Chicago Criminal Expungements Blog
Friday, August 14, 2015
Many people want to know if you can expunge sex offenses in Illinois. The answer is a little bit complex – and you won’t be able to figure out whether you can expunge a sex crime unless you understand what counts as a sex crime (and which people it applies to) in Chicago and the rest of the state.
What is a Sex Crime in Illinois?
A sex crime is a crime that involves sexual misconduct, including assault, unlawful sexual behavior or illegal pornography. Sex crimes also include statutory rape (even if you were under the age of consent at the time).
If the state convicts you of a sex crime, you’ll be considered a sex offender.
Can Sex Crimes Be Expunged in Chicago?
Illinois law is very clear about expunging sex crimes from your record. For the most part, it’s not possible to expunge a sex crime conviction – but there are some exceptions to the rule.
The exceptions include juvenile incidents that would not be felonies if an adult committed them. In those cases, you must be able to answer “Yes” to the following questions:
- Are you 21 years old or older?
- Has it been 5 years or longer since your last juvenile court proceeding?
- Has it been 5 years or longer since your commitment to the Department of Juvenile Justice has ended?
- Have you had a clean record (with no convictions for any crime) since you turned 18?
Even then, there are no guarantees that you can expunge a sex crime from your record.
Anyone who has been convicted of a sex crime that requires registration under the Sex Offender Registration Act cannot expunge or seal a record, even if the crime was a misdemeanor. Also, soliciting a sexual act or patronizing a prostitute can neither be expunged nor sealed.
Adults typically cannot expunge or seal any sex crimes from their criminal records. For the most part, you can’t expunge convictions; you can only clean up your record if you have been arrested but not convicted.
What Does the Sex Offender Registration Act Say?
The Illinois Sex Offender Registration Act outlines the people who must register as sex offenders. It includes people who have been:
- Convicted of a sex crime
- Found “not guilty” of a sex crime by reason of insanity
- The subject of a finding that doesn’t result in acquittal
- Declared as a “sexually dangerous person”
- Found to be a sexually violent person
Because every case is different, it’s best to talk to an expungement lawyer in Chicago who can evaluate your situation and let you know whether you may be able to clear your criminal record through expungement or sealing.
Friday, July 31, 2015
Having a juvenile record can prevent you from getting certain jobs – particularly those in regulated fields, such as nursing or law enforcement. Although juvenile records aren’t supposed to be available to the general public, sometimes they’re accidentally shared with potential employers.
The only real way to make sure nobody can find out about your juvenile record is to have it expunged. However, the military, some law enforcement agencies and the Department of Corrections can still access juvenile records if you apply for work with them, even after expungement.
Who Qualifies for Expungement of Juvenile Records in Chicago?
You can’t apply for expungement until you turn 18, but the good news is that there’s no upper age limit to apply. In some cases, your juvenile record will automatically disappear; this can happen if no petition for delinquency was filed and at least 6 months have passed since your arrest without another arrest or charge when you have turned 18 within the last calendar year.
You can only ask the state of Illinois to expunge certain parts of a juvenile record, including:
- Arrests when you were not charged with a crime
- Juvenile convictions for “lesser crimes,” such as Class B and Class C misdemeanors
- “Not guilty” verdicts
- Sentences of supervision
If you were convicted of a felony or a Class A misdemeanor as a juvenile, you can only ask for expungement if you are over 21, 5 years have passed since your sentence ended, and you have no criminal convictions as an adult.
You can also find out if you qualify for an expungement before you call an expungement lawyer for help.
Keep in mind that just because you were a minor at the time of your arrest or conviction, some things will not count as juvenile records.
You’ll have an adult record, not a juvenile record, if:
- You were arrested after you turned 18
- You were arrested for a felony after your 17th birthday and that arrest was before the year 2014
- You were arrested over a traffic offense, such as driving under the influence
- You were charged as an adult at any time while you were a minor (in this case, you may still be eligible for expungement; your attorney will just need to file different paperwork)
Some records can never be expunged, including convictions of:
- First-degree murder
- Sexual offenses that would be a felony if they had been committed by an adult
- Class A misdemeanors or felonies if you have been convicted as an adult
How to Expunge a Juvenile Record
If you talk to a Chicago expungement lawyer, he’ll ask you for whatever supporting documentation you have. This can include:
- The name of the agency that arrested you
- The date of your arrest
- What you were charged with
- Your case’s disposition (dismissal, adjudicated delinquent or adjudicated not delinquent)
- Your final charge
- The date that your probation ended, your case was dismissed or that you were adjudicated not delinquent
It’s important to note that while many people can seal adult criminal records that cannot be expunged, you can’t seal juvenile records because they are already private.
