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How can you expunge or seal your criminal record in Illinois?

If you have a criminal record, you likely understand the obstacles you might face as a result. Depending on your circumstances, you may have already paid fines and restitution, served time and fulfilled community service requirements. But after meeting the terms of your sentencing, you could still face problems related to getting into college, making housing arrangements and finding employment offers.

In some circumstances, you can petition the court to get your records expunged or sealed, to clear your record altogether or limit access from the general public. However, you may not be familiar with the steps you will need to take to make that happen.

3 Things you can do

When you want to clear your record, there are certain steps you will need to take. Although there are no guarantees, you can initiate the process after completing your sentence.

The necessary steps include:

· Get your documents together – Ask the police for copies of your criminal records. Your court documents show your arrest history, charges, and the outcomes of your cases. You will need to submit these documents to the court when you file your petition.

· Choose whether you would like your record expunged or sealed – Depending on the specifics of your case, you might be able to erase any arrest for which you were not convicted or in cases where your convictions were pardoned or reversed. Meanwhile, if at least three years have gone by since you completed your sentencing, you might be able to seal, or hide, your records.

· File your request to expunge and/or seal your records – Once you determine which of your offenses might qualify for expungement versus the ones eligible to be sealed, you can apply accordingly.

Prior to the passing of the Criminal Identification Act, many convictions removed your opportunity to petition for expungement. However, in most circumstances, you can now petition to clear your record.