Chicago Criminal Expungements Blog

Friday, July 4, 2014

Expungement vs. Sealing in Illinois

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

Chicago Expungement of Juvenile Records: New Legislation to Help Young Adults

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 in Illinois: What About Felonies?

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

Juvenile Arrest Records: Is There Any Hope?

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

Can I Get a Marijuana Conviction Expunged in Illinois?

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.

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 Explained

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.

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

What's the Difference Between a Pardon and Clemency?

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.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Drug Charges and Getting a Job

Getting a job is hard enough without a past drug charge casting a shadow on your past. Fortunately, with the help of a talented Chicago expungement lawyer, you may be able to have your records locked away where potential employers won’t find them.

The Facts on Drug Charges and Employment

Statistics suggest that more than 80 percent of employers do criminal background checks on people they want to hire. Having a drug charge can be bad news, particularly if you’re looking for a security position, a job that requires constant mental alertness (including factory work and construction), and just about any other job.

Getting Rid of Your Record

The last thing you want is for a potential employer to pick someone else for the job because they found a criminal drug charge in your past.

While expungement isn’t a solution for everyone, you may be able to have your record cleaned up – at least enough that most potential employers won’t be able to see drug crimes. Expunging your record isn’t a universal solution, either; some things can’t be expunged, and some potential employers (such as the military and law enforcement) may still be able to see sealed records.

How to Have Drug Charges Expunged

In most cases, it’s a good idea to talk with an attorney to determine whether you’re eligible for expungement. Even if you are not, you might still be able to have your records sealed. Your lawyer will file a petition on your behalf; from there, you may need to appear at a hearing to explain why you deserve to have your records expunged or sealed.

Once the court approves your petition, your lawyer can send the order to the Illinois State Police and the agency that arrested you. While this process can take quite some time, it’s worth a shot – especially if you’re having a hard time finding a job because of mistakes you made in the past.



Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bill Automatically Expunges Some Juvenile Arrests: Blog

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago's mayor is throwing his support behind legislation that would automatically expunge certain juvenile arrest records.

The bill expunges any arrest for people under 18 who are never formally charged. The records would be erased once the person turns 18.

Read more


Monday, March 31, 2014

State's Objection: What to Do at Your Hearing

When the state objects to your expungement, it’s normal to be upset. That doesn’t mean your judge will deny your request, but it does mean that you may be entitled to a hearing.

Remember, when you ask for your record to be sealed or expunged, you’re dealing with people who don’t know you; they don’t know anything about you other than what they’re reading on paper. That’s why it’s important to give your lawyer as much information as possible so that he can argue on your behalf.

Why the State’s Attorney Might Object

The State’s Attorney (the lawyer who represents the state of Illinois) may feel that you deserve to have your records expunged. However, in some cases, an extensive criminal record or certain types of crimes may lead the State’s Attorney to object to your expungement. If that happens, your lawyer can request an expungement hearing.

Tips for Your Expungement Hearing: What You Need to Know

Your lawyer will sit down and discuss the basics with you before your hearing. He’ll tell you how to respond to questions you may be asked, and he’ll explain how the process will go from start to finish. He’ll also answer any case-specific questions you have, so it’s a good idea to keep a running list of questions that you can ask all at once.

At your hearing, it’s important that you present a good image. If you don’t have a suit or office attire, that’s okay (but if you do, you should wear it). You just need to wear something that’s appropriate for the court’s formal environment, so aim for something that you could wear to church or to a funeral. T-shirts that have profanity, feature illegal activities or drugs, or are in bad repair should never be worn to court; open-toed shoes or sandals aren’t acceptable, either.

Address the judge as “Your Honor” and wait for your lawyer to give you the green light before you speak up. A little respect can go a long way in the courtroom, so don’t lose your cool. In short, act like you would in front of your grandmother and follow your lawyer’s lead.

While there’s no guarantee that your record will be sealed or expunged, it doesn’t hurt to try. With the help of an experienced lawyer, you may be able to work your way through this and start fresh. If you don’t know where to start, call us at (847)920-4540 or contact us online. We’ll be glad to help.


Monday, March 17, 2014

3 Things You Need to Know About Expungement: Blog

3 Things You Need to Know About Expungements:

A blemish on your criminal record can stay forever – and it can damage your chances of getting a job, a security clearance or even credit. Mistakes made in the past should remain in the past, but most people need the help of an attorney to ensure that they stay there. If you intend to have your record expunged in Chicago, there are three key things you need to know: what it means, how it’s done, and what happens the next time your background is checked.

What Does it Mean to Have Something Expunged?

When something is expunged from your record in Illinois, it basically disappears. It can’t come back to haunt you later, but it does take hard work and in many cases, legal red tape that can hold up the process. Not all offenses qualify for expungement, so it’s best to talk to your lawyer about the specifics of your case.

How Are Records Expunged in Illinois?

Through a series of complex forms and one or more court appearances, your Chicago criminal defense attorney will make an appeal to a judge on your behalf. He’ll provide the judge with a compelling reason to expunge or seal your Illinois criminal record – whether it’s because you need to get a license that’s required for a job or because you need to pass a background check for any other reason.

During this process, you may have to attend a hearing and present evidence why the court should rule in your favor.

There are three possible outcomes:

• The judge could deny your request.
• The judge could order that your record is destroyed.
• The judge could order that your records are sealed and only made available for certain law enforcement and sentencing purposes.

After a Record is Expunged or Sealed

When you have a criminal record, employers and others can see arrests, convictions and other information. However, when a judge orders your record to be expunged or sealed, that information won’t be publicly available.

Your criminal record doesn’t have to hold you back any longer. If you need help, call us at (847)920-4540 or contact us online.


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