While often used interchangeably, there are differences between the sealing and expungement of criminal records. Sealing criminal records means no one can view the files without a court order. Expungement completely erases criminal records, creating a “clean slate.” If you were convicted of a crime in Iowa or Illinois and desire a fresh start, learn more about record sealing and expungement before talking to your attorney.
Expungement & Sealing of Criminal Records in Illinois & Iowa: What Do I Need to Know?
Illinois law allows for criminal record sealing and expungement so long as the necessary processes are completed and the client is eligible. Many individuals work with attorneys to streamline the filing process. Certain criminal activities are excluded from record sealing and expungement, including battery or aggravated battery of an unborn child, domestic battery, DUIs, sex crimes, reckless and aggravated reckless driving, orders of protection violations, crimes against animals, and attempted crimes related to sex offender registration.
For record sealing, the person must wait at least three years from the date of the sentencing to file a petition with the Illinois court system. Earning a GED or related degree can expedite this waiting period. For record expungement, the individual can make the request immediately following a case dismissal or acquittal, or after completing court-ordered supervision — unless the order was for domestic battery, sex offenses, or driving with a suspended license. The individual must wait a minimum of five years to request expungement for these crimes.
In Iowa, it’s state policy to keep most criminal records accessible to the public. While most crimes cannot be removed from an Iowa resident’s record, as of January 2016, it’s possible for courts to order sealing or expungement on cases that were dismissed or where the defendant was acquitted. Records for such cases are not available to the public. However, they’re still accessible to law enforcement, prosecutors, and the court.
Other conditions also influence expungements of dismissals and acquittals in Iowa. The defendant cannot be found legally insane or otherwise incapable of standing trial, and all court costs and related fees must be paid. Additionally, at least 180 days must pass after the court date for the records to be expunged.
The other option for expungement under Iowa law concerns “deferred judgment.” This request can be made at the time of the conviction and puts the defendant on probation. As long as the defendant completes the probation period without incident, charges will be dropped. Deferment applies to misdemeanors, such as public drunkenness, as well as some felonies.
If you need assistance with sealing or expungement in Iowa or Illinois, contact the attorneys at Pepping, Balk, Kincaid, & Olson, Ltd. Located in Silvis, IL, the law firm serves over 2,000 clients per year and offers expertise in business law, real estate, bankruptcy, child custody, and misdemeanor crimes. Call (309) 755-5096 today to schedule a consultation or visit the attorneys online for more information about representation. Like the attorneys on Facebook for legal tips.