Chicago Criminal Expungements Blog
Friday, August 15, 2014
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:
- Retail theft
- Deceptive practice
- 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.Matt Fakhoury
Friday, August 1, 2014
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.Matt Fakhoury
Monday, July 21, 2014
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.Matt Fakhoury
Friday, July 18, 2014
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.Matt Fakhoury
Friday, July 4, 2014
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.
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation in early June, effectively giving a handful of Chicago adults a free pass on mistakes they made as minors. The new law automatically expunges juvenile arrest records in a limited number of cases, which can help young people move away from their past and toward a brighter future -- one that doesn't include a criminal record.
is a Chicago criminal defense attorney who handles expungements and sealings in the Greater Chicago area.
Friday, June 20, 2014
Criminal record expungement is a way for you to start fresh, with a clean slate – no more having to tell potential employers, landlords, or anyone else that you’ve been charged with or convicted of a crime. Many people choose to work with a Skokie expungement attorney so they can enjoy having a spotless criminal record.
But what about felonies? Do they count when it comes to criminal record expungement?
Criminal Record Expungement and Felonies
Most felonies don’t qualify for criminal record expungement. Even if you were convicted of a non-violent felony, you may not be able to expunge or seal your record.
Generally, criminal record expungement is limited to arrests that didn’t result in convictions, minor misdemeanors and a small number of felony drug possession convictions. Some honorably discharged veterans may qualify for criminal record expungement of Class 3 or Class 4 felonies, so if that applies to you, let your lawyer know.
If you’re not sure whether your conviction qualifies, get a copy of your criminal record and talk to an experienced expungement lawyer in Skokie who can let you know. Every case is different, so don’t assume that you can’t start fresh without checking with an attorney.
What Can Be Expunged in Illinois?
Some Class 4 drug convictions, as well as Class 4 prostitution, can be expunged in the state of Illinois. In addition to actual convictions, your case could qualify for criminal record expungement if you were found not guilty in court, there were no charges filed against you, or if your case was dismissed.
There are several other convictions that can be expunged as long as you don’t have any other convictions (but other restrictions might apply, such as being sentenced only to court supervision or waiting a set period of time).
Even if you’ve been convicted of a felony in Chicago, Skokie, Rolling Meadows or Schaumberg, you may not have to live with it hanging over your head each time you try to get a new job, move, or do anything that requires you to disclose your criminal history. You owe it to yourself – and to your family – to find out whether you qualify for criminal record expungement.
Friday, June 6, 2014
Last year, there were about 21,000 juvenile arrests in Illinois. Many of them were for small misdemeanor charges, and in Cook County, about 75 percent of these arrests don’t even result in criminal charges. The problem? Those arrests will stay on their records unless they work through the court system or call a Chicago expungement attorney to get them taken off.
So what does that mean for their futures?
Juveniles with Criminal Records
It’s no secret that having a criminal record can hurt future opportunities. Everything from housing to employment can be affected; it can even be harder to get a college degree.
Mayor Rahm Emmanuel is backing a bill that would automatically expunge these kids’ records—as long as certain conditions are met—and that’s a huge step forward. However, it hasn’t been enacted yet. The bill will clear kids’ records once they turn 18 if:
- At least six months have passed since the arrest and there have been no other arrests during that time
- The arrest wasn’t for a Class 2 or higher felony
- The arrest wasn’t for a sex offense
- The arrest didn’t result in a petition for delinquency being filed with the clerk of the circuit court
While this can seriously improve a young adult’s chances to get a good job, find a suitable place to live, and get into the right school, there are still thousands of other people in Chicago and the surrounding areas who are being held back by juvenile arrest records.
Clearing Your Own Juvenile Record
If you’re one of the thousands of adults whose juvenile record tags along wherever you go, you might be able to do something about it. The first thing you need to do is get your criminal background report and then consult with a Chicago lawyer who deals with expungements and record sealing. The after-effects of an arrest that happened 10, 20 or even 30 years ago can haunt you for the rest of your life; the good news is that you may not have to let them.
Friday, May 23, 2014
While marijuana has become legal in a handful of states, it’s not legal in Illinois – and if you’re caught with it and convicted, it’s a permanent stain on your record. That means potential employers can see it if they’re doing a background check; a marijuana conviction might also get in the way when a potential landlord checks your criminal history.
There’s still hope, though. Under the Cannabis Control Act, you might be able to get a marijuana conviction expunged. Whether you’re in Skokie, Schaumberg, Rolling Meadows or Chicago, Xpunge Chicago may be able to help.
