Young man in handcuffs

A felony conviction can follow you for the rest of your life. It shows up on background checks, which means that you’ll have to disclose it, and many people can end up seeing it. It can make it more difficult to get and keep a job, and it can altogether prevent you from applying for certain types of jobs. With this in mind, Illinois has made it easier to move on after a felony conviction, at least for some, by making more felony convictions sealable.

Expungement and sealing laws are somewhat complicated and hard to explain because they apply differently depending on a person’s prior record, type of offense and outcome of the case.  The general rule has been that you can’t clear your record of felony convictions. There was a very narrow exception for Class 4 felony drug possession and prostitution convictions. Those were eligible for sealing.

The list of exceptions has recently been expanded. The following non-violent felonies are now eligible for sealing in Illinois:

– Class 4 felonies: prostitution, possession of cannabis, possession of a controlled substance, offenses under the Methamphetamine Precursor Control Act, offenses under the Steroid Control Act, theft, retail theft, deceptive practices, forgery, possession of burglary tools

– Class 3 felonies: theft, retail theft, deceptive practices, forgery, and possession with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance

Convictions of these felonies can be sealed four years after the end of the individual’s sentence. Any subsequent felony convictions cannot be sealed, and if there is a second felony conviction, the prior sealed conviction may be unsealed. A petition (request) to seal a record is filed with the clerk of the court.

There might be a hearing, if the prosecution or police files an objection. At the hearing, the judge may consider several things when making a decision, including the evidence supporting the conviction, the reasons why the prosecutor is opposed to sealing the record, the defendant’s age, criminal history and employment history, how much time has passed and the “adverse consequences the petitioner may be subject to if the petition is denied.”

Sealed convictions do not show up on employer background checks, and employers are not allowed to ask about sealed criminal records.

If you want to know if your record in Illinois can be sealed or expunged, give us a call or fill out our contact form and you can talk with one of our experienced attorneys for free.