How to Expunge a Criminal Record in Illinois

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Petitioners must meet specific qualifying criteria to expunge their criminal record in Illinois. Those who had the cases dismissed or were found not guilty may request that the record be expunged. Individuals with certain misdemeanors on their record that have met various time requirements may also submit a petition. Certain additional cases may also apply, but the decision ultimately rests with the judge to decide each individual outcome. Individuals with felonies do not qualify to have their records expunged, unless they were issued a pardon or the conviction proves false after further review.

Determine if the person is eligible to petition for his criminal record to be expunged. Refer to the short list found in the description or the detailed list provided by the Illinois attorney general.

Download the "Petition to Expunge" and "Order to Expunge" forms from the Illinois Office of the Appellate Defender website.

Fill out the entire "Petition to Expunge" form, but only the first two pages of the "Order to Expunge" form.

Attach proof of a recent drug test (taken within the last 30 days), if the petition concerns a felony first offender drug or Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC) probation case. Remember, felonies may only be expunged if the case was dismissed or the person was declared not guilty.

Notarize the signature on the "Petition to Expunge" form.

Make one copy of the "Order to Expunge" form and six copies of the "Petition to Expunge" form.

Take the original forms to the county where the arrest was made and file them with the local circuit clerk. The clerk also needs the names and addresses of the following entities: the state’s attorney of the county the forms are filed in, the Illinois State Police, Bureau of Identification, 260 N. Chicago St., Joliet, IL 60431-1342, the arresting authority, and the chief legal officer of the branch of local government which made the arrest.

Keep two of the "Petition to Expunge" copies and the copy of the "Order to Expunge" form. The other four copies will be sent to the entities listed in the previous step.

Wait up to a maximum of 60 days to see if one of the previously mentioned entities files an objection to the petition.

Attend court if ordered to do so. Not all petitions will require a hearing for the judge to render a decision.

Pay any associated fees if the petition is granted. Some counties will require certain fees to be paid. These generally include mailing fees and/or certification fees. All counties require a fee to have the record officially expunged. Certain counties will request this fee be paid upon filing while others make the request after the petition is granted.


  • The exact process varies slightly from county to county. Contact the circuit clerk in the desired county before beginning the process.


  • Having a record sealed is not the same as having it expunged. Expungement is the physical destruction of a record and sealing simply hides the record. A sealed record may be unsealed by certain government agencies.



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Kenrick Callwood has been involved in Internet marketing since 2007 and his work has appeared in numerous online publications. His main areas of expertise are psychology, travel and Internet marketing. He holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from California Polytechnic University.

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