Sealing Your Criminal Record

Sealing Your Criminal Record

Last updated: May 2014

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There are three possible ways to clear your criminal record:ExpungementSealingExecutive ClemencyExpungement is the best choice because it erases your criminal record. If you are sure that you cannot expunge your record, you may be able to have it sealed.When a record is sealed, it cannot be seen by employers or other members of the public. Your record can still be seen by law enforcement agencies or by the public if a judge orders that they can see it. Click on words that appear like 'this' to learn what these words mean.What options do I have to clear my criminal record? There are 3 possible ways to clear your criminal record:ExpungementSealingExecutive ClemencyExpungement is the best choice because it erases your criminal record. For more information on expungement, see the "Related Articles" section of this guide.If you are sure that you can't expunge your record, you may be able to have it sealed. You should only use executive clemency if you cannot have your criminal record expunged or sealed.What is sealing? When a record is sealed, it cannot be seen by employers or other members of the public. Your record can still be seen by law enforcement agencies or by the public if a judge orders that they can see it. Some employers can still see criminal records that have been sealed. Your criminal convictions can be seen if you apply to work at any of the following places:A hospital or schoolWith or around children As a firefighter, police officer, or other public jobAs a driver (your employer may see convictions related to driving or sobriety)What types of criminal cases can be sealed? Criminal records can only be sealed for adults or minors prosecuted as an adult. Also, you must have been prosecuted for a misdemeanor or municipal ordinance violation in which:You were acquitted; You were released without being convicted (including cases in which you were not charged);Your conviction was reversed; You received a sentence of supervision for a misdemeanor and (a) it has been at least 3 years since the termination of your last supervision and you have never been conviced of a criminal offense, or (b) you have been convicted of a criminal offense and it has been at least four years since the completion of your last sentence. You were convicted of a misdemeanor and it has been at least 4 years since your last conviction. Not all misdemeanors can be sealed. Violent crimes, sexual crimes, driving under the influence, reckless driving, and violations of the Humane Care of Animals Act cannot be sealed.FeloniesMost felony convictions cannot be sealed, but some "Class 4" and "Class 3" felonies can be sealed.Class 4 felonies that can be sealed include:Prostitution (720 ILCS 5/11-14)Possession of cannabis (720 ILCS 550/4)Possession of a controlled substance (720 ILCS 570/402)Theft (720 ILCS 5/16-1)Retail theft (720 ILCS 5/16-25(a) or 720 ILCS 5/16A-3)Deceptive practices (720 ILCS 5/17-1)Forgery (720 ILCS 5/17-3)Possession of burglary tools (720 ILCS 5/19-2)Offenses under the Steroid Control ActOffenses under the Methamphetamine Precursor Control ActClass 3 felonies that can be sealed include:Theft (720 ILCS 5/16-1)Retail theft (720 ILCS 5/16-25(a) or 720 ILCS 5/16A-3)Deceptive practices (720 ILCS 5/17-1)Forgery (720 ILCS 5/17-3)Possession with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance (720 ILCS 570/401)What types of criminal cases cannot be sealed? Felony convictions, except for the Class 4 and Class 3 felony convictions listed above.Convictions for the following misdemeanors cannot be sealed:Driving Under the Influence (625 ILCS 5/11-501)Reckless Driving (625 ILCS 5/11-503)Battery (720 ILCS 5/12-3) or Domestic Battery (720 ILCS 5/12-3.2)Assault (720 ILCS 5/12-1) or Aggravated Assault (720 ILCS 5/12-2)Reckless Conduct (720 ILCS 5/12-5)Criminal Sexual Abuse (720 ILCS 5/11-1.50)Violation of an Order of Protection (720 ILCS 5/12-3.4)Any other misdemeanor offense in Section 2 of the Crime Victims Compensation Act (740 ILCS 45)Soliciting a Sexual Act (720 ILCS 5/11-14.1) or Patronizing a Prostitute (720 ILCS 5/11-18)Public Indecency (720 ILCS 5/11-30)Any other misdemeanor offense listed under Article 11 of the Criminal Code (720 ILCS 5/11), with the exception of Prostitution (720 ILCS 5/11-14), which can be sealedAny offense that requires registration under the Sex Offender Registration Act (730 ILCS 150)Dog Fighting (720 ILCS 5/26-5)Class A misdemeanors under the Humane Care for Animals Act (510 ILCS 70), such as beating or tormenting an animal, or abandonmentIf some of the criminal offenses in your record do not qualify for sealing, the offenses that do qualify can still be sealed. The offenses that