were reduced to a misdemeanor; misdemeanor public indecency; and most felonies and misdemeanor convictions after three years elapsed from the end of the sentence. Convictions that cannot be sealed are DUIs, domestic battery and other domestic related convictions, soliciting prostitution and others.
Many people have committed crimes in their past, but they have since made changes and are no longer the same people. However, people's convictions can stay with them for a long time and affect different aspects of their lives. People may be able to seal their records though, so the records are not seen by employers and others. Experienced attorneys understand the importance of sealing records and may be able to guide people through the process.