EXPUNGEMENT LAW IN ILLINOIS
You’ve been charged, and maybe even plead guilty to an offense in the past. Now you discover the past charge continues to haunt you in your job search. It may have only been a misdemeanor or even a low level felony. Whatever the case may be, the fact is that a case, even a dismissed charge, can negatively affect your job/job search prospects.
Illinois created a statutory remedy titled an expungement in 20 ILCS 2630/5.2. The statute requires an expungement applicant have never been convicted of a criminal or municipal offense. One of the most asked questions is whether a person who has a felony conviction successfully petition the court for an expungement. The answer is no. Any prior conviction bars expungement, even for an offense that was dismissed. This legal hurdle precludes many potential applicants from succeeding in their expungement efforts. The statute is very lengthy and most troubling terms the judicial instruction portions as "shall". This means the court has vast discretion when determining whether to grant the petition to expunge. Also, various "violent" offenses are precluded from expungement.
If you qualify for an expungement (generally supervision sentence completion for misdemeanor offenses) the process is quite simple. The entire process usually only requires one court appearance and a filing fee that varies by county between ($126 to $200).
The actual process entails filling multiple forms requesting the expungement and checking the appropriate relief boxes. The forms are all similar to one another. Various facts such as ID numbers, etc. are required and must be placed in the appropriate place. The negotiation portion of the case is straightforward. Most prosecutors are able to agree to all eligible petitions. However, Madison County, Illinois has instructed their assistant prosecutors to object to all petitions regardless of whether the petitioner is eligible for the expungement. This fact is recognized by the bar and does not hinder the petition from going forward. As experienced defense attorneys we recognize what the trial court wants to hear from each of our clients during the hearing. We fully instruct each what they need to address with the court and in what manner their testimony is best received. I personally have discussed with the trial judge what she prefers to hear in terms of evidence prior to granting the petition to expunge. My clients have had great results during these hearings.