Chicago Criminal Expungements Blog

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.


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 7, 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.


Archived Posts


© 2019 Xpunge Chicago
10024 Skokie Blvd., Suite 210, Skokie, IL 60077
| Phone: 847-920-4540
1600 Golf Road, Suite 1200, Rolling Meadows, IL 60008
| Phone: 847-920-4540
1136 S. Delano Court West, Suite B201, Chicago, IL 60605
| Phone: 847-920-4540

Expungement/Sealing | Serving | Testimonials | Background Checks | Payment | Attorney Profiles

Attorney Website Design by
Amicus Creative