If your record does not qualify for expungement or sealing, you may be able to seek a pardon from the governor. Even if your record can be sealed, a pardon followed by expungement can enable you to visit certain foreign countries, such as Canada. Generally, it is best if some time has elapsed between your criminal offense and your pardon petition and if you can demonstrate that you really have turned your life around for the better.
The pardon petition is a much more involved process than expungement or sealing. An attorney can be essential in presenting your case in its best possible light. An attorney can help you tell your story and guide you in collecting the evidence you need to present an effective case for clemency. Once the pardon is filed, the Illinois Prisoner Review Board will assign a hearing date and time. An attorney can help present your testimony and that of any witnesses.
The pardon process is not a quick fix. It can take years to get an answer to your petition. Nevertheless, Governor Pritzker has been relatively quick about responding, and his decisions have been very fair. If you are rejected, you may try again after a one-year waiting period.