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Expungement of Criminal Records: Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much does it cost?

Getting your record expunged or sealed will cost you a filing fee at the courthouse plus $60 for the Illinois State Police. Some local law enforcement agencies may also charge a processing fee. Filing fees vary from county to county and may be obtained from the appropriate Circuit Clerk.

2. How long does it take?

At least a few months. The State gets 60 days to object to a Petition to Expunge or a Petition to Seal. How long your case will take also depends on the size of the jurisdiction you are in, whether there is an objection to your Petition and how long it takes to get your case on the docket. If the judge orders your record expunged or sealed, it can take up to 60 days for the law enforcement agencies to process the order.

3. What is a pardon?

A pardon is a type of executive clemency granted by the governor. It is considered to be an extraordinary remedy and is rarely granted. It only applies to cases which have resulted in a conviction. For more information, contact the Prisoner Review Board (even if you never went to prison) at (217) 782-7273.

4. What is the difference between Expunging and Sealing?

Expunged records are destroyed or returned to the petitioner. The agencies will destroy their records and remove all mention of your name from the public record.

Sealed records are maintained by the agencies. Most of the general public will not have access to the contents of the record. However, law enforcement will still have access to your records.

5. I was found not guilty. Do I still need to have my record Expunged?

Yes. Your criminal record contains all of your arrests, whether you were found guilty or not.

6. What is a conviction?

Any finding of guilt which results in regular pro-bation, conditional discharge, fine, time served or sentence of incarceration.

7. What is NOT a conviction?

Supervision, Nolle Prosequi (NP), Stricken Off with Leave to Reinstate (SOL), Finding of No Probable Cause (FNPC), Dismissed, Not Guilty or successful completion of special first offender drug probation or TASC probation.

8. Once my record is expunged or sealed, do I have to tell employers about it?

No. In Illinois, it is against the law for employers or potential employers (except those specifically allowed by law) to ask you whether you ever had any records expunged or sealed.

BUT if you have filed for your record to be expunged or sealed and the court has not ruled on it yet, you still have to disclose your criminal history on a job application if you are asked.

9. How will I know when it is Expunged or Sealed?

In most cases, you will get a response in the mail from the Court, the arresting authority and/or the Illinois State Police.

10. What if my petition is denied?

You can do one of two things. Within the first 60 days after your Petition is denied, you can petition the judge to reconsider. Alternatively, you may file a Notice of Appeal and take your case to the Appellate Court. The circuit clerk should have those forms.

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