What is the Cannabis Control Act?
The Cannabis Control Act redirects law enforcement efforts toward large-scale dealers and commercial traffickers. According to the text of the law, the previous legislation brought a huge segment of people into the Illinois criminal justice system who didn’t really need to be there; at the same time, people still continued to use marijuana.
Can Marijuana Charges be Expunged in Illinois?
Some marijuana charges and convictions can be expunged in Illinois, even if they are felonies. Under Section 4 of the Cannabis Control Act, where it describes the charges for possessing marijuana, having between 10 and 30 grams of pot on a second (or subsequent) offense is a Class 4 felony – and in some cases, it can be expunged under Illinois law.
How to Know Whether You Qualify For Expungement
Many people who have been convicted of a Class 4 felony for marijuana do qualify, but it’s best to consult with an Illinois expungement attorney to find out if you’re one of them. Expungement can give you a new lease on life by clearing your record, but if you don’t qualify, you may still be able to get your records sealed. While they’ll still be available to law enforcement, they won’t be available to everyday citizens (such as non-government employers and landlords), and that can make your life a lot easier.
Matt Fakhoury is a criminal defense attorney serving the Chicago area. XpungeChicago is dedicated to helping people expand their futures through the expungement process.
Friday, May 9, 2014
The Chicago expungement process can take months, and if you’re doing it yourself, you’ll need to do a lot of research. Many people choose to work with a Chicago expungement attorney because navigating through the court system alone can be pretty intimidating.
But how does it all work? What does your lawyer have to go through to wipe the slate clean so you can start fresh?
The Chicago Expungement Process Explained
Your lawyer will first ask you for any documentation you have from your arrest. He’ll make sure that you’re eligible for an expungement (and if you’re not, your lawyer may still be able to have them sealed).
Then the real work begins.
Your attorney will find out what agency arrested you, who prosecuted your case, and track down your state identification number, or SID number. Once he has all of the necessary information, he’ll begin filing the appropriate forms with the appropriate authorities. He’ll also notify the Illinois State Police that you want your record expunged (that’s required by law).
During the next part of the Chicago expungement process, the court may require you to come in for a hearing; if you need to appear in court, your lawyer will be there to represent you. The State’s Attorney is allowed to object, and if that happens, you have the right to a hearing in front of a judge (your lawyer will be there, as well).
If your judge approves your expungement, he or she will sign a legally binding order. From there, the Circuit Clerk will send certified copies to the agency that arrested you (and their Chief Legal Officer), the State’s Attorney, and the Illinois State Police. Your lawyer can do the follow-up to make sure everything has been handled properly.
Once you have an order from the judge, the Chicago expungement process is over – you’re free to move forward with a clean criminal record. Because it requires a few trips to the courthouse, filing paperwork with multiple agencies and a significant amount of time to get everything done, most people choose to work with a Chicago expungement lawyer who’s been through the process several times.
Matt Fakhoury is a former expungement prosecutor who currently works with clients all over Chicago, Skokie and Rolling Meadows. Expunge your past, expand your future!
Friday, April 25, 2014
You see the terms pardon and clemency in the news from time to time, but they can be a little confusing. Sometimes they’re used interchangeably, but there are technical differences between the two that drastically affect the people they’re applied to. In our area, either of these is usually the result of a Chicago expungement lawyer’s hard work and negotiation.
What is a Pardon?
A pardon is like a fresh start. It completely overturns a conviction and takes it off of the person’s record. Because a pardon does that, it’s like the crime was never committed at all.
A person who has been pardoned isn’t subjected to any restrictions that other ex-convicts are; he or she won’t have to register, visit a parole officer or state on job applications that they’ve been convicted of a crime.
What is Clemency?
Clemency literally means leniency. It’s a general term for reducing penalties without completely removing a conviction from someone’s record. A good example of clemency is when a governor puts a death penalty on hold and changes a sentence from execution to life in prison; the person is still considered a convict, but the penalty has been significantly lessened.
Are You Eligible for a Pardon or for Clemency?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for who can seek out a pardon or clemency. Every case in every jurisdiction is different, so it’s important that you understand that you may not get what you’re after. If you believe that you might be eligible for a pardon or clemency in the state of Illinois, you’ll need an aggressive attorney in your corner to fight for what’s right.
Call the Law Offices of M. Fakhoury at (847)920-4540 or send us a message online. We’ll be happy to review your case and figure out where to go from here.