Unfortunately, many people in their lifetime get charged with a criminal offense. Fortunately, many of these people are charged with minor criminal offenses, or even municipal ordinance violations, and have never committed a crime before and never will again. Fortunately, most prosecutors, assistant state’s attorneys, and most judges are sympathetic to these defendants and agree to have the matter disposed of in a way that would not become a permanent mark on their record.
First time drug offenders are often offered “drug school” and first time shoplifters are often offered a theft deterrent school. Once the defendant successfully graduates the case is dismissed and the defendant can have the arrest and case expunged. Expunged means that the records are physically destroyed.
People charged with shoplifting, battery, and assault are often, if found guilty, sentenced to court supervision. Court supervision is when the defendant pleads guilty but the judge does not enter judgment on the finding of guilt. Therefore, there is no conviction. After the period of court supervision has expired, the case is dismissed and the defendant may file a petition to have the case and arrest sealed after a set waiting period, which depends on the type of charge. The waiting period is either two or five years.