do not qualify for sealing will stay on your criminal record.How can I be sure I am listing all the cases I want to seal? You should get a copy of your rap sheet. To get your rap sheet, you must go to the police station. A lawyer cannot go for you. The police will take your fingerprints. Then they will print out your entire record for that police district and give it to you. You must pay a fee to get your records.For records in the city of Chicago, use the following information:Chicago Police DepartmentAccess and Review Division3510 S. Michigan Avenue, 1st Floor, 8:30 AM – 3:30 PMChicago, IL 60602312-745-5570Fingerprints taken: Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.Pick-up criminal history results: Monday-Friday, 2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.For records in the State of Illinois, use the following information:Illinois State Police (in Joliet, Illinois)Division of AdministrationBureau of Identification260 North Chicago StreetJoliet, IL 60431815-740-5160, extension 2743Order forms online at the Illinois State Police website.How do I seal my criminal record? In order to seal arrests, you must complete and file a "Petition to Seal Arrests" and an "Order to Seal Arrests" for the arrests you want to seal. You should list all the arrest cases that you want to seal on the petition.In order to seal convictions, you must complete and file a "Petition to Seal Convictions" and an "Order to Seal Convictions." You should list all the convictions that you want to seal on the petition.When you seal your criminal record, it is not an "all or nothing" action like expungement. You can seal some items while leaving other items on your record. This means that you can seal some items on your record, while waiting for the waiting period to expire on other items. Convictions that cannot be sealed do not prevent you from sealing eligible arrests or convictions that are on your record.What does it cost to seal my records? The costs vary depending on where you file. Check with the clerk's office where you are filing to get up-to-date costs. For more information on waiving court costs, see the "Related Articles" of this Guide. Can I get help sealing my record? Yes. The Office of the State Appellate Defender can answer questions about sealing records and provide guidance. They cannot represent you in court. You may call toll-free (866)787-1776 in Chicago or (866)431-4907 Statewide, or e-mail to Expungement@osad.state.il.us.If you live in Chicago, you can also speak with a lawyer at the Expungement Help Desk in Room 1006 of the Daley Center. The Help Desk is open Monday through Thursday from 9:00 am to noon. You must take a current rap sheet with you. What if I can't seal my record? If you do not qualify for sealing, then you can try to seek a pardon from the Governor through executive clemency. To file for an executive clemency, you must write a petition asking the governor to pardon the crime. To read more about clemency, please see the information under "Related Articles."Get a Copy of Your Rap Sheet from the Police Department You should get a copy of your rap sheet so that you can make sure to list all of the cases that you want to seal. Go to the police department yourself and ask for your rap sheet. This can only be done at the City of Chicago Building located at 4770 S. Kedzie, Chicago. You must go there between the hours of 8:30 am and 12:00 pm (noon) Monday-Friday. Bring your driver's license or State ID. The police will take your fingerprints to find your record. There is a $16.00 charge, pay in cash or money order.You will need to come back five or more days later to get your rap sheet. You have to pick it up yourself.If you do not pick up your record within one month, it will be thrown away. Then, you would need to start over again.Prepare Your Forms Complete the online form "Criminal Record Expungement or Sealing- Chicago Arrests Only" in the "Forms/Letters" section of this guide. After you answer questions about your convictions, this program will automatically create all the forms you need to seal your criminal record. If you have cases that happened in different places, you must file a separate Petition for each location.Decide Where to File Your Forms If your criminal cases happened in the city of Chicago, you must file your Petition and Order at:The Daley Center, Room 1006 or26th and California Criminal Courts Building, Room 526.If your traffic case happened in the city of Chicago, you must file at the Daley Center, Room LL-20.If your criminal or traffic case happened in a suburban district of Cook County, you must file your forms in that district. If you have cases that happened in different places, then you must file a separate Petition for each location.File Your Forms and Pay Your Fees Take all of