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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Record Numbers of Wrongfully Convicted Citizens Exonerated in 2014

Dozens of people were exonerated in 2014, including  many in Chicago--and that's great news. While it's always better to avoid wrongful convictions, the point is that "prosecutors are much more willing to see identifying errors as a positive part of their job," said Michigan law professor Samuel Gross. Read more...

Image courtesy of Reuters

 


Friday, January 16, 2015

Do You Qualify for Expungement in Illinois? Ask Yourself These 4 Questions.

Expungement in Illinois is a fairly complicated process, but before you can even petition the court to have your criminal record cleared, you need to see whether you qualify.

Do You Qualify for Expungement in Illinois?

Most people choose to talk to a Chicago expungement lawyer to determine whether they meet all the criteria for wiping the slate clean. However, you can take the first steps in determining your eligibility for expungement in Illinois by answering these four questions:

1. What is the current status of your involvement in the Illinois court system?

If you have any charges pending, or any cases open where a final disposition hasn’t been entered yet, you’ll have to wait until those are wrapped up before trying to have your record expunged.

2. Were you on “Second Chance” probation and have you successfully completed it?

If you were on Second Chance probation and you successfully completed it, then you don’t have a conviction for that offense. You might qualify for an expungement.

3. What are the dispositions on your record?

You might qualify for expungement if your criminal record includes only terms such as:

  • Acquittals (“not guilty” findings)
  • Dismissal
  • Finding of no probably cause
  • No charges filed
  • Stricken with leave
  • Supervision (as long as it was successfully completed and wasn’t for certain crimes outlined under Illinois law)

4. Are you a veteran of the U.S. armed forces who has been convicted of a nonviolent, nonsexual, non-gun-related Class 3 or Class 4 felony? (If yes, did you receive an honorable discharge?)

As an honorably discharged veteran, you might be able to have some convictions expunged from your criminal record. It’s best to talk to a Chicago expungement lawyer to find out for sure.

If you’ve ever been arrested, you do have a criminal record. That’s why it’s so important to find out whether you can erase some or all of it under Illinois laws; a criminal record can stop you from getting employment, finding a place to live, or even becoming licensed in your chosen field.

 

, serving Chicago, Rolling Meadows, Skokie and Schaumburg

 


Friday, January 02, 2015

Why Can't Drinking and Driving be Expunged in Illinois?

In the state of Illinois, you can have some criminal records completely erased. Unfortunately, a drunk driving conviction isn’t one of them.

Under Illinois law, you can’t expunge your criminal record if you were sentenced to supervision for:

  • Drunk driving
  • A sexual offense committed by a minor (under the age of 18
  • Reckless driving

Note that being sentenced to supervision, which keeps the case open without a judgment of guilt, is the decisive factor. When the supervision period has ended, the case is dismissed – but you cannot have that record expunged under the law.

The Only Way to Expunge a DUI in Illinois

Because the state of Illinois is so serious about DUI, the only way to have that type of record expunged from your record is to seek a pardon from the governor that includes expungement.

What Can You Do with a DUI Conviction?

While it is very likely that your DUI conviction will stay on your criminal record – barring a pardon from the governor, of course – there are two ways that you might be able to rebound and help yourself when it comes to finding employment if you were convicted of aggravated DUI. They’re called Certificates of Rehabilitation.

  • Certificate of Good Conduct. The Certificate of Good Conduct makes you more hirable because it relieves potential employers from civil and criminal liability for hiring you. (For example, some employers won’t hire people with DUI convictions because they “should know” that a prior DUI conviction makes the person a driving risk; this certificate relieves them of liability.)
  • Certificate of Relief from Disability. The Certificate of Relief from Disability will allow you to get a professional license despite your past DUI conviction. This is exceptionally helpful if you have lost your occupational license or you’re barred from getting one because of the conviction.

Neither of these certificates will remove the conviction from your record, but they can certainly make it easier for employers to hire you if you’re encountering resistance because of the DUI conviction.

Talk to your Cook County expungement lawyer to find out whether you qualify to apply for either (or both) of these certificates – it might be one of the best decisions you could make.

 

, Cook County expungement lawyer

 


Friday, December 19, 2014

Supervision, Dispositions and Partial Sealing: What You Need to Know

There are many myths surrounding criminal record expungement in Chicago, and one of the main reasons is that there are so many definitions and conditions when it comes to getting your record erased.

