When a person is arrested for or charged with a crime, the relevant details appear on that person’s criminal record. Generally speaking, a criminal record is accessible to the general public, including family and friends, employers, banks and other organizations. Consequently, a criminal record can lead to serious consequences, personally and professionally. In certain circumstances, however, it is possible for a person to erase or hide his or her criminal record.
Expungement, Sealing and Executive Clemency
In order to erase or hide a criminal record in Illinois, there are three potential routes — expungement, sealing, and executive clemency. Below is a breakdown of important information for each of those methods.
- Expungement: This legal mechanism effectively erases a criminal record. After a successful expungement, the criminal record will disappear entirely. In the end, expungement makes it seem like the criminal record never existed in the first place.
- Sealing:This legal mechanism effectively hides a criminal record. The sealing process removes a criminal record from public view. But certain government and law enforcement organizations retain access to sealed criminal records.
- Executive Clemency: This legal mechanism is available to people who do not qualify for expungement or sealing. Executive clemency allows the governor to issue a pardon for criminal activity. In certain cases, the pardon can include authorization for expungement or sealing of the underlying criminal record.
Federal, Out-of-State and Civil Records
Expungement and sealing are not available in certain situations, including federal and out-of-state criminal records as well as civil case records. Please find below a breakdown of key exceptions to expungement and sealing in Illinois.
- Federal Criminal Records: It is not possible for the Illinois courts to expunge or seal federal criminal records. The Illinois courts do not have the required jurisdiction to do so. Instead, the U.S. Department of Justice handles expungement and sealing of federal criminal records.
- Out-of-State Criminal Records: It is not possible for the Illinois courts to expunge or seal out-of-state criminal records. The Illinois courts do not have the required jurisdiction to do so. Expungement or sealing will happen in the court system in the state where the criminal conduct occurred.
- Civil Case Records: It is not possible for the Illinois courts to expunge or seal civil case records. Civil cases do not occur in the criminal system. As a result, there is not a criminal record to expunge or seal.
Do You Need Legal Help?
No matter what the criminal offense, all criminal charges are serious. A sound strategy and an aggressive defense are essential for a positive outcome. To protect your rights in such situations, it is highly advisable to retain legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney.
The Prior Law Firm in Bloomington, Illinois, has proven experience in matters of criminal defense. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free consultation. You can reach The Prior Law Firm by phone at (309) 827-4300, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by completing an online form.
(image courtesy of Scott Webb)