your forms and copies to the Circuit Court Clerk’s office. The Clerk will keep the originals and “file stamp” your copies. You must pay a filing fee for each Petition you file. You can pay the fee with cash, check, money order or cashier's check.If you cannot afford to pay this fee you can ask the court to waive it. Go to the “Related Articles” section of this guide to learn more about filing for free.Once you have filed your petition, the Clerk of the Circuit Court will serve copies of the Petition. They will give copies to the State's Attorney or Prosecutor, the arresting agency, the Illinois State Police and the legal officer of the city.Wait 90 Days Once these agencies receive your Petition, they have 90 days to object to it. If they do not object, the court will enter an Order granting or denying the Petition.A Copy of Your Order Will be Sent to You in the Mail You will receive a copy of your Order in the mail. The Order will say if your Petition was granted or denied. If you don’t receive your Order in the mail, call the Clerk's Office for an update on the status of your case.If Your Petition is Granted The Clerk's Office will mail a copy of the court's Order to you and the four law enforcement agencies served with the Petition. The Clerk’s office will send you a notice that says you must pay a fee for each court Order to be processed. The Illinois State Police will not seal your record unless you pay this fee. If your court costs were waived, then you do not have to pay the fee. Send a copy of your Order to Sue or Defend as an Indigent Person to the State Police to show them that you don't have to pay the fee per Order.After the Illinois State Police receives the payment, they will send you a notice that your record has been sealed.Your records will also be sealed by the police agency that arrested you. You may have to pay another fee for this.If Your Petition is Denied If your petition is denied at the hearing, you may file a "Motion to Reconsider" within 30 days of the denial.For more information on filing a motion with the court, see "How to Prepare, File, and Present Motions in Court" in the Related Articles section of this guide. Get a Copy of Your Rap Sheet from the Police Department You should get a copy of your rap sheet so that you can make sure to list all of the cases that you want to seal.You must go to the police department yourself and ask for your rap sheet. The police will fingerprint you and give you a copy of your entire record. You should call the Police department first to find out if there are any special instructions.You will probably need to pay a fee between $10.00-$20.00, so bring cash.You may need to wait. Some larger police departments may take several days to get your rap sheet ready.Prepare Your Forms Complete the online form "Criminal Record Expungement or Sealing- Suburban Cook County" in the "Forms/Letters" section of this guide. After you answer questions about your convictions, this program will automatically create all the forms you need to seal your criminal record. If you have cases that happened in different places, then you must file a separate petition for each location.Decide Where to File Your Forms Your record will tell you which court handled the case you are trying to seal. You can use this map of the Cook County District Courts to help you find which district you should file in. Remember, you need to file in the district that your record is in, which is not necessarily the district you live in.You will need to file separate petitions for each suburban district. Some districts have slightly different procedures, so make sure you get to the right courthouse.If you are filing in a suburban district, continue with these steps. If you are filing in Chicago, you need to enter a Chicago zip code, such as 60608, in to this guide.The District Courthouses are located at:1st DistrictRichard J. Daley Center50 West Washington StreetChicago, Illinois 606022nd DistrictSkokie Courthouse 5600 Old Orchard RoadSkokie, Illinois 60077 (847) 470-72503rd DistrictRolling Meadows Courthouse2121 Euclid Avenue Rolling Meadows, Illinois 60008 (847) 818-30004th DistrictMaywood Courthouse1500 Maybrook DriveMaywood, Illinois 60153 (708) 865-60405th DistrictBridgeview Courthouse10220 South 76th AvenueBridgeview, Illinois 60455 (708) 974-65006th DistrictMarkham Courthouse16501 South Kedzie ParkwayMarkham, Illinois 60428 (708) 232-4551 File Your Forms and Pay Your Fees Take all of your forms and copies to the Circuit Court Clerk’s office. The Clerk will keep the originals and “file stamp” your copies. You must pay a filing fee for each Petition you file. You can pay the fee with cash, check, money order, or cashier's check.If you cannot afford to pay this fee, you can ask the court to waive it. Go to the “Related