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Chicago Criminal Expungements Blog

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.


Friday, September 12, 2014

How to Help a Loved One Get a Criminal Record Expunged in Cook County

If someone you love has a criminal record, it can be tough to see them being denied employment or tenancy. It’s hard to watch your loved one suffer under the weight of an old criminal record – but there’s good news. You may be able to help your spouse, significant other or other loved one have his or her criminal record expunged in Cook County.

How to Help a Loved One Get a Criminal Record Expunged in Cook County

First, know that you’re not alone. There are hundreds of thousands of people with criminal records in Cook County, so that means there are people like you—people who care—all over Chicago and the surrounding areas.

Your loved one will need to get his or her criminal record first. From there, the two of you can connect with a Chicago expungement attorney. Your lawyer can help you determine whether your loved one is eligible for expungement or sealing (many misdemeanors and even a handful of felonies are eligible for some type of criminal record removal).

Providing Support for Your Loved One

During expungement or sealing proceedings, the State’s Attorney has the option of objecting to the petition. This can happen if he or she feels that your loved one doesn’t deserve the fresh start that expungement or sealing can provide. In the event of an objection, the attorney that you’ve hired will be able to go to bat for your loved one, explaining the circumstances and making it clear why a fresh start is necessary.

If the judge ultimately decides in your loved one’s favor, an order will be sent to the appropriate offices (those that have the criminal record on file) to properly dispose of the record.

How Long Does Expungement or Sealing Take in Cook County?

Expungement and sealing criminal records in Cook County isn’t an overnight process. In fact, it can take quite some time. It’s important that you support your loved one and make sure that he or she stays positive. A good attitude can make a huge difference in your everyday life; besides, with a talented attorney on your team, your loved one has a fighting chance at starting over with a clean slate.


Friday, September 05, 2014

Sealing Violent Misdemeanors: Gov. Pat Quinn's New Law

Starting January 1, 2015, people with certain violent misdemeanor convictions can petition the court to have their criminal records sealed, thanks to a new law signed into effect last week by Governor Pat Quinn. 

This law, which actually amends the Criminal Identification Act, still prevents sex crime-related misdemeanors from being sealed, as well as misdemeanors involving animal cruelty. In many other cases, though, there's a genuine chance of starting fresh. You can learn more about the amendment to the Criminal Identification Act here.

 


Friday, August 29, 2014

How to Get a Pardon in Illinois

The only way to get rid of a criminal record that can’t be expunged or sealed in Illinois is to get the governor to pardon you. While it’s not always easy – Governor Pat Quinn has pardoned about 37 percent of the people whose cases he’s evaluated since taking office – it can be done.

But how?

How to Get a Pardon in Illinois

A pardon could give you a new lease on life. You wouldn’t have to worry about employers, landlords or even law enforcement using your past against you.

In order to get a pardon in Illinois, you have to petition the governor’s office. It’s called executive clemency, and the governor has the authority to approve or deny your petition.

The Requirements for Executive Clemency

Anyone can petition the governor for a pardon. Most people choose to work with a Chicago pardon lawyer because the process can be confusing, and it requires you to compile a lot of information. In addition to your personal information, you’ll have to provide information on the criminal record you want pardoned. You’ll also need to create a personal history and explain why you want a pardon.

Your lawyer can help you compile all of that information, and he can help you submit supporting documents or evidence. Your Chicago pardon lawyer might also suggest that you obtain supporting statements from other people.

Getting a Pardon in Illinois

Once your petition is filed, you’ll be able to speak at a hearing. You can also bring in other people to speak on your behalf. Your lawyer can help you prepare and walk you through what will happen at your hearing.

Approval or Denial of Executive Clemency

If your petition for a pardon is approved, potential landlords, employers and law enforcement officers will not be able to see it; there will be nothing left for them to see. Your criminal record will be destroyed.

If your petition for a pardon is denied, you must wait a year before you can file another. There is no limit to the number of times you can file, but you have to wait a year unless you have significant new evidence to support your petition.

 


Friday, August 15, 2014

Sealing Theft, Forgery and Other Class 4 Felonies in Chicago

There are a lot of common myths about criminal record sealing floating around, and one of them is that you can’t get a felony conviction sealed. In Chicago, Skokie, Schaumberg, Rolling Meadows and the rest of Illinois, you can get some felonies sealed. While sealing is different from expungement, it can still be a huge benefit to you.

Sealing Class 4 Felonies in Chicago and its Suburbs

Illinois law says that you can get certain Class 4 felony convictions sealed. You’ll have to go through a somewhat lengthy process, just like every other process having to do with criminal records.

The convictions that might qualify to be sealed are:

  • Theft
  • Retail theft
  • Deceptive practice
  • Forgery
  • Possession of burglary tools

Not all felony charges that fall under these categories are eligible for sealing. You’ll have to check with your Chicago expungement lawyer to find out whether yours does; the laws are very specific.

Give your attorney your arrest record and any court files you’re able to get that pertain to your case. He will be able to evaluate your case and compare it to the laws to figure out whether you qualify.

If your case does qualify for sealing, you still have to meet certain criteria: you must wait four years after the termination of your most recent sentence, and you must not have had any contact with the criminal justice system during that time. That means that four years after you’ve completed your last sentence, you haven’t had any brushes with the law.

Violent, sex-related and gun-related offenses cannot be sealed.

Why Sealing is Important

If you’re eligible to have your record sealed, you should take advantage of the opportunity. When your criminal record is public, it can be seen by potential employers, landlords and others who may use it to judge you without giving you a fair shake.