Your attorney will be able to petition for an expungement on your behalf. If the state objects to expunging your record, you will be allowed to argue your case – and your attorney can do that for you, as well.
Friday, July 17, 2015
If you’re looking for a place to live in or around Chicago and you have a rap sheet, you might want to think about having your criminal record expunged or sealed.
That’s because landlords are allowed to pull up your criminal background when they’re considering potential renters – and they’re legally allowed to tell you that you can’t rent from them. If you’re applying for Chicago public housing through the Chicago Housing Authority, they’ll definitely check your criminal background.
What to Do to Clear Your Record Before Renting
According to the Illinois Housing Empowerment Handbook, landlords can request all kinds of information on you if you fill out a rental application. Know that if you provide your Social Security number, they’re probably going to check your credit and your criminal history.
The Housing Empowerment Handbook says, “If you have ever been arrested, especially if you were not guilty, consider expungement or sealing of your records. Expungement will erase the charge, as if the charge never happened. Sealing a record will keep it confidential. Persons who have their record expunged may be more successful searching for housing and employment.”
If you’re thinking about the benefits of clearing your record, find out if you’re eligible for expungement. Even if you aren’t, you may be able to have your criminal records sealed.
For many people, it’s easier to work with a Chicago expungement attorney who understands Illinois law and what it takes to clear up a criminal record.
The good news is that if you can get your criminal record cleared, a potential landlord won’t be able to turn you down based on your past. Keep in mind that landlords will still check your credit history and your rental history, and they’ll be able to see if you’ve been evicted before as well.
Do You Need to Clear Your Criminal Record in Illinois?
Call us at 847-920-4540 or contact us online so we can help. Everyone deserves a fresh start – and we’ll do what we can to put yours within your reach.
Friday, July 3, 2015
We’ve all heard of potential employers scouring through social media profiles to find out more about the people they may hire, but what about criminal records? Just how much can a potential employer learn about you – and what can they use against you?
How Can Employers Use Your Criminal History Against You in Illinois?
About 65 million Americans have criminal records, and statistics show that about 92 percent of employers actually conduct criminal background checks for some positions within their ranks. That means it could be tough to compete for a job… particularly in this economy.
Illinois law clearly states that employers can’t ask about criminal records that have been sealed or expunged. They can’t ask about arrests, either, and even if they know about an arrest, employers cannot use it to decide whether they’ll hire you.
They can request your permission to conduct a criminal background check, though, under these conditions:
- You must give written consent to a background check
- The employer must tell you if they will disqualify you based on what comes back in the criminal background check – and they must also give you a copy of the report
- The employer must notify you after they decide not to hire you based on information that was in your criminal history
Employers can check your record, but only with your consent. Further, they can decline to offer you a position based on what’s in your criminal record. However, there’s more to it.
Before an employer decides not to hire you, they are supposed to consider:
- How serious the crime was
- How long ago the crime occurred
- Whether the job and your past crime are incompatible
If you have a criminal record and you’re having a tough time getting a job, it might be a good idea to see if you qualify for an expungement under Illinois law. If you don’t, you may still qualify to have your record sealed. A Chicago sealing and expungement lawyer may be able to help you leave the past behind and move forward with your life.
Friday, June 19, 2015
If you’re like most people who are interested in getting a Chicago criminal record expunged, you might find that it’s easiest to work with an attorney who already knows the ropes and who’s done it successfully for other people.
But where do you even begin?
What to Ask Your Chicago Expungement Lawyer
You can always ask your attorney anything – he’ll be more than happy to use his in-depth knowledge of Illinois law to help you.
When it comes to expungement, though, there are a few things you should ask your lawyer so you know what to expect throughout the process.
1. Where will you get my criminal record?
You may already have copies; maybe you tried Illinois criminal record clearing before or you had the foresight to get your records on your own. If you don’t have your criminal record, your attorney can usually get it for you.
2. Does my record qualify for expungement?
Not all records do qualify for expungement, but the good news is that many qualify for criminal record sealing in Illinois.
3. How long does the expungement process take in Cook County?
While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, your lawyer will be able to determine how long your case will probably take. It depends on the location, the breadth of your case and the courts’ current schedules. You’ll also have to wait for the clerk of court to process your paperwork; there are some other variables, as well.
