Criminal convictions can be a real problem for you even after you have served out whatever sentence was required. You may find an employer does not trust you, or that you were denied a professional license, or a place of higher learning has doubts about your fitness as a student. Fortunately, some criminal convictions can be hidden from public view in Illinois so that a potential employer does not find out about them. This is known as expunging a criminal record.

FindLaw provides some general background on expunging records. Generally, it means that a criminal conviction that would ordinarily show up as part of background check conducted by a university or college, an employer, or a residency landlord will generally not appear. Also, a person is not legally required to disclose expunged criminal convictions. So if you were asked if you were convicted of a crime, you may legally reply that you have not.

Some offenses cannot be expunged due to their severity or other factors, but they can be sealed. Sealing a criminal record is similar to expunging it, except that sealed offenses are slightly more available to certain parties. While a background check conducted by private entities may not uncover sealed convictions, officials in the criminal justice system may still access them and hold them against you in the event you are placed under arrest.

The state of Illinois allows for a person to expunge or seal criminal offenses. However, state law does not permit certain crimes to be sealed or expunged. For example, offenses that would require you to register with the Sex Offender Registry, or acts involving reckless driving, or felony or Class A misdemeanor violations of the Humane Care for Animals Act are not eligible to be sealed.

There are also due dates that may require compliance before you can pursue the expungement or sealing of your criminal record. A professional criminal defense attorney may provide assistance with these and other questions you may have about cleaning up your past criminal history so that it does not hinder you in finding work or a place to live.