Dramatic Revisions to Illinois Expungement Laws effective January 1, 2017

Happy New Year everyone! I have some very exciting changes to the Illinois Criminal Identification Act (ICIA) to discuss here, with regard to both expungement and sealing.  Regarding expungement, pursuant to Public Act 099-0881 and the newly revised 20 ILCS 2630/5.2(b)(1) et seq., a person who has one or more non-expungeable criminal offenses on his or her record may now petition the circuit court to expunge other expungeable records, including arrests or charges not initiated by arrest that resulted in acquittal, dismissal or petitioner’s release without charging (subject to exclusions), a reversed or vacated conviction (subject to exclusions), an order of supervision where that supervision was successfully completed by petitioner (subject to exclusions), or an order of qualified probation (as defined by the ICIA) where that qualified probation was successfully completed by petitioner. The bottom line with regard to this substantive change in law is that a person wanting to petition the circuit court for expungement may now do so in certain cases even if he or she has previously been convicted of a criminal offense! There is no more “all or nothing” analysis – i.e., where previously if a petitioner had even a single conviction on his or her criminal record that petitioner would not be eligible to petition for expungement on any Illinois case!

Additionally, the ICIA now provides, pursuant to Public Act 099-0881 and the newly revised 20 ILCS 2630/5.2(d)(1.5), that in Cook County a petitioner may file his or her petition to expunge or seal with the circuit court free of charge where the records to be expunged or sealed were arrests resulting in release without charging or arrests or charges not initiated by arrest resulting in acquittal, dismissal or a conviction that was subsequently reversed or vacated (subject to exclusions) during the 2017 calendar year.  In other words, the legislature is now allowing for no-fee filing in Cook County on a petition to expunge or seal in certain circumstances!

As always, the ICIA is complicated to navigate alone, as even experienced legal practitioners sometimes have questions about the meaning of certain provisions contained therein (there is very little case law on point that may be used for guidance).  Though a petition to expunge or seal may be prepared and filed pro se, as always, it truly is in your best interest to contact an attorney who focuses his or her practice on this area of law so as to give yourself the best chance at success in court.  I am always happy to give prospective clients free consultations on this subject as well as several others, including post-conviction proceedings and general criminal and traffic defense.