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Higbee & Associates, a national law firm

Illinois Certificate of Sealing FAQ Frequently Asked Questions

This page was designed to help our clients better understand our Illinois Certificate of Sealing service. You will find answers to the questions we are most frequently asked. If your question is related to eligibility requirements please take the free online eligibility test.

What is a Certificate of Sealing?

A Certificate of Sealing grants permission to the recipient to petition the court to seal their record if they aren't already eligible under the statute.

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What is Sealing?

When a record is sealed, the record becomes unavailable to the public and most government entities without a court order. However, persons involved in civil litigation (suing or being sued) may petition to unseal criminal records for the purpose of using them in the litigation. Furthermore, the Illinois Department of Corrections has access to all sealed records upon any new conviction.

For more information about Illinois Sealing, please see the Frequently Asked Questions for that service.

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What if I don't know exactly what is on my record?

We can help obtain the records and evaluate what you are eligible for under Illinois law to clear that record. The fee for this research would then apply to the cost of any record clearing service that you hire us to perform at the conclusion of the case research.

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Does my disposition of guilty or no contest matter?

No. Both please will result in a conviction.

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Can I seal the record if I was convicted?

Please take the eligibility test to determine which service(s) you are eligible for in Illinois. If you are not eligible for a Sealing, a Certificate of Sealing, or Expungement, you can apply to the Prisoner Review Board for permission to file for an expungement via the Executive Clemency and Pardon process. With this work around, any case can become eligible for some form of meaningful relief in Illinois.

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Can I clear my federal conviction?

We do not handle federal cases at this time. Please contact an attorney that handles federal cases.

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If I was convicted of a felony, can I have it reduced?

Unfortunately, the only time you can reduce your felony charge is before you plea or are convicted. Therefore, if you are already convicted of the crime, then you cannot reduce your felony to a misdemeanor.

However, you may be eligible to have your felony sealed or expunged if you have received executive clemency.

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What if I have multiple cases?

If you have multiple cases then you may not be eligible for a Certificate because it is only for those only convicted of one offense. Please take our eligibility test to determine your eligibility, or call our office.

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What if my case was held in multiple jurisdictions? For instance, the arrest was made in one jurisdiction, but the charges were filed in a different jurisdiction?

The application is filed with the Prisoner Review Board, not with the local courts. However, if you have multiple convictions in different jurisdictions, you may not be eligible. Please take our online eligibility test to determine your eligibility, or call our office.

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Can I apply for a Certificate of Sealing at the same time as a pardon?

No, you can only have one application pending with the Prisoner Review Board at a time. Because a Certificate is easier and faster to obtain, we always suggest that you first obtain a Certificate of Sealing. You can always apply for a pardon after obtaining the relief that a Certificate provides.

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What factors does the Illinois Prisoner Review Board consider?

The Board has discretion to consider all facets of your rehabilitation and the potential risk that you pose to society in determining whether or not to grant your Certificate.

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How long does the process take?

A typical Certificate of Sealing in Illinois takes approximately eight months but it can take more or less time depending on your case. Some factors that can affect the amount of time your case will take include: the facts of your case, whether the State objects, the age of the case, and how busy the Prisoner Review Board is at the time your petition is filed and thereafter.

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Do I have to do anything?

We handle the filing and representation for you but if we need you to assist with anything or supply any information then we will inform you. The Prisoner Review Board can ask for anything additional that they would like in order to consider your case, including drug tests.

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Can the process be done faster?

The Prisoner Review Board works on a first come, first serve basis. Therefore, the sooner you begin the application process the sooner the Board will make a decision on your case. There is no way to control when the Board considers your case, so you want to submit as soon as possible.

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Do I have to appear at the Prison Review Board?

Maybe. Once your application is submitted and reviewed, the Prisoner Review Board can either decide to grant or deny the Certificate of Sealing or request that the applicant attend a public hearing that will be held in either Springfield or Chicago, Illinois. If your application is selected for public hearing and you want a licensed attorney to attend with you, there is an additional hearing fee.

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What is the main reason that a request for Certificate of Sealing is denied?

The Prisoner Review Board is not required to provide a reason when they choose to deny an application for a Certificate of Sealing. If your application is denied, we will consider the reasons for which your application may have been denied and ways that you can strengthen your application in the future. You must wait four (4) full years from the date of denial before you can re-file the application unless given permission from the Chairman of the Board to re-file sooner.

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What happens after my Certificate of Sealing is granted?

After the Board grants your case, you will receive the Certificate of Sealing. This enables you to file to have your case sealed with the court. Once your case is sealed, criminal record agencies and databases will be notified that they must update their records to reflect that your conviction was sealed.

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Will a Certificate of Sealing relieve me of the requirement to register?

No. If you were convicted of a sex offense you are not eligible for a Certificate of Sealing.

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Will my case still show up on my background check?

Your case information will continue to appear until you receive an order from the court sealing your case. The Certificate of Sealing only gives you permission to receive a sealing from the court.

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Will this process clean up my DMV record?

Unfortunately, sealing and expungement does not affect DMV records.

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The first step towards a better life begins with finding out if you are eligible for Illinois Certificate of Sealing.

FREE Eligibility Test


Call us at Toll Free (877) 573-7273
Please take the free online eligibility test before calling.

Law Firm of Higbee & Associates
939 W. North Avenue, Suite 750
Chicago, Il. 60642
*By Appointment Only

5 I am overwhelmed with joy that I found this service, I thought that I was going to live with the albatross for the rest of my life. They made this process as easy as it possibly could be and for an incredibly affordable rate. I could not be happier.
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