Articles” section of this guide to learn more about filing for free.Once you have filed your petition, the Clerk of the Circuit Court will serve copies of the Petition. They will give copies to the State's Attorney or Prosecutor, the arresting agency, the Illinois State Police, and the legal officer of the city.Wait 90 Days Once these agencies receive your Petition, they have 90 days to object to it. If they do not object, the court will enter an Order granting or denying the petition.A Copy of Your Order Will be Sent to You in the Mail You will receive a copy of your Order in the mail. The Order will say if your Petition was granted or denied.If you don’t receive your Order in the mail, call the Clerk's Office for an update on the status of your case.If Your Petition is Granted The Clerk's Office will mail a copy of the court's Order to you and the four law enforcement agencies served with the Petition. The clerk’s office will send you a notice that says you must pay a fee for each court Order to be processed. The Illinois State Police will not seal your record unless you pay this fee. If your court costs were waived, then you do not have to pay the fee. Send a copy of your Order to Sue or Defend as an Indigent Person to the State Police to show them that you don't have to pay the fee per Order.After the Illinois State Police receives the payment, they will send you a notice that your record has been sealed.Your records will also be sealed by the police agency that arrested you. You may have to pay another fee for this.If Your Petition is Denied If your petition is denied at the hearing, you may file a "Motion to Reconsider" within 30 days of the denial.For more information on filing a motion with the court, see "How to Prepare, File, and Present Motions in Court" in the Related Articles section of this guide. Get a Copy of Your Rap Sheet from the Police Department You should get a copy of your rap sheet so that you can make sure to list all of the cases that you want to seal.You must go to the police department yourself and ask for your rap sheet. The police will fingerprint you and give you a copy of your entire record. You should call the police department first to find out if there are any special instructions.You will probably need to pay a fee between $10.00-$20.00, so bring cash.You may need to wait. Some larger police departments may take several days to get your rap sheet ready.Prepare Your Forms Complete the online form "Criminal Record Expungement or Sealing- Suburban Cook County" in the "Forms/Letters" section of this guide. After you answer questions about your convictions, this program will automatically create all the forms you need to seal your criminal record. If you have cases that happened in different places, then you must file a separate petition for each location.Decide Where to File Your Forms Your record will tell you which court handled the case you are trying to seal. You can use this map of the Cook County District Courts to help you find which district you should file in. Remember, you need to file in the district that your record is in, which is not necessarily the district you live in.You will need to file separate petitions for each suburban district. Some districts have slightly different procedures, so make sure you get to the right courthouse.If you are filing in a suburban district, continue with these steps. If you are filing in Chicago, you need to enter a Chicago zip code, such as 60608, in to this guide.The District Courthouses are located at:1st DistrictRichard J. Daley Center50 West Washington StreetChicago, Illinois 606022nd DistrictSkokie Courthouse 5600 Old Orchard RoadSkokie, Illinois 60077 (847) 470-72503rd DistrictRolling Meadows Courthouse2121 Euclid Avenue Rolling Meadows, Illinois 60008 (847) 818-30004th DistrictMaywood Courthouse1500 Maybrook DriveMaywood, Illinois 60153 (708) 865-60405th DistrictBridgeview Courthouse10220 South 76th AvenueBridgeview, Illinois 60455 (708) 974-65006th DistrictMarkham Courthouse16501 South Kedzie ParkwayMarkham, Illinois 60428 (708) 232-4551File Your Forms and Pay Your Fees Take all of your forms and copies to the Circuit Court Clerk’s office. The Clerk will keep the originals and “file stamp” your copies. You must pay a filing fee for each Petition you file. You can pay the fee with cash, check, money order, or cashier's check.If you cannot afford to pay this fee, you can ask the court to waive it. Go to the “Related Articles” section of this guide to learn more about filing for free.Once you have filed your petition, the Clerk of the Circuit Court will serve copies of the Petition. They will give copies to the State's Attorney or Prosecutor, the arresting agency, the Illinois State Police, and the legal officer of the city.Wait 90 Days Once these