Articles Posted in Expungements

nicolas-barbier-garreau-256433-copy-300x240LeRoy Martin, Jr., the Cook County judge presiding over the Dante Servin expungement denied an expungement request after he was acquitted of a fatal shooting during an off-duty altercation with a female bystander. 

Judges can consider the strength of the prosecution’s case when deciding whether an expungement is warranted. While there will not be a conviction on his record, the charges will still be available through public records. 

Servin faced a bench trial before Judge Dennis Porter. Police officers often request bench trials in these types of situations to avoid juries who may not be sympathetic to their cause. This is especially true in Chicago where police have earned themselves a less-than-stellar reputation as guardians of the community. 

esteban-lopez-234052-copy-300x200As Illinois moves to become the latest state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, many individuals who have criminal records for possession are about to see those records expunged. Under the new law, possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana at a time is authorized by law. Possessing greater quantities, however, is still considered criminal under Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act

Law enforcement will use an algorithm to go through all the criminal records in Chicago and expunge any record of possession of marijuana that was at or below 30 grams. Those who have been caught with 500 grams or less can also have their records expunged, but they are required to petition the court to do so. 500 grams is over a pound, so this would be considered trafficking territory. 

If you have a conviction for under 30 grams, then you do not have to do anything at all. The court will take care of it automatically and issue you a notice that your record has been expunged. Anything over 30 grams will require you to petition the court for an expungement

jufcqxgcxwa-samuel-zeller-300x200The enactment of freedom of information laws means that the public is a lot more aware of its rights in terms of accessing vital information about the community. This becomes even more critical when the information relates to personal issues such as criminal history. Individuals may request for this information for a number of reasons including application for a job, travel documents, and also as part of a court process. There are certain offenses such as sexual assault that lead to lifetime registrations, which are sometimes opened up to the public. Bureaucratic bottlenecks have sometimes been criticized for making it difficult for individuals to secure access to their rap sheet (otherwise known as a criminal record). However the Police Department Informational Guide sets out a basic framework.

Important Steps When Requesting Access

It is critical to identify the public agencies that you were involved in during or after the arrest. These will typically include the law enforcement agency, the clerk of the court, and the Illinois State Police. The Bureau of Identification of the ISP is ultimately responsible for maintaining and sharing information. At the federal level, the FBI maintains a master database that is accessible in exceptional circumstances. It is important to note that FBI request must be in writing and should indicate why the applicant is entitled to a copy of his or her arrest record. If it is a freedom of information act request, then some background information may be necessary. Ensure that your name and address are included. It is also imperative to send important identification details such as the date and place of birth as well as the applicant’s fingerprints.

800px-Kneaded_eraser-300x199For many offenders, the sentence handed down by the court is only the beginning of their punishment. In some ways a criminal record as mandated by the Criminal Identification Act is a much more difficult condition to deal with because it is permanent and insidious. Most people will make judgements about the capabilities and proclivities of an individual based on their criminal record. The people making these judgements are not party to the original case or any of the mitigating circumstances that could explain the person’s behavior at the time. More importantly, the criminal record leaves no room for real rehabilitation. All it does is to ensure that convicted people are forever consigned to the shadowy world of illicit activities. There have been many critiques of the criminal records system over the years including its role in increasing recidivism. However public opinion at the moment is ambivalent about the possibility of expunging records.

A Redemptive Scheme in Chicago

Chicago is one of the states that is exploring new ways of rehabilitating offenders. This is done through the process of sealing or expunging a criminal record for certain offenses, offenders, and circumstances. It is never a clean break because if the media has reported the case then all that is required is a Google search to get everything back up again. Many employers and potential spouses increasingly do those Google searches so either way the individual is stuck with their record unless they change name by deed poll. It is only the most experienced attorneys that are able to successfully get rid of a criminal record. Unfortunately most defendants are so traumatized by the criminal justice process that they end up giving up on any future hopes of redemption. They simply let the record lie as it is stated and resign themselves to a life on state benefits.

If you are not eligible to have your records expunged, what are your options? If you have multiple arrests and convictions, or if you have been convicted of certain Class 3 and Class 4 felonies, you are also not eligible for an expungement of your record. But all is not lost. There is another alternative to expungement of your criminal record, and that is “sealment.” Seek the advice of an expert criminal attorney to find out if you are eligible to have your criminal record sealed if an expungement is not available to you.

Sealing Criminal Records Under the Illinois Criminal Identification Act

Currently under the Illinois Criminal Identification Act, certain records of felonies can be sealed from public scrutiny. Unlike “expungement,” sealed records are not destroyed, they still exist but they are not available to the public. Law enforcement entities, such as the courts and police precincts will still have access to your sealed records. There is an attempt by the Illinois House to expand the Sealing Laws of Illinois. House Bill 5723, if passed, will expand the types of criminal records eligible to be sealed.

