Chicago Criminal Expungements Blog

Friday, March 27, 2015

Cook County Expungement FAQ

If you’re living in Cook County, the expungement rules are the same as they are in DuPage, Lake and Will Counties; in fact, they’re the same all over Illinois.

But what are those rules? Could you be eligible for expungement, and if you are, how do you go about getting it done?

This quick expungement FAQ should point you in the right direction.

What convictions can be expunged from a criminal record in Cook County?

A handful of misdemeanors (and in rare cases, Class 3 and Class 4 felonies) can be expunged from your record. Some examples include:

  • Possession of cannabis
  • Possession of a controlled substance
  • Retail theft
  • Domestic battery
  • Criminal sexual abuse

One of the biggest determining factors in whether you are eligible for expungement is the type of sentence you received at the conclusion of your case.

If you have no conviction and your case resulted in an acquittal or dismissal, or a handful of other dispositions, you may also qualify for expungement.

How do I find out if I qualify for expungement in Illinois?

We can help you determine whether you’re eligible for expungement. Just provide a few answers on our questionnaire: Do I Qualify for Expungement?

Where do I get my criminal history?

To make things simpler, you can have a lawyer perform a background check for you. You can also get in touch with the arresting agency to determine what procedures they follow for releasing criminal records.

What if I don’t have my entire criminal history?

It’s important that you bring your entire criminal history to your Chicago expungement lawyer. That’s because qualifying for expungement depends on all of the other things on your record. Having your lawyer pull your criminal background report may be more effective at ensuring you have all of the information you need.

Could You Be Eligible for Expungement?

Call the Law Offices of M. Fakhoury at 847-920-4540 or contact us online for a free consultation. We may be able to help you clear your record and get the fresh start that you deserve.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Veterans and Expungement in Illinois

For the most part, anyone with a conviction on his or her criminal record cannot have the record expunged. However, there’s one group who can.

Every case is different, but if you were honorably discharged from the United States Armed Forces, you might be able to have your conviction expunged.

Honorably Discharged Veterans and Expungement

Some veterans who have been convicted of certain Class 3 or Class 4 felonies are eligible for expungement in the state of Illinois.

Class 3 and Class 4 felonies that veterans can have expunged must be:

  • Non-violent
  • Non-sexual
  • Non-gun-related

Remember that every case is different, though, so it’s best to talk to a Chicago expungement attorney who can help you determine whether your record is eligible for expungement.

The statute says, “Persons who have been convicted of Class 3 or 4 felonies and thereafter served in the United States Armed Forces or National Guard and received an honorable discharge, may now file a petition before the Illinois Prisoner Review Board to seek a certificate of eligibility for expungement. Additionally, persons who at the time of filing such a petition are enlisted in the United States Armed Forces or National Guard and who have served one tour of duty may also file such a petition.”

What Your Lawyer Will Need to Help Expunge Your Record

Once your attorney determines that you’re eligible for expungement, he’ll need some things from you. If you have a copy of your arrest records, any court paperwork or any written records that pertain to your conviction and sentence, your lawyer will need to see them. He’ll also need your DD-214 in order to properly argue the case that you deserve an expungement.

Block 24 of your DD-214 shows your “Character of Service”; that is the type of discharge you received from the Armed Forces. Your lawyer can point you in the right direction if you have an Under Honorable Conditions discharge, rather than a traditional Honorable discharge, because every situation is unique.

If you no longer have a copy of your DD-214, you can request one through the National Archives’ eVetRecs service.



Friday, February 27, 2015

Concealed Carry Permits and Expungements in Chicago

Now that you're allowed to carry a concealed weapon in Chicago, it might be a good idea to get your criminal record expunged if you want to get a permit.

While an arrest record doesn't necessarily preclude you from being approved for a concealed carry permit, it could have an effect on whether law enforcement agencies object to you having one.

Eligibility for Concealed Carry Permits in Illinois

According to the Illinois State Police

"If an applicant has 5 or more arrests for any reason, that have been entered into the Criminal History Records Information (CHRI) System, within the 7 years preceding the date of application for a license, or has 3 or more arrests within the 7 years preceding the date of application for a license for any combination of gang-related offenses, the Department shall object and submit the applicant's arrest record, the application materials, and any additional information submitted by a law enforcement agency to the Board."

That means you could be denied a concealed carry permit based on old arrests that have nothing to do with your character or who you are today.

