One of the most frequently misused terms in criminal law is conviction. All too often a person will talk about a case and say that if they’re found guilty they were convicted. But this is not entirely accurate.
Under Illinois law, when a person is found guilty the court enters a judgment against him. The judgment is similar to a judgment against someone who is in debt. The judgment can be enforced against a person.
But in a criminal case, the judgment allows the court only to impose a sentence.
For example, when the court enters a judgment against person, the court is sentencing a person. The court is authorized to impose a sentence of jail or a sentence of probation.
The term conviction, describes the type of sentence not a finding of guilt.
The term conviction is defined under Illinois statute 720 ILCS 5/2-5.
The statute reads as follows:
“Conviction” means a judgment of conviction or sentence entered upon a plea of guilty or upon a verdict or finding of guilty of an offense, rendered by a legally constituted jury or by a court of competent jurisdiction authorized to try the case without a jury.
As you can see a conviction is not a finding of guilt, but rather a sentence imposed by the court.
The consequence of a conviction is that the person is no longer eligible to have his record expunged. In fact even one conviction will disqualify all other offenses from expungement.
A conviction for a crime of violence such as assault or battery, cannot be sealed either.
This is why it is critical to fight every criminal charge to the fullest extent. The consequences of a conviction are severe.
A conviction is a permanent criminal record.