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Expungement and Sealing

What is Expungement?

Expungement is the process by which you can erase, destroy, or seal a criminal case from the public record. Illinois law allows you to expunge criminal case from the public record. But the rules regarding what can be expunged and what cannot be expunged are strict and complex. 

If you are able to expunge a criminal record case from your past, this means that the case, and the criminal charges, will not appear on a background search. Expungement is something that anyone who has ever been charged with a criminal case should explore and look into. Even if your case was dismissed, the arrest and the criminal charges will appear on a routine background search. If you expunge the case, the arrest and the charges will not appear on a routine background search. Even if you were found guilty of a criminal charge, or plead guilty, you may be able to expunge and remove the case from your record. However, depending on your particular case, you may have to wait 2 or 5 years before being eligible to file a Petition to Expunge. In some cases, you may be able to file a Petition to Expunge immediately. Let's talk about when you can file a Petition to Expunge immediately:

When Can You File A Petition to Expunge IMMEDIATELY?
  • Not Guilty Finding: If your case went to trial in front of a Judge or Jury and you were found Not Guilty, you can file a Petition to Expunge immediately.
  • No Probable Cause: If you had a Preliminary Hearing or if a Grand Jury found no probable cause, you can file a Petition to Expunge immediately.
  • Nolle Prosequi: This happens when the state declines to prosecute you after you were arrested. This is basically a dismissal of the case. If this happens, you can file a Petition to Expunge immediately.
  • SOL: If your case was SOL’d, this means that your case was Stricken on Leave to Reinstate. This basically means that your case was dismissed. If your case was SOL’d, you will be able to file a Petition to Expunge immediately.
Cases That Can Be Expunged After 2 Years

Most Misdemeanors in which you received Court Supervision can be expunged 2 years after successful completion of Court Supervision. However, a DUI can never be expunged from your criminal record even if it was your first DUI and you received Court Supervision. You can never expunge any case for a sexual offense committed against a minor.

Cases That Can be Expunged After 5 Years

You have to wait 5 years before expunging the following cases:

  • Driving an Uninsured Motor Vehicle.
  • Displaying False Insurance.
  • Reckless Driving.
  • Criminal Sexual Abuse (Not Involving a Minor).
  • Aggravated Battery of a Child.
When Can You File a Petition to Expunge a Retail Theft?

If the Retail Theft case was dismissed, you can file a Petition to Expunge immediately. If you received Court Supervision for your Retail Theft, you will not be able to file a Petition to Expunge for at least 2 years after your Court Supervision was successfully completed. This is important because even if the case was dismissed, a shoplifting charge could make it very difficult to get a job. Many employers will not hire you if they find out that a shoplifting, or theft charge was made against you. Expungement of the case will remove the possibility that a prospective employer could find out about the charges. A current employer may find out about the charges if they do a background search. Some employers will fire you if they find out that someone claimed that you stole something.

What is Sealing?

If your record is sealed, this means that your record will be removed from the public record. Employers or private individuals doing a background search will not be able to see the case. However, law enforcement and Court Personnel will be able to see the record. While sealing may not be as good as expungement, sealing your record would allow you to pass a routine background search. If you are unable to expunge, you may be able to seal your record.

You may be eligible to seal certain felonies. If you are convicted of certain Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Controlled Substance charges, you may be eligible to have your record sealed. You may also be able to seal your record if you were convicted of Prostitution. In order to be eligible to seal these felonies, you must not have any felony or misdemeanor convictions for at least four (4) years after you completed your sentence.

You may be eligible to seal a misdemeanor conviction as long as you do not have any felony or misdemeanor convictions for at least four (4) years after you completed your sentence.

Can I Expunge or Seal My Driving Record?

No. Expungement and Sealing only involve criminal cases. There is no process by which you can have anything removed from your driving record. A DUI cannot be sealed or expunged in Illinois. You cannot remove a DUI from your Illinois Secretary of State driving record even if the DUI was dismissed or reduced to a Reckless Driving. Any tickets or citations that you receive will be reported to the Secretary of State and will appear on your driving record and there is no way to have anything removed from your driving record.

Can a Felony Case Be Expunged?

Unless the felony was dismissed, or a Judge or a Grand Jury found no probable cause, as a general rule, you cannot expunge or seal a felony unless it involves a felony listed above. Expungement and sealing are generally reserved for misdemeanors with very few exceptions.

How Do I Begin the Expungement and Sealing Process?

