Whether someone must disclose their criminal background if sealed depends on the license. If one is applying for a license with the Illinois Department of Financial or Professional Regulation, the answer generally is no. If, however, one is applying for a teaching certificate or a law license, the answer is yes.
If you are uncertain about your chances of obtaining a license because of your criminal background, please schedule a free consultation for further guidance.
There are no secrets when it comes to your criminal history if you’re applying for:
- a teacher’s certification from the Illinois State Board of Education
- permission to sit for the Illinois state bar exam to secure a law license
Beginning January 1, 2018, if you've sealed your criminal history you are no longer required to disclose the information when applying for a license from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), the largest licensing agency in Illinois, or the Department of Insurance. There is an exception with respect to health care licensing, which is discussed below.
A sampling of criminal-history questions
Every applicant for a license from the IDFPR is asked two questions: 1) Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offense? and 2) Have you ever been convicted of a felony? Additionally, some applicants are subject to a mandatory criminal background check that is processed through the Illinois State Police (ISP) and the FBI. IDFPR application now include language instructing applicants that they no longer have to disclose sealed criminal convictions.
The Illinois State Board of Education asks applicants to disclose whether they have ever been convicted of a felony, sex crime or crime involving drugs (certain controlled substances).
The Illinois Board of Admissions (which administers the bar exam for lawyers) asks applicants to disclose whether they have been convicted of a felony, a minor or serious traffic offense, or were ever arrested or found delinquent as a juvenile. Applicant responses are verified through the ISP.
Health Care licensing exception to new sealing protections
In 2011, the Illinois legislature amended the health care licensing eligibility guidelines in order to bar anyone for life from obtaining certain health care worker licenses if convicted of the following offenses: 1) crimes requiring registration as a Sex Offender; 2) a battery against a patient committed "in the course of patient care or treatment," or 3) a forcible felony. What crimes meet the definition of a forcible felony for health care licensing purposes differs from its definition under the Illinois Criminal Code. The regulations, found at 68 Ill. Admin. Code Section 1130.120, list the crimes that apply. The health care worker licenses covered by this provision can be found at 68 Ill. Admin. Code Section 1130.110.
In 2016, the Illinois Legislature amended the law again to give individuals who had been convicted of a forcible felony an opportunity to present evidence of their rehabilitation in order to contest the IDFPR's intent to deny the license application. The IDFPR requires that you satisfy the following waiting periods before applying for a health care worker license:
- More than 5 years since date of forcible felony conviction; or
- More than 3 years since completion of sentence (whichever is later)
For anyone seeking a health care worker license who has sealed a forcible felony conviction, you are still required to disclose the information when you apply for a license - which was how it used to be prior to the 2017 legislation enacted in 2018.