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Standardized forms library continues expansion with improved suite of expungement and sealing forms

9/27/2017

September 27, 2017

Since 2012, the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice has been promulgating plain language, standardized court forms for use by self-represented litigants. This process is time consuming and would not be possible without the long standing commitment of dozens of volunteers. We are deeply grateful for the dedication of our ATJ Commission Forms Committee and each of the 10 Forms Committee Substantive Subcommittees.

Even after form suites have been released for public use, the forms process never ends. All of our standardized forms must be modified when the law changes or when we receive thoughtful suggestions for improvement. As but one example of the iterative forms work, we want to highlight our work on adult expungement and sealing of criminal records. A new suite of combined forms were recently released for public use and are available here.

This new Request to Expunge & Impound and/or Seal Criminal Records has replaced our previous Request to Expunge & Impound Criminal Records and our Request to Seal Criminal Records forms suites. The newly available forms were changed in two significant ways: (1) combining the request for expungement and sealing into one suite of forms; and (2) reflecting the recent changes in the law—specifically expansions to the Criminal Record Identification Act, 20 ILCS 2630/5.2—that increase the number of offenses that may be sealed under Illinois law.

First, a petitioner may now ask the court for expungement and sealing on one petition for all eligible offenses. If a petitioner is seeking only expungement or sealing, they are instructed to fill out only the applicable portions of the petition.

Second, the forms can be used for more types of cases. As of August 24, 2017, and the signing of Public Act 100-0284, almost all felony convictions are now eligible for sealing. Prior to January 1, 2017, a person (based on their record) could only file for one form of relief or the other. One conviction meant no expungement, only sealing. When the law removed the conviction barrier to expungement, individuals can now file for both, negating the need for separate forms and making the process easier to fill out one set of forms for one petitioner.

The only felonies that are not eligible are:

  • Domestic Battery/Violation of Order of Protection;
  • Humane Care for Animals Offenses (Class A and above);
  • Driving Under the Influence and Reckless Driving (with the youthful offender exception); and
  • Sex Crimes under Article 11 (except prostitution and misdemeanor public indecency which are eligible).

This change in the law may result in an increase in the number of petitions, especially from litigants seeking sealing for previously ineligible offenses. As is true with anything related to our standardized forms process, we welcome your feedback and suggestions. Please feel free to contact us at forms@illinoiscourts.gov with any questions, concerns, or suggested changes to these forms.