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Chicago Criminal Expungements Blog

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.


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.


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