Criminal justice reform is a hot topic of late, and thankfully, the Illinois legislature has finally come to the conclusion that if you truly want an individual to be able to fully rehabilitate and re-integrate into society, you have to give them a chance to ‘restore their good name.’ With the passage of HB 2373 which became effective on January 1, 2017, the Illinois legislature cleared the way for individuals with felony convictions to be able to expunge certain felony records. The full text of the statute can be found at 20 ILCS 2630/5.2, but we will attempt to distill it down to its main points here.
Generally, the law regarding the sealing of felony convictions mirrors the law for sealing misdemeanor convictions which means that all felony convictions, can be sealed except: domestic battery, battery or aggravated battery to an unborn child, violations of orders of protection, DUI, reckless and aggravated reckless driving, sex crimes, committing or attempting to commit crimes that would require registration on the sex offender registry, and crimes against animals under the Humane Care for Animals Act.
However, it is important that the individual seeking to have their records sealed be sure that they are ready to live a life on the straight and narrow because once an individual exercises his/her right to seal convictions under this law, no subsequent felony convictions can be sealed. Moreover, if a new felony conviction is committed after the sealing of previous records, the court can unseal all previously sealed records.