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What Are My Options to Clear My Criminal Record in Illinois?No one wants to have a stain on their personal record, no matter how minor or serious the charge is. It is fairly common to have a minor offense on your record from earlier in life that was likely the result of a lapse in judgment. However, a bad choice you made in your 20s should not determine who you are now. All arrests and charges, even those that end with a finding of not guilty, are included in your criminal record. Illinois recognizes one’s ability to change and offers citizens a second chance by allowing them to clear their record. While not an option for all offenders, there are three ways to clear a criminal record, each of which has its own requirements and benefits.

Expungement

If you would like your criminal record cleared, expunging the charges is the best way to accomplish this. If you meet all the qualifications and are approved by the court, the expungement will erase all arrests and court supervisions from your record, as if none of them ever happened. Anyone whose charges did not end in conviction, including orders of court supervision and special probation, can apply to have their records expunged but may have to wait years after the end of their supervision or probation before they are eligible. Illinois is unable to erase your record from federal and out-of-state charges.

Sealing

Most criminal convictions in Illinois are ineligible for expungement but can be sealed. While expunging your record completely erases the charges and arrests, sealing your records keeps them from the public eye. Because all criminal records are accessible to the public, sealing them can provide you with more privacy. Having your records sealed does not keep them a secret from everyone — law enforcement agencies and employers will still have access to these records. However, sealed misdemeanor convictions will not be visible to employers unless they are a law enforcement agency.

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