Remember, if you’re ever confused about something, ask your Cook County expungement lawyer. He’ll be able to clear everything up and ensure that you understand what’s happening.

That said, there are things you should know about the conditions on supervision, dispositions and sealing before you even try to have your criminal record expunged.

Conditions Regarding Supervision in Expungement Cases

You’ve probably heard that you may have to wait two or five years to petition the court to have your records expunged, but when does that waiting period begin?

The waiting period for having any record expunged is based on the completion of supervision for the last offense. That means if you had an offense in 1995, one in 2000 and one in 2013, you must wait the appropriate amount of time after completing supervision for the last offense—in this case, the record that was created in 2013—even if you are trying to have the record from 1995 expunged.

Dispositions and Eligibility for Sealing

There isn’t a way to seal part of a case. If your case only partially qualifies, you can’t have any of the record sealed. For example, if you are charged with a felony and a misdemeanor in the same case, you cannot have the misdemeanor portion sealed. You’ll need to talk to your attorney for case-specific advice; generally, though, unless these charges are brought up in separate cases, neither will be able to be sealed.

How to Get Rid of Non-Qualifying Convictions

If your convictions qualify for neither expungement nor sealing, you have one final option: a pardon from the governor. A pardon can get the conviction completely removed from your criminal record, and if you think you have a case for a pardon—even if you have already served a sentence—it can’t hurt to talk to a Chicago attorney who may be able to help.

 


Friday, December 05, 2014

Can You Expunge Violent Misdemeanors in Illinois?

Beginning Januray 1, 2015, people convicted of violent misdemeanors, such as assault, battery and others, will be eligible for expungement.

This is huge news.

Before this amendment, the only way people convicted of assault, battery and other misdemeanor “crimes of violence” could get a fresh start was to apply for executive clemency in the State of Illinois.   

Expunging Violent Misdemeanors in Illinois

An amendment to the Criminal Identification Act removed the text that made it unlawful for judges to expunge violent misdemeanors – specifically, “offenses defined as ‘crimes of violence’” – making people with those convictions eligible to submit a petition.

How to Expunge Violent Misdemeanors

Many people feel more comfortable working with an attorney to have their criminal records expunged. This is usually because the paperwork can be confusing, and it’s a very time-consuming process. Additionally, the state’s attorney might object to your petition for expungement – and that means you’ll have a hearing in front of the judge assigned to your case where you’ll have the chance to defend yourself. Working with a lawyer can help alleviate some of the pressure associated with speaking in front of the judge, and your lawyer can represent you and ensure that the judge hears the whole truth of your story.

Should You Try to Have Your Violent Misdemeanors Expunged?

As a Cook County and DuPage County expungement lawyer, I’m always going to recommend that you try. There’s no reason that your past should hang over your head forever – and if that’s just not who you are anymore, you deserve to put the past where it belongs: in the past.

If you need help, let me know. I’ll do everything I can to help you clear your record and move on with your life.

 

Attorney , Illinois expungement lawyer

Friday, December 05, 2014

Do I Have to Tell Employers about Expunged or Sealed Records?

Once your record is expunged, it’s done… right?

Many people aren’t sure whether they have to tell potential employers about expunged records. Job applications often ask if you’ve ever been arrested or convicted, so what are you supposed to say?

Do I Have to Tell Employers about Expunged Records?

Once your record has been expunged, you do not have to tell anyone that you were ever arrested or that you had a criminal record. In fact, the state of Illinois has made it illegal for most employers and potential employers to ask you whether you have had records expunged or sealed.

There are some exceptions to the rule, though. If you are being employed by a hospital or care facility, a school or a government agency, you will still have to answer the question truthfully. The military may also need to know if you have ever had a record expunged or sealed. There may be other exceptions, as well, so it’s best to ask your Chicago expungement lawyer to give you a quick run-down if you’re going to apply for a new job.

There’s one more thing: if you’ve petitioned the court to have your record expunged, but the court hasn’t ruled on it yet, you’ll still have to tell potential employers (or answer the question on a job application) about your criminal history.

Unless the law specifically requires you to disclose expunged or sealed records when you are applying for an occupational license or certificate, you don’t have to. Again, your attorney can help you if you’re not sure whether you’re required to disclose your expunged or sealed records; every license and certificate has different requirements.

Need Help?

