Written by attorney Bruce E. Burdick

How Do Clear My Illinois Criminal Record of a Felony Conviction?

Bravo for you. If you have turned your life around and been clean for long enough to ask this question, I tell you that was a hard and noble thing to have done with your life after such a terrible start. I am honored to give you guidance after you have done that for yourself and those around you. I hope you have inspired others. What you want is an expungement with pardon. That would give you a clean record. If you cannot get that, and it will not surprise you that convicted 1st degree murders have the most difficult time getting a pardon, and progressively lower felonies are progressively easier to get pardoned. If not a full expungement, perhaps you can get a pardon and the record sealed. Since you have a felony conviction you have to get a pardon before your criminal record can be either expunged or sealed. Here is what to do: 1. Go to the following site of the Office of the State Appellate Defender, and read their new guide which just came out in January 2012 entitled "How to Clear Your Illinois Criminal Record" and see page 11. You will see it says before you can get your record expunged, you have to get a pardon and to do that you have to go to the Prisoner Review Board ("PRB"). That is, you need the PRB to recommend you for pardon. 2. Now, with that knowledge go to the Prison Parol Board website to see how that is done and specifically to the following page which has links to the guidelines and a schedule of hearing dates for 2012, The specific guidelines are available online at A sample "Petition for Executive Clemency" (request for pardon) is online at 3. Fill out the Petition for Executive Clemency, reread the guidelines carefully, assemble and attach the required evidence, and deliver it to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, 319 East Madison, Suite A, Springfield, IL 62701 (Take several copies and get them to file stamp them "Received" so you have a dated receipt.) Alternatively, you might mail it by Certified Mail With Return Receipt so you can prove they got it. (Include a postage prepaid return envelope and extra copies and ask them to be file stamped and returned.) You also have to deliver copies to the Court that sentenced you and the State Attorney office that prosecuted you so they can either support your request, oppose your request or say nothing. So, knowing that, you will surely want to call the State's Attorney and Court and give them a heads up that you will be filing a request for pardon and want to request their support. Hopefully that will at least get them not to oppose. 4. The PRB will set a hearing date and you will be allowed to appear with up to 4 witnesses who will, along with you, testify informally. Now, I have to tell you that, even if you are right there in Springfield where the PRB is, you should hire a lawyer who has done one of these before successfully to assist you in this. It will greatly improve your chances. Another thing that will improve your chances is if you are a supporter politically of the Governor, even better is if you are active in supporting him in his campaign. No matter where you live you can do that and it may make all the difference. So, that is how it is done. Read the materials I have referenced carefully, do as I have suggested and as the guidelines referenced prescribe (do it precisely as they ask or they will reject you and force you to wait a year), and you can, if you are indeed clean for many years, reasonably expect to succeed. Congratulations again on turning your life around, and I hope this guidance helps you earn the pardon that will make the rest of your life reward you for your hard work for many years to stay clean and beat the odds.

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