First, do you need to determine whether you can seal or expunge your case. If you are eligible to expunge or seal your case, you need to file a Petition to Expunge or a Petition to Seal in the courthouse at which your case was at. If the paperwork is not filled out correctly, or if you do not follow the strict rules, your Petition may be denied. James Dimeas has been filing Petitions to Expunge and Petitions to Seal for over-29 years throughout Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County and Lake County. James Dimeas knows the expungement and sealing laws and will let you know whether you are eligible to have your case expunged or sealed. James Dimeas will prepare all the necessary paperwork and follow the strict expungement and sealing rules to make sure that your Petition is granted and the case is completely removed from your record so that you could pass a background search and move on with your life.

Since the Chief Judge in each Courthouse will make the final decision regarding whether you will be allowed to Expunge or Seal your case, you may be required to appear in Court after the expungement and sealing paperwork is filed.

Each county and each courthouse, have their own forms, rules, and unique procedures for expungement and sealing. Since James Dimeas has filed thousands of expungement and sealing petitions in every county and every courthouse throughout Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, and Lake County, he knows exactly what needs to be done to make sure that your expungement and sealing is successful. If you are required to appear in court, James Dimeas will appear with you and will make sure that your case is presented properly before that particular judge, in that particular courthouse, in that particular County.

Hire a Great Lawyer to Seal and Expunge Your Criminal Record

James Dimeas is a nationally-recognized, award-winning, expungement and sealing attorney. James Dimeas has over-29 years of experience handling expungements and sealings throughout Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, and Lake County. Recently, the American Society of Legal Advocates named James Dimeas a "Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer in the State of Illinois For the Year 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021." Attorney and Practice Magazine gave James Dimeas the "Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorney Award for Illinois," and the "Top 10 DUI Defense Attorney" award. The National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys gave James Dimeas the "Top 10 Attorney Award for the State of Illinois." AVVO rates James Dimeas as "Superb," 10 out of 10, the highest rating possible for any expungement or sealing lawyer in the United States. Expertise named James Dimeas a "Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Chicago." James Dimeas is a "Best DUI Attorney." The American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys named James Dimeas a "10 Best Attorney for Client Satisfaction." The National Trial Lawyers named James Dimeas a "Top 100 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer."

If you are looking to expunge or seal a case or clear your criminal record, you can contact James Dimeas anytime for a free and confidential consultation. You can speak to James Dimeas personally by calling 847-807-7405.

Client Reviews
I got into an argument with my ex-boyfriend. One thing led to another and when he came close to me I pushed him away. He called the police and when I spoke to the police I told them that I pushed him without realizing that you don't have to hit someone to be charged with a Domestic Battery. Being arrested was terrifying. I spoke to several attorneys who promised they would win the case and were charging a ridiculous amount of money. A friend referred me to James Dimeas. He was straightforward and honest with me and charged me a very reasonable and affordable fee. He got me into the Kane County Deferred Prosecution Program. I successfully completed the program and I just received paperwork in the mail that the case has been expunged and completely removed from my record. I highly recommend Jim Dimeas. He is an honest and straightforward lawyer that will look out for your best interests. E.A.
Had a DUI and hired a lawyer who lived in my building that I knew for years and trusted. Thought he was my friend. Paid him (more than I should have) and he handled my case for almost a year and totally screwed it up. I fired him and found out that he had given up his law license around the time I hired him. A friend recommended James to me and he took over my case and handled it the way it should have been handled from the beginning. I cannot stress how HIGHLY I recommend James Dimeas. I wish I would have hired him from day one. He answered all my calls and text messages and cleaned up a royal mess that had been created by the previous guy that I thought was a lawyer. I consider James to be a friend and recommend him to all of my friends. What a great lawyer and an even better guy! J.P.
I had been accused of doing something, by my then wife, that I did not do. I was 100% innocent and was at the lowest point in my life. My mother told me to call James Dimeas. Her friend recommended him to her. James fought for me in court and refused to back down, even when the prosecution offered to lower the charges and make me plead guilty. I refused to plead guilty to something I did not do. The case went to trial and James won my case. I was found not guilty because I was NOT GUILTY. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND JAMES DIMEAS! Not only is he a great lawyer, but he is also a great human being. The truth shall set you free! C.D.
James Dimeas is a great lawyer who knows what he is doing and will guide you through every step of the process. He will go above and beyond what he needs to do to help you out. Sometimes I would text him in the evening or the weekend with a question and he would always respond. Really made me feel like he cared about me. When we went to court he tore apart the girl that was making false allegations against me and he won my case. That was one of the greatest day of my life. If you need legal help, the only lawyer should call is James Dimeas. Highly recommended! E.L.
I am so lucky to have stumbled upon this great attorney. I made a really stupid mistake at the worst time. I needed to get a case dismissed within 2 or 3 weeks so I could join the military. I could not leave for Basic Training until the case was dismissed and Jim made some calls and got the case dismissed. What a great guy. I’m so lucky I found him online and called him! Somebody was looking out for me. J.S.