Under Illinois law, certain criminal records can be removed through a process of expungement. This can only happen if an individual is eligible to do so, usually depending on the nature of the crime. For this to happen, that individual must petition the court to have those records removed from public access, otherwise the record remains public.
A court evaluates the petition by determining if the harm from the criminal record to the individual exceeds the harm to the public from destroying the record. If a judge decides to grant the petition, there are one of two possible outcomes: the judge may decide to have the record expunged or sealed.
If a judge decides to seal the criminal record, then the only ones with access to the record are law enforcement officials. The general public will usually not have access and it will be vacant from any public listings. One the other hand, the judge may grant an expungement. This means that the record is erased as if it had never existed. This involves returning all physical documents to the petitioner, including fingerprint documents, police reports and photographs that were created during the arrest. In addition, the court clerk erases all known records, including physical and electronic records.
The Illinois law on expungement states that in order to expunge a criminal record, one or more of the following must be true:
● The defendant has been found not guilty of the crime;
● The defendant was released in terms other than conviction;
● There was no finding of probable cause;
● The case was nolle prosequi, meaning that the State's Attorney dismissed the case;
● A conviction or sentence placed on the defendant was later set aside by the court;
● The Governor of Illinois issued a pardon on the defendant;
● The defendant has been ordered supervision and two years passed after completion of the supervision;
● The case involved one of the following and five years has passed since completion of supervision:
● Uninsured motor vehicle
● Suspended registration
● Having false insurance
● Reckless driving
● Retail theft
● Possession of marijuana and other controlled substances.
There are some cases which are not qualified for Illinois expungement. These include:
● A defendant is found guilty;
● The defendant is given probation;
● The defendant is given a sentence of supervision or conviction for a sexual offense against a minor;
● The defendant is given conditional discharge;
● The defendant is given a DUI supervision