agencies receive your Petition, they have 90 days to object to it. If they do not object, the court will enter an Order granting or denying the Petition.A Copy of Your Order Will be Sent to You in the Mail You will receive a copy of your Order in the mail. The Order will say if your Petition was granted or denied.If you don’t receive your Order in the mail, call the Clerk's Office for an update on the status of your case.If Your Petition is Granted The Clerk's Office will mail a copy of the court's Order to you and the four law enforcement agencies served with the Petition. The clerk’s office will send you a notice that says you must pay a fee for each court Order to be processed. The Illinois State Police will not seal your record unless you pay this fee. If your court costs were waived, then you do not have to pay the fee. Send a copy of your Order to Sue or Defend as an Indigent Person to the State Police to show them that you don't have to pay the fee per Order.After the Illinois State Police receives the payment, they will send you a notice that your record has been sealed.Your records will also be sealed by the police agency that arrested you. You may have to pay another fee for this.If Your Petition is Denied If your petition is denied at the hearing, you may file a "Motion to Reconsider" within 30 days of the denial.For more information on filing a motion with the court, see the Related Articles section of this guide. Get a Copy of Your Rap Sheet from the Police Department You should get a copy of your rap sheet so that you can make sure to list all of the cases that you want to seal.You must go to the police department yourself and ask for your rap sheet. The police will fingerprint you and give you a copy of your entire record. You should call the Police department first to find out if there are any special instructions.You will probably need to pay a fee between $10.00-$20.00, so bring cash.You may need to wait. Some larger police departments may take several days to get your rap sheet ready.Prepare Your Forms Complete the online form "Criminal Record Expungement or Sealing- Suburban Cook County" in the "Forms/Letters" section of this guide. After you answer questions about your convictions, this program will automatically create all the forms you need to seal your criminal record. If you have cases that happened in different places, then you must file a separate petition for each location.Decide Where to File Your Forms Your record will tell you which court handled the case you are trying to seal. You can use this map of the Cook County District Courts to help you find which district you should file in. Remember, you need to file in the district that your record is in, which is not necessarily the district you live in.You will need to file separate petitions for each suburban district. Some districts have slightly different procedures, so make sure you get to the right courthouse.If you are filing in a suburban district, continue with these steps. If you are filing in Chicago, you need to enter a Chicago zip code, such as 60608, in to this guide.The District Courthouses are located at:1st DistrictRichard J. Daley Center50 West Washington StreetChicago, Illinois 606022nd DistrictSkokie Courthouse 5600 Old Orchard RoadSkokie, Illinois 60077 (847) 470-72503rd DistrictRolling Meadows Courthouse2121 Euclid Avenue Rolling Meadows, Illinois 60008 (847) 818-30004th DistrictMaywood Courthouse1500 Maybrook DriveMaywood, Illinois 60153 (708) 865-60405th DistrictBridgeview Courthouse10220 South 76th AvenueBridgeview, Illinois 60455 (708) 974-65006th DistrictMarkham Courthouse16501 South Kedzie ParkwayMarkham, Illinois 60428 (708) 232-4551 File Your Forms and Pay Your Fees Take all of your forms and copies to the Circuit Court Clerk’s office. The Clerk will keep the originals and “file stamp” your copies. You must pay a filing fee for each Petition you file. You can pay the fee with cash, check, money order, or cashier's check.If you cannot afford to pay this fee, you can ask the court to waive it. Go to the “Related Articles” section of this guide to learn more about filing for free.Once you have filed your Petition, the Clerk of the Circuit Court will serve copies of the Petition. They will give copies to the State's Attorney or Prosecutor, the arresting agency, the Illinois State Police, and the legal officer of the city.Wait 90 Days Once these agencies receive your Petition they have 90 days to object to it. If they do not object, the court will enter an Order granting or denying the Petition.A Copy of Your Order Will be Sent to You in the Mail You will receive a copy of your Order in the mail. The Order will say if your Petition was granted or denied.If you don’t receive your Order in the mail, call the Clerk's Office for an