Chicago Wrongly Places Felonies on the Records of Those in Diversion Programs

The City of Chicago has been wrongly placing felonies on the records of those in diversion programs. Having a felony on your record can make it difficult to find housing or apply for a job. In one case, a man who was identified as Malcolm in an article published by the Chicago Sun-Times lost his job because his employer found out about a felony on his record. However, he had only been arrested for a low-level crime and pleaded it down as part of a diversion program. 

In many cases, these were people who were promised a clean record if they successfully completed a diversion program. Malcolm had a good job and was proud that he was able to provide for his children. He was offered a diversion program as part of a felony case and promised that he would have a clean record if he completed the diversion program. Instead, the felony popped up on his record and cost him his job. He was shocked. As it turns out, Cook County had wrongly been placing felonies on the records of those who completed diversion programs over the past three years. 

Malcolm became homeless as a result of losing his job. He began sleeping in doorways after he could no longer pay his rent. 

The Second-Chance Program

The second-chance program is an opportunity for those with non-violent offenses to acquire the skills they need to become gainfully employed, keep a low-level felony off of their record, and rebuild their lives in a positive direction. In Malcolm’s case, he went on probation, was required to do 80 hours of community service, submit to monthly drug tests, and maintain full-time employment. Defendants who qualify under the second chance program are often required to undergo counseling as well, submit a letter of apology to the victim, and pay restitution. The program is designed to help those who are serious about rehabilitation. However, Cook County has been erroneously placing felonies on the record of those who successfully completed the program. 

Defense lawyers have raised the alarm and have been trying to fix the problem since September 2022. Now, a year later, felonies are still popping up on the records of those who successfully completed the diversion program. But there is currently confusion over who is responsible for the mix-up and who is responsible for fixing it. 

The clerk’s office initially took the blame for the problem but then pointed the finger at a judge. Both have stated that they will fix the problem, but neither have corrected Malcolm’s record. Today, the felony conviction remains on his record, and he has no idea how to get it off. The information indicating felony records is still available to those performing criminal background checks. So, even with this resolution and fix in the works, the information may still be out there.

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you have been charged with a serious crime, call Chicago criminal defense attorney David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 to schedule an appointment. We can help you defend yourself from the charges and avoid bureaucratic mistakes that ruin your life. 

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