Requirements for a Concealed Carry Permit in Illinois

Once you have your prior arrests cleared from your record, you still need to meet the state's other requirements. Those requirements include:

  • 16 hours of concealed carry training provided by an ISP-approved instructor, as well as an electric copy of the training certificates
  • An Illinois digital ID
  • A driver's license or state ID card
  • A valid FOID card
  • An electronic head-and-shoulder photograph taken within the previous 30 days
  • Fingerprints
  • Documentation for the last 10 years of your residence history

If the approving law enforcement agency deems that you have too many prior arrests on your record, or if they find another reason to object to your application, you could be denied. (The $150 application fee is non-refundable.)

Talking to a Lawyer About Expungement

If you have arrests on your record, it's a good idea to talk to an attorney about expungement. It could make the difference in whether you're approved for a concealed carry permit as well as provide you with several other benefits.

Friday, February 13, 2015

How to Get a Pardon from the Governor of Illinois

A pardon from the governor of Illinois can change your life – it can literally give you a fresh start. But how do you apply for a pardon in Illinois, and what are the chances it will be approved?

How to Get a Pardon from the Governor of Illinois

Pardons aren’t incredibly common, but they are granted to some people. A pardon can clear your criminal record after you’ve been convicted of a crime; without a pardon, a criminal conviction will stay there forever.

If you’ve been convicted of a crime, the governor has authority from the Constitution to pardon you. Most people choose to work with a Chicago pardon lawyer to undertake the process, because it’s not always easy (and it can take a substantial amount of time).

The Pardon Application Process

You’ll need to gather a substantial amount of information, including your arrest records, any sentencing paperwork you have, and put together clear, valid reasons that explain why you deserve a pardon.

Your lawyer will submit a petition to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board on your behalf; you then have the right to request a hearing. Your attorney can come with you to the hearing and help you present your case. He’ll also provide moral support so that you can walk in with confidence – sometimes knowing that somebody has your back helps quite a bit.

Once you’ve had your hearing with the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, they'll put their heads together and make a recommendation to the governor. From there, you have to wait for the governor to make a final decision. There’s no law that requires the governor to make a decision within a certain time frame, so you could be waiting for months or years.

What to Do if Your Pardon is Denied

Illinois law allows you to request a pardon a year after your previous request was denied. You can ask as many times as you want, and if one governor denies it repeatedly, there’s nothing to say that the next one who takes office will follow suit.

, Chicago expungement lawyer

Friday, January 30, 2015

How Long Does it Take to Seal a Criminal Record in Chicago?

Clearing your Illinois criminal record can make a huge difference in your life, but it’s an involved process that takes time to complete.

How Long Does it Take to Seal a Criminal Record in Chicago, Illinois?

The state of Illinois requires you to wait until the courts have completely closed before you can clear your criminal record. Additionally, there are certain waiting periods for different types of cases ad sentences, as well as an overview of your entire record.

Generally speaking, you will have to wait three to four years from the date that you successfully completed your sentence to have your criminal record sealed in Illinois.

You do not have to wait if a court has never convicted you of a crime and the final disposition on your case was:

  • Acquittal
  • Dismissal
  • Finding of no probable cause
  • No charges filed
  • Nolle Prosequi (NP)
  • Stricken with leave

If you have any convictions on your record, you’ll have to wait four years from the end of your most recent sentence to petition the court to seal your record.

Here’s a quick look at the other waiting periods involved (although there are exceptions to these rules, so you’ll need to talk to a Chicago expungement lawyer to be sure).

  • Possession of cannabis or of a controlled substance (select cases only): 3 years
  • Reckless driving that occurred after January 1, 2013 and you were under the age of 25 at the time: After you reach the age of 26
  • Some Class 3 or Class 4 felonies that do not involve violence, sex or guns: 5 years
  • Misdemeanors that do not involve sexual offense against minors (people under the age of 18), DUI or reckless driving

When Sealing is Not an Option

There are some cases that cannot be sealed in Illinois. Your attorney can give you a more complete picture, but some of these cases include:

  • Misdemeanor violations of the Humane Care for Animals Act
  • DUI
  • Dog fighting
  • Pimping
  • Distribution of Harmful Material
  • Reckless conduct
  • Criminal sexual abuse
  • Violation of an Order of Protection

If you’re not sure whether you’re eligible to seal your record, or what the mandatory waiting periods are, talk to your attorney. He’ll be able to fill you in on all the details of sealing a criminal record in Illinois.


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 2, 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 5, 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 5, 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.


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