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The law changes on January 1, 2020 allowing those previously convicted of most misdemeanor cannabis possession charges to file a petition to expunge the arrest and charge.

On January 1, 2020 persons previously charged in Illinois with misdemeanor possession of cannabis can file to expunge both the arrest and charge.  Expungement of one's record means that the documents connected to the incident are permanently closed to public view and destroyed.  Only various arms of law enforcement may view such incidents after a petition to expunge is granted.  

When the law takes effect all misdemeanor possession charges of 30 or less grams will be automatically expunged.  If the charge was in excess of 30 to 500 grams a petition to expunge may be filed.  The law used to make any possession amount of over 30 grams a felony.  Then the law was modified to make a felony offense if more than 100 grams were possessed.  The law requires a person wait at least 2,3 or 5 years after their sentence is completed before filing a petition to expunge if the original charge was more than 30 grams.  


The process to begin an expungement are:

1.  Fill out a petition to expunge, pay the filing fees (they may be waived if indigent under S. Ct. Rule 298 or otherwise);

     The petition must contain your name, address, date of birth, case number, date of arrest, identity of the arresting authority, and         sometimes additional information if required by the court;

     If petitioning to expunge a drug felony the petitioner must also attach a copy of a drug screen proving no presence of drugs.   The screen results may not be more than 30 days old.

2.  Notice must be provided to the State, Illinoiis State police, local police who processed the case, and Chief legal officer of the police department who effected the arrest.  The Circuit Clerk provides these notices to the appropriate parties.

3.     All of the parties served have 60 days to file an objection to the petition to expunge.  If they fail to file an objection within that time frame the Court shall enter an order denying or approving the petition.  If an objection(s) are filed then the petition is set for a contested hearing no earlier than 30 days after setting it for hearing.

4.     The court considers the following when determining whether to grant the petition:

    Strength of evidence supporting the conviction;

    Reason for retention of conviction records by State;

     Petitioner's age, criminal history, and employment history;

    Amount of time passed between offense and hearing.

    Consequences the conviction has on the petitioner (i.e. work, housing).

5.    NEW LAW - all convictions/court supervisions/probation for minor cannabis offense will be automatically expunged if one year or more has elapsed since the date of arrest on the offense.  A minor cannabis offense is defined as nor more than 30 grams of cannabis.


It is important to take advantage of your right to expunge certain offenses.  If you do qualify to expunge it is a relatively simple process that takes approximately 4 months from filing of the petition to the order being granted.


Brian L. Polinske
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