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.
In order to have a record sealed, the individual must wait for a minimum of 3 years after the end of their last sentence before filing their petition. This 3 year period can be bypassed through educational advancement (see 20 ILCS 2630/5.2(c)(3)(E)) if the client earned his/her GED, diploma, or other type of degree/certificate during the period of the individual’s sentence, aftercare release, or mandatory supervised release (sometimes called parole).
Regarding the expungement of criminal records, there are 4 main time periods which affect when an individual can make his/her petition. First, an individual may apply immediately after acquittal, dismissal, or release without charge, if a convictions is reversed or vacated, or if he/she obtains executive clemency or a certificate of eligibility for expungement as an honorably discharged veteran. Second, an individual may apply for expungement 160 days after a case is stricken with lease to reinstate. Third, an individual must wait to apply for expungement two years after having successfully completed supervision, unless the supervision was for: driving on a suspended license, criminal sexual abuse, or domestic battery in which case the individual must wait for five years. In a reckless driving case, if hte individual was under 25 when getting supervision, then after she/he attains the age of 25 the client may apply so long as she/he has no other convictions by the age of 25. Remember, expungement is not available in all cases where supervision was received including: reckless driving (over the age of 25), DUI, most sex offenses, domestic battery, and violations of Orders of Protections. Finally, for qualifying probations, like TASC, an individual may apply for expungement five years after successfully completing his/her qualified probation.
We find that often times when our clients are ready to put their past behind them, it is difficult for them to remember the dispositions for all of their past infractions. If you find yourself in this situation, we can help you obtain your Illinois record and review your sentences and convictions to determine if you are eligible to have items sealed or expunged. If you or someone you love is ready to put their life back on the right track, please call our office and one of our experienced attorneys will be happy to help restore your good name.