If you have a record of arrest, even if you have never been convicted of a traffic or criminal offense, you should seek to expunge or seal your record as soon as possible.

Clients frequently say that their old cases have been dismissed and taken off their record. However, the clerks’ offices throughout Illinois do not automatically remove cases from the docket.

There is good news! If you file a petition to expunge or seal, many cases can be removed entirely or sealed from the public domain. An expungement clears a criminal record from the public domain entirely as if it were never there. Public domain means that your record is viewable to the public. For example, an employer who does a background check would be able to view your criminal record, but not be able to see anything on your record if you had it expunged or sealed.

However, if your record is sealed, any state or government agencies, prosecutors, and police departments will still be aware of your criminal record. Even so, it should not stop you from getting a non-state or non-government job because many employers cannot see it.

The rules for expunging and sealing records can be complicated. Not all cases qualify for expungement. Some types of crimes are not expugnable or sealable. You should strongly consider retaining an attorney to help you through this process and help you determine whether you qualify for these types of relief. The expungement or sealing process can take months before you see any results.

Even if you do not qualify for expungement or seal, you may be able to seek a pardon from the governor. A petition for a pardon from the governor can be a difficult and time-consuming process. Depending on your offense, you may have to wait 2-5 years from completion of your sentence before you are eligible for a petition to pardon.

A qualified attorney can help you in determining whether your case or record is subject to this type of relief. It is important to hire an attorney who will work hard and is persistent in fighting for your defense. This type of attorney can offer you the personal attention you need and help you obtain the best possible outcome.

Ryan M. Schur is a licensed attorney in the state of Illinois with an office in Schaumburg, Illinois, near the Rolling Meadows Courthouse. Attorney Schur has experience working in the area courts of Cook County. If you have any questions regarding criminal or traffic matters, please call Ryan M. Schur at 847-609-2201 or email