Would You Like to Clear Your Criminal Record in Chicago?
Check out our quick questionnaire, “Am I Eligible for Expungement?” to get a head start on the expungement or sealing process. If you may be eligible, call us at 847-920-4540 so we can get started on processing your case. The sooner we petition the court for expungement or sealing, the sooner they can approve it… and the sooner you can get the fresh start that you deserve.
Friday, June 5, 2015
The unfortunate truth is that some crimes cannot be expunged in Chicago or the rest of Illinois.
In order to qualify for expungement in Illinois, your record must meet certain criteria. With that said, there are some crimes that make you ineligible for expungement.
What Criminal Records Cannot Be Expunged in Chicago?
If you have charges pending right now, you can't have anything expunged. You'll have to wait until the case is resolved before your lawyer can take any action to clear your criminal record.
Some convictions can never be expunged from your record. For example, DUI and reckless driving cases cannot be expunged if you have been convicted. Sexual offenses committed by a minor (under the age of 18) cannot be expunged if you were sentenced to supervision for them.
You can't expunge your record if you have any offenses that resulted in a conviction, unless the conviction has been reversed, vacated, pardoned or approved by the Prisoner Review Board for expungement.
If you're found guilty and have received a sentence of:
- Conditional discharges
- Jail time
- Prison time
- Probation (not including 710, 1410 or TASC probation)
- Supervision that you have not successfully completed
- Time served
If you have a conviction on your record that doesn't qualify for expungement, you are not eligible to have any of your record expunged.
However, many offenses don't result in convictions. Those cases can include outcomes such as:
- Convictions that were pardoned by the governor
- Convictions that were approved for expungement by the Prisoner Review Board
- Convictions that were reversed or vacated
- Nolle prosequi (NP)
- Supervision, as long as you satisfied the conditions of the supervision set forth during sentencing
- Stricken off with leave to reinstate
- Finding of no probable cause
- Released without charging
- Successful completion of First Time Offender drug probation, such as 710 or 1410 probation
- Not guilty verdicts
Friday, May 22, 2015
If you're like many people with a few blemishes on your criminal record, you could be a good candidate for expungement. Cook County and the state of Illinois have specific procedures in place to help people get a fresh start – but in order to take advantage of what the county and the state have to offer, you first must determine whether you’re eligible for expungement. Most people use our “Am I Eligible for Expungement in Illinois?” tool to get started.
Remember: even if you’ve been arrested and released, or if your case was dismissed, you have a criminal record in Illinois. The only way your criminal record will “disappear” is if you have those records expunged or sealed.
Cook County Expungements: What to Expect
If you are eligible for expungement, it’s usually a good idea to get in touch with an attorney who can walk you through the entire process.
Your lawyer will need copies of your arrest records and any other legal documents you have. If you don’t have them, that’s okay, too – in most cases, we can conduct an in-depth background check to determine exactly what’s on your criminal record in Chicago and the rest of the state.
Once we have all the information we need, we’ll file a petition with the court to ask them to review your case.
The state’s attorney can look at your petition and decide whether he or she wants to fight your expungement or sealing. If the state’s attorney objects, you might be entitled to a hearing to find out why – and state your side of the case.
If that happens, your Chicago expungement lawyer will represent you in court to ensure that the judge hears your side of the story.
We know it can be tough to get a job, find a place to live and do a number of other things if you have a criminal record, so it can’t hurt to find out whether you’re eligible for an expungement in Cook County or the rest of Illinois.
Friday, May 8, 2015
Lots of people conduct background checks; potential employers, landlords and others want to know who you are and what you bring to the table.
Unfortunately, what they find can send them running in the other direction.
Do you know exactly what’s on your criminal record?
When Do You Need a Background Check Lawyer in Chicago?
If you suspect that there might be a few blemishes – or if you know there are a few blemishes – on your criminal record, you might consider hiring a background check lawyer to find out exactly what they are.
In some cases, a background check lawyer can perform the groundwork that lets you petition the court for an expungement of your record. Remember, though, not everyone is eligible for expungement. (You can answer a few simple questions on our Am I Eligible for Expungement? questionnaire to find out whether it’s an option for you.)
Do People Need My Consent to Run a Background Check in Chicago?
For the most part, an employer or property owner needs to ask for your permission to conduct a thorough background check. He or she will be able to gather some information without your consent, such as items that are a matter of public record or things that you’ve put out there yourself (Facebook posts and Twitter feeds are often more telling than we intend them to be).