If you might qualify for expungement in Chicago or the surrounding suburbs, call Attorney Matt Fakhoury at 847-920-4540 today. He may be able to help you wipe the slate clean so you can get a fresh start on life.

 


Friday, November 21, 2014

The Expungement Glossary: Terms You Need to Know

It’s not just you – expungement and the terms people use when referring to it can be extremely confusing. If your Chicago expungement lawyer says something you don’t understand, ask – otherwise, check out this quick-reference guide to expungement terms.

The Expungement Glossary

Adjudication: A formal court judgment

Conviction: A final judgment of guilt by the court

Criminal Identification Act: The law that allows records to be sealed and expunged in the state of Illinois

Disposition: The court’s final order on your criminal case

Expunge: To physically destroy records or return them to the petitioner (you), as well as to remove the petitioner’s (your) name from official or public records

Municipal ordinance: A law or regulation of the city or local government

Objection: The state’s protest against your petition for expungement

Petition: Your written request to the court

Petitioner: You

Sealing: To keep official records but make them unavailable to the general public without a court order, as well as to remove your name from official and public records (law enforcement and the courts can still access the records, as well as select employers and other entities)

Supervision: A court order that holds your case open for a set period of time, during which no judgment of guilt is entered

Your Lawyer is on Your Team

It’s okay if you don’t understand all of the legal jargon associated with your expungement case. Most people don’t, so you’re definitely not alone. It’s always a good idea to ask your Chicago expungement lawyer for clarification – after all, that’s what he’s there for.

If the state objects to your expungement petition, your lawyer is going to be there to help clear things up and ensure that the court gets to hear your side of the story. You might hear other unfamiliar terms in court, but again, just ask your lawyer to explain so you can make the best decisions and stay informed on what’s happening.

 


Friday, November 07, 2014

The 5-Year Waiting Period for Illinois Expungement

When you want to have your criminal record expunged in Illinois, you have to meet certain criteria – and in many cases, that includes a 5-year waiting period between the time you completed your supervision and today.

What Does Supervision Mean During the Expungement Waiting Period?

When the law says your supervision must have been terminated five years before you apply for expungement, it means that you must successfully complete it. That also means no run-ins with the law or anything of that nature.

Which Offenses Require a 5-Year Waiting Period for Expungement?

If you meet the other requirements for expungement, your Chicago expungement lawyer might be able to help you get these items removed from your records:

  • Operating an uninsured motor vehicle
  • Suspended registration for non-insurance
  • Displaying false insurance
  • Failure of a scrap dealer to keep records
  • Domestic battery
  • Criminal sexual abuse
  • Retail theft
  • Some first-offender drug offenses, including some cannabis and controlled substance offenses

Some offenses don’t require a waiting period at all, including:

What if You Don’t Qualify for Expungement?

Expungement is a very limited procedure that doesn’t apply to everyone. However, you could still qualify for the conditions required to seal your criminal records. Once records are sealed, nobody is allowed access to them without a court order. In some cases, a sealing can be just as effective as an expungement.

Don’t just assume that you won’t qualify for expungement or sealing, though. Make sure you talk to your Chicago expungement lawyer to find out; he’ll be able to evaluate your criminal records and let you know. (You can get your criminal background report, or “rap sheet,” from the agency that arrested you. You’ll need information from every case, because every case matters when you are trying to have one expunged.)

 


Friday, October 24, 2014

The Criminal Identification Act in Illinois: Everything You Need to Know

Illinois’ Criminal Identification Act makes it possible to expunge or seal your criminal record in the state of Illinois, but it’s not a free-for-all. In fact, in order to have your records expunged or sealed under the Criminal Identification Act, you have to meet certain criteria. Do you qualify?

About the Illinois Criminal Identification Act

The Illinois Criminal Identification Act limits expungement and sealing based on qualifying factors, including:

  • Whether you have ever been convicted of another crime. If you have, you may be eligible for sealing, but not expungement. (Talk to your lawyer to be sure; he’ll be able to tell you how the rules of expungement and sealing apply to your case.)
  • What type of crime you have been convicted of committing. Most felonies cannot be expunged; there are very rare exceptions, which your lawyer can point out if you’re not sure.
  • How much time has passed since the conviction. In many cases, you must meet a certain period with a clean criminal record before applying for expungement. Cases that were dismissed, or in which you were acquitted, or the decision was reversed or vacated, don’t require a waiting period.