Friday, August 01, 2014

How to Have Your Chicago Arrest Record Destroyed

When you get arrested, you’re taken to the police station, photographed and fingerprinted. It’s a lot like what we see on reality TV – but what they don’t show you is what happens to the data that police collect upon your arrest.

The truth is, when they collect that data, they put it all together into a permanent record that sits in a database or a filing cabinet (or both) until someone wants to see it.

Even if the charges are dropped or if you’re acquitted and found “not guilty” of any crimes, that arrest record is still in the database.

Who Can See Chicago Arrest Records?

Potential employers, landlords and several other people may have access to your arrest record. Law enforcement officials will see it when you’re pulled over for speeding or arrested under suspicion of another crime, and the military can see it if you try to enlist, too.

It goes without saying that it’s nobody’s business that you were arrested, especially if the charges were dropped or you were found innocent of wrongdoing… but in order to have your Chicago arrest records destroyed, you’ll have to ask the court to force the issue.

How to Have Your Chicago Arrest Record Destroyed

Most people choose to work with a Chicago expungement lawyer who knows the ins and outs of the Illinois justice system. Not everyone is eligible to have their Chicago arrest records destroyed, so your attorney will look at your records and help determine whether you qualify.

Your lawyer will ask a judge to order all involved agencies to destroy your arrest records. If everything goes well, the judge will issue the order and you’ll be home-free. Sometimes the state’s attorney objects to an expungement, but if that happens, your attorney will be there to speak on your behalf.

Why Destroy Your Chicago Arrest Record?

While it’s not fair, many employers, landlords and other people might see your arrest record and hold it against you without even knowing the story behind it. You don’t need that kind of cloud hanging over your head when you’re applying for jobs or trying to find a new place to live (or doing anything else, for that matter).

If you want to see if you’re eligible to have your Chicago arrest record destroyed, call me at (847)920-4540 or contact me online. I’ll be glad to help.

 


Monday, July 21, 2014

New Law Helps Ex-Offenders

This spring, legislators passed a bill that bars private employers from requiring applicants to disclose their criminal histories until they've been deemed "qualified" for a job -- and that's a boon for ex-offenders, who are often denied employment solely because of past convictions... read more.

 

 


Friday, July 18, 2014

Can I Have Domestic Battery Expunged from My Record in Chicago?

Domestic battery is a serious offense in the state of Illinois, and it’s something that sticks with you if you’re convicted of it. As a Chicago expungement attorney, people ask me all the time if there’s any way to expunge domestic battery from their records. The answer? Maybe.

Domestic Battery Expungement

In some cases, domestic battery is a charge that’s there to stay. Law enforcement officials, the military and even potential landlords and employers may be able to view your record and see that you were convicted of domestic battery.

Don’t lose hope yet, though. Sometimes domestic battery can be expunged in the state of Illinois. It’s not always easy, and it’s not always quick, but it can be done.

How to Expunge a Domestic Battery Conviction

Illinois law is very clear about what can and cannot be expunged. A domestic battery conviction is one of the things that can be expunged, but only under certain conditions.

  • You must have no other convictions.
  • You must have been sentenced to court supervision only.
  • Your conviction must have been more than five years ago.

Naturally, if you were acquitted of charges or if no actual charges were filed (if you were only arrested on suspicion of domestic battery), you can have it expunged from your record.

Most people find that working with an attorney makes the whole process easier. Generally, you’ll bring your entire record—your criminal background report—to your expungement lawyer. He’ll look at everything and help you determine whether you’re really eligible. If you are, he’ll help you move forward with the process.

Expunging Domestic Battery from Your Record

It’s not a simple process. There are forms to fill out and file, and you may have to show up to explain yourself in front of a judge. (If you do, your lawyer will be by your side and help ensure that your side of the story comes out.) Sometimes the state’s attorney objects to the expungement; if that happens, you have the right to present witnesses and supporting evidence that helps your case.

 


Friday, July 04, 2014

Expungement vs. Sealing in Illinois

Expungement and sealing aren’t interchangeable terms. They both have the same goal, though: to limit or prevent other people from having access to your criminal record. There are some fundamental differences, however, and you need to know about them if you have any kind of criminal record – even if you’ve been arrested but never charged with a crime.

So what’s the difference between an expungement and a criminal record sealing in Illinois?

Expungement vs. Sealing

Expungement is what happens when a judge orders that your records be destroyed or that they are returned to you. It’s like starting fresh with a clean slate. That also means that people can’t access your records – there’s nothing there for them to access.

Potential employers, landlords, lenders and the general public will never know that you were even arrested unless you tell them.

Criminal record sealing is more like tucking the files away and preventing most people from accessing them. The general public won’t be able to find records that have been sealed, but the agencies that created them can still retain copies.

Very few people are allowed access to sealed records. Those who are allowed include law enforcement personnel and a handful of potential employers (like the military, people hiring for schools and health care providers).

Some things cannot be expunged but can be sealed, including some drug possession charges, prostitution and felony arrests that never resulted in prosecution. It’s always best to check with your Chicago expungement attorney to figure out whether you qualify for an expungement or if you can seal your criminal record – he’ll know exactly what to do in your situation.

Expungement in Chicago

Governor Pat Quinn recently signed legislation that expunges juvenile arrest records once the arrestees turn 18. If that doesn’t apply to you but you still want to move forward with a clean slate, call a lawyer who handles expungements in Chicago, Rolling Meadows, Skokie and Schaumberg – it might be the best decision you ever make.

 


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