update on the status of your case.If Your Petition is Granted The Clerk's Office will mail a copy of the court's Order to you and the four law enforcement agencies served with the Petition. The clerk’s office will send you a notice that says you must pay a fee for each court Order to be processed. The Illinois State Police will not seal your record unless you pay this fee. If your court costs were waived, then you do not have to pay the fee. Send a copy of your Order to Sue or Defend as an Indigent Person to the State Police to show them that you don't have to pay the fee per Order.After the Illinois State Police receives the payment, they will send you a notice that your record has been sealed.Your records will also be sealed by the police agency that arrested you. You may have to pay another fee for this.If Your Petition is Denied If your petition is denied at the hearing, you may file a "Motion to Reconsider" within 30 days of the denial.For more information on filing a motion with the court, see "How to Prepare, File, and Present Motions in Court" in the Related Articles section of this guide. Look up Your Criminal History and Get Your Rap Sheet Go to the court clerk's offices and look up your criminal history. You can also go to your local courthouse. Each courthouse will give you your history for its County. Print up the history if you can, or write down the case information. See the "Common Questions" section of this guide for more information on how to look up your criminal history. You should also get your “Criminal History Record Information,” or rap sheet. You can get your rap sheet from the Illinois State Police, Bureau of Identification located at:Illinois State Police, Bureau of Identification260 N. Chicago StJoliet, IL 60432 Or, visit their website and request it online. Not every county requires you to get your rap sheet, but it is usually a good idea to have it.Prepare Your Forms See the "Forms/Letters" section of this guide for a: Petition and Order to Seal ArrestPetition and Order to Seal ConvictionPetition to Seal Felony Drug ConvictionFill out the forms that apply to your case(s).You will also need a "Notice of Filing," which you can get at the courthouse.After you complete the forms, make 5 copies of each Petition, 1 copy of each Order, and 1 copy of each Notice.Decide Where to File Your Forms You must file your petition in the county where your case or arrest happened. If you have more than one case in more than one county, you will have to file separately in each county.File Your Forms and Pay Your Fees Take all of your forms and copies to the Circuit Court Clerk’s office. The Clerk will keep the originals and “file stamp” your copies. You must pay a filing fee for each Petition you file. You can pay the fee with cash, check, money order, or cashier's check.If you cannot afford to pay this fee you can ask the court to waive it. Go to the “Related Articles” section of this guide to learn more about filing for free.Once you have filed your Petition, the Clerk of the Circuit Court will serve copies of the Petition. They will give copies to the State's Attorney or Prosecutor, the arresting agency, the Illinois State Police, and the legal officer of the city.Wait 90 Days Once these agencies receive your Petition, they have 90 days to object to it. If they do not object, the court will enter an Order granting or denying the Petition.A Copy of Your Order Will be Sent to You in the Mail You will receive a copy of your Order in the mail. The Order will say if your Petition was granted or denied.If you don’t receive your Order in the mail, call the Clerk's Office for an update on the status of your case.If Your Petition is Granted The Clerk's Office will mail a copy of the court's Order to you and the four law enforcement agencies served with the Petition. The clerk’s office will send you a notice that says you must pay a fee for each court Order to be processed. The Illinois State Police will not seal your record unless you pay this fee. If your court costs were waived, then you do not have to pay the fee. Send a copy of your Order to Sue or Defend as an Indigent Person to the State Police to show them that you don't have to pay the fee per Order.After the Illinois State Police receives the payment, they will send you a notice that your record has been sealed.Your records will also be sealed by the police agency that arrested you. You may have to pay another fee for this.If Your Petition is Denied If your petition is denied at the hearing, you may file a "Motion to Reconsider" within 30 days of the denial.For more information on filing a motion with the court, see "How to Prepare, File, and Present Motions in Court" in the Related Articles section of this guide.

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