The Illinois Criminal Identification Act and You

Your attorney will need to ask you questions and see any case-related paperwork that you have. You’ll definitely need to bring your lawyer a copy of your record, which you may be able to get from the records department of the police precinct in which you were arrested.

Your lawyer will be able to go to bat for you if the state’s attorney objects to your expungement, but only if he has all of the details you can provide – so make sure you answer his questions honestly and candidly so he can help you get the best possible outcome.

Remember, only your attorney can give you case-specific legal advice. While friends and family can be good resources, it’s a good idea to listen to your lawyer when he tells you how to get your criminal record expunged under the Illinois Criminal Identification Act.

 


Friday, October 10, 2014

Job Applicants with Criminal Records: Know Your Rights

If you have a criminal record, no matter how long ago the incident occurred or how minor it was, you're probably already familiar with the effect it has on your ability to get a job. It's not fair that employers can, and often do, use your criminal history against you, so if you are eligible for an expungement or sealing of your criminal records, it's a good idea to call a Chicago expungement lawyer who can help.

However, not everyone is eligible for expungement in Illinois.

If you're one of the unfortunate people who's stuck with a criminal record that follows you everywhere you go, you still have rights--particularly when you're applying for jobs--and it's important that you know what they are.

Job Applicants with Criminal Records: Know Your Rights

While criminal charges are generally private information, convictions are public. Your arrest record may also appear in the cursory background check that many employers do before hiring, so you're up against a few roadblocks when you submit a job application -- even if you never disclose your history to the employer.

Fortunately, the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (enforced by the Federal Trade Commission) prevents outside investigators from reporting on arrests and expunged convictions. However, potential employers can conduct the investigations themselves; they can also directly ask you about anything they find in your past.

Different employers conduct different types of background checks. Workplaces that would require you to care for children, the elderly or the disabled are most likely going to conduct a thorough background check looking for drug convictions, abuse convictions and other convictions that would make them consider you a hazard; on the other hand, a restaurant where you'll be managing large amounts of money may care less about a small drug possession conviction than they do about a theft or embezzlement conviction.

How to Face Down Past Convictions

If you can't get your records sealed or expunged, it may be best to wait until your potential employer brings it up. (Think of it this way: when your parents asked you a question as a kid, they already knew the answer. Potential employers are the same way.)

When your potential employer asks, be straightforward. Explain the situation in as few words as possible, letting them know that you're not the same person as you were when you were convicted of the crime. Many employers will value your honesty and appreciate that you didn't try to "pull one over" on them, and you might be surprised that they'll see past your record and look at who you are today.


Friday, September 26, 2014

What You Need to Know About Juvenile Expungements in Chicago

It's become easier to get juvenile expungements, but that doesn't mean that any juvenile case can be erased from your record. However, if you were under the age of 18 when you were arrested, accused or convicted of certain crimes, you may be eligible for expungement. It's always best to talk to a Cook County expungement lawyer who can evaluate your case and help you determine whether you may qualify.

Juvenile Cases that May Qualify for Expungement

Like with cases that are opened for adults, only some juvenile cases can be expunged. Generally, your case may qualify for expungement if:

  • You were arrested before the age of 18 but you were found "not delinquent" or no petition for delinquency was filed at all.
  • You were sentenced to supervision and you successfully completed your term of supervision.
  • You were convicted of crimes that would be considered Class B or Class C misdemeanors if you were an adult.

Juvenile Cases that Do Not Qualify for Expungement

Cases that will not be considered for expungement include:

  • DUI, even if you were a minor when you were convicted.
  • First-degree murder.
  • Sex offenses that are felonies for adults.

Additionally, if your case started in juvenile court but moved to adult court, you're not automatically eligible for an expungement. However, you can talk to an attorney about having your record expunged or sealed according to the same laws that give adults that opportunity.

Cook County Expungement Laws

The laws in Cook County are the same as those throughout the rest of Illinois. If your case took place in Cook County, you'll need to go through the appropriate courts; your lawyer will help determine which court will preside over your petition.

What Your Lawyer Needs from You

Your attorney will need to see your entire criminal record. In many cases, you can get your juvenile arrest record from the police department where you were processed. If you have had arrests or convictions as an adult, your lawyer will need to know about them -- they may affect the outcome of your case, and he needs to know so that he can help protect your rights and ensure that your judge hears your side of the story.


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