Chicago Criminal Expungements Blog

Friday, May 8, 2015

When Do You Need a Background Check Lawyer in Chicago?

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

Am I Eligible for Expungement in Chicago and Cook County?

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…

It’s possible.

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
  • Dismissal
  • Supervision
  • 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

How to Get Your Criminal Records in Skokie, Schaumburg or Rolling Meadows

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

New Governor, New Pardons: Gov. Bruce Rauner Issues First Two Pardons

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...

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.


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