A very common question we are asked is whether the discipline placed on a professional license can be expunged. “Expungement” of a disciplinary sanction by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (“IDFPR”), unlike the expungement of certain criminal convictions, is actually a fairly recent phenomenon and may be allowed in limited circumstances. Anyone whose license has been disciplined or is facing a discipline should be aware of the public nature of the disciplinary sanctions imposed by the IDFPR and whether the sanction can be removed from public view.
One of the many effects of having a professional license disciplined by the IDFPR is having the discipline made available to the public. This is done in two different ways. First, the IDFPR offers an on-line “License Lookup” service that allows the public to search a database of all licensed professionals in Illinois. For each professional, it lists basic information including the license number(s), the date of licensure, expiration date, etc. It also provides information regarding any public discipline that has been placed on the license and usually a very brief description of the basis for the discipline. This information can remain on the public lookup indefinitely. The second method used to inform the public of discipline is through the “IDFPR Consolidated Reports,” a monthly electronic publication on the IDFPR’s website that lists every licensed professional who has been publicly disciplined in that month. Organized by Divisions and Professions, the Report lists the name of every professional who was disciplined, their license number, the public discipline imposed and the basis for that discipline. This information can also remain within the Reports indefinitely.
That being said, there are several specific instances outlined by Illinois statute that allow for public discipline to be “classified as confidential,” or otherwise expunged. This process is neither automatic nor free, requiring the applicant to apply and be approved by the IDFPR before having their records expunged.
In order to be able to have disciplinary history expunged from one’s record, the discipline must stem from one of the following offenses:
- Failure to pay taxes;
- Failure to pay student loans;
- Failure to renew a license on time;
- Failure to obtain or renew a certificate of registration or ancillary license;
- Issues related to advertising;
- Discipline based on criminal charges or convictions that either:
- Did not arise from the licensed activity and was unrelated to the licensed activity; or
- Were dismissed or for which records have been sealed or expunged;
- Past probationary status of a license issued to new applicants on the sole or partial basis of prior convictions; or
- Any grounds for discipline removed from the licensing act.
If the discipline is based on one of the eight options listed in the statute, the licensee must then satisfy several other criteria in order to properly apply for expungement, including:
- A three-year waiting period either after the offense occurred or after restoration of the license, whichever is later;
- No further incidents of discipline under the licensing act since the disciplinary offense identified in the application;
- No pending investigations by the IDFPR against the licensee; and
- The license cannot currently be in disciplinary status.
If all conditions are met, then the licensee may move forward by filing an application with the IDFPR, along with a non-refundable fee of $175, which will then be considered by the Director of the Division of Professional Regulation.
If the application is approved, the records regarding the specific discipline will then be classified as confidential, not for public release, and considered expunged for reporting purposes. It is as if the discipline never occurred. However, even if the application proves successful, it is the licensee’s responsibility to contact any national reporting database regarding the expungement. The IDFPR is not required to report the removal of any disciplinary record to any database.
Nevertheless, even if the discipline is eligible to be expunged and the licensee has met all required conditions, there is no guarantee that the application for expungement will be approved. The decision to remove a public discipline is up to the discretion of the IDFPR.
If you are interested in pursuing an expungement of any disciplinary history with the IDFPR or have any questions regarding the process, please do not hesitate to contact us at Crick Walanka Law Group. We are here to assist all licensed professionals with any issues that may arise.