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Circuit Clerk announces significant reduction in fees for expungement petitions

From the press release: 

Urbana, IL.  January 20, 2015 – Starting Tuesday, January 20 any individual who files a Petition to Expunge will be paying nearly $100 less due to automated changes and inter-agency cooperation. For several months the Champaign County Circuit Clerk’s office has been working with local law enforcement agencies and municipal legal departments as well as the Champaign County Sheriff, State’s Attorney and the Illinois State Police to automate the expungement petition process.

When an individual files a petition to expunge a criminal record (qualifying arrests or convictions), copies of the petition must be sent to the arresting agency, municipal legal department, the Sheriff and State’s Attorney in the applicable county, and the Illinois State Police Bureau of Identification. Once the petition is received, the agencies have a specified amount of time in which to file an objection, typically 60 days.

Sixth Judicial Circuit Administrative Order 94-5 stipulated that expungement petitions had to be sent via certified mail to these agencies and departments. This added tremendous costs to the petitioner and often the county. “At least a third of the Expungement Petitions that we receive in my office are accompanied by a Petition to Waive Court Fees. When these are granted the county is forced to cover the costs of mailing these petitions by certified mail” Blakeman stated. “With the transition to electronic delivery, we estimate the annual cost savings to the County to be $4,000 to $5,000.”

In March of 2013, Chief Judge Dan Flannel of the Sixth Judicial District vacated Administrative Order 94-5, allowing Circuit Clerk offices to begin sending petitions by other means. However, the judiciary relies on the return receipt to determine the timeframe within which an agency has to file an objection. With a recent change in Illinois Supreme Court Rule 11, which allows for the service of documents via electronic delivery, the Champaign County Circuit Clerk’s office was able to seek out a secure electronic means of delivery, which still provides a return receipt that could be placed in the court file.  Once a method was established, testing began with the Champaign County State’s Attorney and Sheriff’s office, and soon expanded to outside agencies.  As of January 20, 2015, all law enforcement agencies in Champaign County, including the Illinois State Police, are participating in the program. This allows the Circuit Clerk to eliminate the fee for certified mailing entirely, saving the petitioner nearly $100 per filing.

The new cost for filing an Expungement Petition is $136. This consists of the $60 Circuit Clerk fee, $60 Illinois State Police fee, $6 for mailing of the orders and $10 for certifying the orders. Prior to this change, an Expungement Petition would cost between $214 and $236, depending on the arresting agency.

“The savings that will be seen by the petitioners and the county is extremely gratifying. This is a prime example of how technology can produce significant savings to the court system, and to taxpayers. I am especially pleased to be able to pass those savings on to the petitioner, particularly in the case of expungements, which may make the process of clearing a criminal record more attainable for those who most need it. I am also grateful for the cooperation of local and state agencies throughout this process. As we continue to work toward automation of new and existing processes in the court system, I can only begin to express my excitement to continue to work with these agencies,” said Blakeman.

For information regarding whether records are eligible for expungement or sealing, and for excellent instructional packets, including forms, please visit Illinois Office of the State Appellate Defender website here:

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