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posted on 4/25/16

In addition to its social stigma, a criminal conviction often makes it difficult or impossible to work in certain occupations or live in certain places. If rehabilitation really is a goal of the penal system, then some form of expungement must be available, at least in most cases.

There are informal expungement procedures in most jurisdictions, in the form of pretrial diversion programs and deferred adjudication probation. But, by and large, there programs either have strict requirements or, from a punishment standpoint, are extremely risky. Fortunately, Illinois has some of the more liberal expungement laws in the Union.

Rehabilitation Certificates

There are certainly some individuals who reoffend because they are unwilling to change their lifestyles, but there are many more who reoffend for other reasons that, in some cases, are beyond their control.

Persons with no more than two felony convictions, and an unlimited number of misdemeanors, are eligible for a:

  • Certificate of Good Conduct: This document makes future employers immune from both civil and criminal actions stemming from a person’s employment.
  • Certificate of Relief from Disability: The holders of this certificate can pursue employment in certain professions, like law and medicine, even with a criminal conviction.

The certificates are not available for some offenses, including any Class X felony, aggravated DUI, and any Sex Offender Registry offense.


The rules in this area are rather complicated. For an offense to be expunged without a waiting period, there must either be a finding of not guilty or a cause-based dismissal, such as SOL (Stricken with Leave) or FNPC (Finding of No Probable Cause).

Illinois allows expungement even if there is a conviction, in some cases. If the sentence was probation or second-chance probation, seventeen different offenses may qualify for expungement, including:

  • Domestic battery,
  • Criminal sexual assault of an adult,
  • Certain drug possession offenses, and
  • Retail theft.

In most cases, there is a five year waiting period before a petition can be filed. If that petition is granted, all the court and law enforcement records are physically destroyed or returned to the offender.


This procedure is basically limited expunction: the records remain, but only certain government agencies have access to them. For example, if your record was sealed and an employment questionnaire asks if you were ever convicted of a crime, you may truthfully answer “no.”

Essentially the same qualifications remain, but the waiting period is generally shorter and the list of eligible offenses is expanded to include prostitution, forgery, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, and a few others.

Partner with Attorneys Who are on Your Side

To possibly avoid some or all of the negative impacts of a criminal conviction, contact the experienced Schaumburg criminal defense lawyers at Glasgow & Olsson. We routinely handle cases throughout Chicagoland.