What Comes Up on an Illinois Background Check?
A thorough Illinois background check will show arrests, convictions and sentences. That means even if you were not convicted of a crime, someone conducting a thorough background check may be able to see that you were arrested.
Some employers may deny you a job opportunity, and some landlords may choose another tenant. While that’s not fair – particularly if your criminal record is old and you’ve made changes for the better – it still happens.
If you are eligible for expungement, you may be able to erase your criminal record so that it will not come up in background checks conducted in Chicago or the rest of Illinois. In cases such as these, many people find that it's a good idea to work with a Chicago background check attorney who also helps with expungements and criminal record sealing.
Friday, April 24, 2015
If you live in Cook County, you could be eligible to expunge your criminal record and get a fresh start. Imagine: no potential employers finding out that you have a criminal record, landlords refusing to rent to you because you’ve been arrested before…
But how do you know if you qualify for expungement in Chicago or the rest of Cook County?
Do You Qualify for Expungement in Chicago/Cook County?
In order to determine whether you qualify for expungement, you can get in touch with a Cook County expungement lawyer who can help you understand Illinois law.
Before you do that, though, ask yourself these four questions:
1. Do you have any pending charges, or are you involved in a court case that is still open? In order to qualify for expungement in Cook County, you must not be involved in any current court cases. You must wait until you’re no longer on parole, probation or under court supervision, as well.
2. Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces (any branch) who has been honorably discharged? If so, was the crime you were convicted of violent, sexual or gun-related? Honorably discharged veterans convicted of Class 3 or Class 4 felonies may be eligible for expungement, as long as the crime was nonviolent, not sexual in nature, and did not involve a gun.
3. Were you on “Second Chance Probation”? Have you successfully completed it? People who were given “Second Chance Probation” and have successfully completed it do not have an actual conviction on their records; that means you may be able to have it expunged or sealed.
4. Do your court dispositions only include these terms?:
- Acquittal (not guilty)
- Stricken with Leave (SOL)
- Finding of No Probable Cause (FNPC)
- Nolle Prosequi (NP)
- No charges filed
- TASC probation
If you have convictions on your record but have some charges with these dispositions, you are probably not eligible for expungement. However, you may be able to have some portions of your criminal record sealed.
Your best bet is to talk with a Chicago/Cook County expungement lawyer who can explain your rights and help determine whether you’re eligible to clear your criminal record.
Friday, April 10, 2015
If you want to have some or all of your criminal record expunged in Cook County, Illinois, your attorney will need copies of every record that authorities have on file. While your lawyer can conduct a background check for you, you can also get your own records and bring them to your appointment.
Types of Cook County Criminal Records
There are three main types of criminal records:
1. Local arrest records. Your local arrest records will show all your arrests and charges, as well as the outcomes of any court cases you have been a party to.
2. State arrest records. Your state arrest records will show all of your convictions within the state of Illinois.
3. Court dispositions. Court dispositions are simply the final judgment in a court case you have been part of; you won’t have court dispositions if you weren’t arrested or charged.
While there are a few exceptions, you usually can’t expunge your record if a Cook County court has convicted you of a crime.
How to Get Your Criminal Records in Skokie, Schaumburg or Rolling Meadows
Most people choose to have their expungement lawyer get their criminal records because it’s much simpler. However, if you want to get your own, you’ll need to visit the arresting agency – the police department that arrested and booked you – to get a copy of your arrest records.
If you have been convicted of a crime, your Illinois state records will reflect that; you can get those records from the Illinois State Police. Remember, in most cases, you cannot expunge convictions from your record. However, you might be able to seal them, so it’s a good idea to talk to your lawyer about your options if you want a fresh start.
You can also get copies of court dispositions from the courthouse at which you were tried. You’ll need to talk to the clerk of the court to find out what that court’s procedures are.
There are usually fees involved with all criminal record requests, as well as with court disposition requests. Check with the agency that has your records to see whether they accept credit cards, cash or checks.
If you’d like to make the process simpler, feel free to call us at 847-920-4540 or contact us online. We can pull your criminal record for you and then give you case-specific legal advice on how to proceed with your expungement or sealing.
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Governor Bruce Rauner (R) issued his first two pardons in the state of Illinois in early April, and there's still a considerable backlog for him to work his way through. His office rejected 57 out of the 59 clemency requests, and he's still facing thousands left behind by former Governor Pat Quinn. (Quinn reviewed nearly 5,000 petitions, granting about 1,800 of them and denying the rest.) Read more...