This is the next post in my series on the handling of first offenses in Peoria and other Illinois cities. My last article discussed the possible consequences of a first offense. It is important to understand that any criminal conviction can make it difficult for one to find housing or employment. Also, having a criminal record can result in one receiving a more severe sentence, for any future offenses, than they would have otherwise. Retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney is important for protecting your interests and helps to put you in the best position possible going forward. In this article, I will discuss the possibility of moving past a conviction by sealing or expunging your record. If you are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a Peoria criminal defense lawyer.
Expunging or sealing an Illinois conviction can help a defendant to move forward with their life. An “expungement” will result in the conviction being officially deleted from the public record. This means that it will not appear on a background and will no longer be available to law enforcement. “Sealing” a record, on the other hand, means that the record will still exist but it will be hidden from public view. While potential employers will not be able to see the record, it will still be available to law enforcement and certain government agencies. It is important to understand that, under state law, one is legally permitted to answer “no” when asked on an application if they have ever been convicted of a crime, if the record is sealed. This ability to answer “no” can greatly improve one’s life for obvious reasons.
Eligibility for expungement is typically limited. If one was arrested, but never convicted, then they can expunge the arrest from their record. They may also expunge their record if a conviction was reversed on appeal or if they were pardoned by the governor. The eligibility for sealing a record is much broader. In Illinois, most sentences can be sealed if at least three years has passed since the defendant’s sentence was completed; a “completed” sentence means that the defendant has completed their term of incarceration (if any) and is no longer under court supervision (probation). The process of sealing a record can seem straightforward. There are, however, obstacles which can arise. Failing to properly complete the Petition or not properly responding to an objection can result in the Court denying the request. Retaining an attorney to assist you can help to ensure that the process is handled correctly.
If you were convicted of a first offense, and believe you are eligible to seal or expunge your record, then contact my office today to speak with a Peoria criminal defense lawyer. I focus my practice on protecting the rights of the accused and I believe that people are entitled to a second chance. My office prides itself on providing a high level of service and we look forward to being of assistance. Contact us online or by telephone to schedule an appointment. My office also represents clients in Bloomington, Decatur, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington. We also serve the counties of Fulton, Knox, LaSalle, Marshall, Mason, McLean, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Stark, Tazewell, and Woodford.