You have done the crime, you have done the time, and now you would like a fresh start. Your question is “Is it possible?” Is there any way to close that chapter of your life and have a fresh start without a criminal past dogging you? The answer is “Maybe.”

A more comprehensive response to this question depends upon whether or not this was a first time offense, whether the level of the criminal charge filed against you was for a felony or a misdemeanor, whether the case has been disposed of (i.e., conviction, acquittal, probation, etc.), and how long ago.

For the most part, expungement and sealing are available to clear the records for certain criminal offenses. Illinois has enacted legislation that is designed to expunge and seal criminal records for crimes committed within the state of Illinois and that fall under the state’s jurisdiction. However, expungement and sealing are not available for minor traffic violation cases such as speeding tickets.

If you have ever been arrested for committing a crime in any state, whether convicted or not, you have a criminal record. Despite what you have been told, adult criminal records and juvenile criminal records (also known as “rap sheets”) are never automatically cleared. If you incurred a “rap sheet” at any time in your life, perhaps when you were “sowing those wild oats,” but now you have settled down and have become an exemplary citizen, the previous record of your indiscretions is available for public scrutiny.

Can I Have My Criminal Record Expunged or Sealed?

The short answer is “yes,” you can have your criminal record expunged or sealed if your record is eligible. Your first step is to consult with an experienced criminal law expert who will walk you through the process.

file000704919536At any given time, thousands of Illinois residents are unable to secure a good job or any job at all, as a result of past mistakes. Even if you have paid your debt to society as a result of a criminal conviction, you may be one of the thousands of Illinois residents who has been relegated to live in poverty, even if you are trying to set your life on the right path. The good news is, three bills recently signed into law by Governor Rauner may address and ameliorate this issue. Read on to see if you may benefit from these new laws, which take effect the first day of 2016. If you think you might benefit, contact us today and let us help you explore your options.

HB 3475

Beginning January 1, 2016, House Bill 3475 expands the list of those eligible to receive a Certificate of Good Conduct and a Certificate of Relief from Disability. If you can show the court that you have turned your life around with clear and convincing evidence, then the court may issue either of these certificates. Such a certificate will go a long way to help you obtain a professional license or other employment, if the crime you were convicted of is one of the included new crimes that allows you to receive either of these certificates. The Law Offices of David Freidberg can help you determine if you may be eligible for one of these certificates.

HB 3149

Beginning January 1, 2016, men and women who have been convicted of certain offenses and who have completed college, have a vocational certificate, or have finished some other educational or vocational training program can request the courts and police department to limit the number of persons allowed to access their old criminal records. In other words, you can ask to have your record sealed much sooner than the law currently allows. The Law Offices of David Freidberg can help you determine if you are eligible to have your record sealed early.

SB 844

The third and final new bill signed into law by Governor Rauner is SB 844. For those who have older convictions, SB 844 allows you to request that the court limit who can look at your old records three years after you complete your sentence (the current law requires you wait four years). Depending on the crime you were convicted of, this new law may even allow your records to be sealed two years after your sentence is complete. Call David Freidberg today and find out if  you are eligible to benefit from SB 844.

These bills will breathe new opportunity into the lives of over 1 million Illinois residents whose potential was previously squandered for lack of second chances. Now, people who have made mistakes, served their sentence, and been rehabilitated can move beyond their pasts and into their futures. Continue reading

criminal recordMany people who have been convicted of a sex crime in Illinois wonder whether the offense can be expunged. There are limited circumstances in which this is possible, but it can occasionally be done. As each situation is different, it is important to consult an experienced attorney for guidance in getting your conviction expunged.

What is a Sex Offense in Illinois?

Under Illinois law, a sex offense is a crime that involves sexual misconduct. This includes assault, child pornography, statutory rape (even if the alleged perpetrator is under the age of consent at the time as well), and others. If you are convicted of a sex offense in Illinois, then you will be considered a sex offender by the state of Illinois, and you may even have to register as such for a minimum term of 10 years on the Sex Offenders Registry.

Chicago’s “Ban the Box” law, which prohibits certain employers from requesting criminal background information on job applications goes into effect January 1. However, this information can be requested – and must be provided – once the applicant is invited for an interview, or when a conditional offer of employment is made. Employers may also conduct criminal background checks at this time. The only way to completely avoid having to disclose your criminal history, or to keep it from turning up during a criminal background check, is to have the records expunged or sealed.


Getting a Chicago Misdemeanor Expunged

The “ban the box” law is an important tool that will help qualified applicants who happen to have arrests or convictions in their past proceed to the interview stage. Unfortunately, it does not go far enough to help those with a criminal background get a fresh start. Under the law employers are not prohibited from refusing to hire an applicant based on his criminal background – it simply prohibits them from asking on the job application. Employers are free to not hire someone with a criminal history once they learn about it, either because the applicant disclosed it during the interview stage or because it turned up during a criminal background check. And the general public harbors a great deal of prejudice against those with a criminal background, even though the individual paid his debt to society by fulfilling the terms of his sentence.

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