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Posted on in Criminal Defense

pardons in Illinois, Elgin criminal defense attorneyConvictions for criminal offenses can follow a person for the rest of his or her life. A youthful mistake can make it difficult to find a place to live or get hired for a job. Fortunately, the law provides a variety of options for people looking to have their criminal records wiped away.

Some of these remedies, like sealing or expungement, do not completely eliminate the record, or only work for certain crimes. For people who do not qualify for those remedies, there is still one option remaining, the governor's pardon. Pardons, also referred to as executive clemency, are a broader option available for all crimes, however, decisions are made on a case by case basis, so having a strong pardon application is important.

The Benefits of Pardons

Pardons are a power the Governor has to forgive any and all crimes. This sort of forgiveness can come with a wide array of different benefits. For instance, the Governor can restore all the rights and privileges that a person loses when he or she is convicted of a felony. These include the right to hold certain jobs, and the right to legally own a firearm, along with some others. The Governor may also choose to make the crimes available to be sealed or expunged. The exact effect of that decision depends on which he chooses to use. A sealed record is unavailable to most employers, but is still available to law enforcement or if the judge orders it unsealed. Conversely, an expunged record is actually destroyed, so it is the preferable option.

The Pardon Process

The pardon process can be long and difficult, but worthwhile in the end. The first step is filing a petition for executive clemency with the Illinois Prisoner Review Board. The petition is a typewritten narrative that details things like the offenses that the person is seeking a pardon for, the circumstances surrounding those offenses, the reasons the person is seeking clemency, and a biographical history. This petition must also include supporting materials, which comprise one of the most important parts of the document. These materials are extra paperwork that support the claims made in the petition. These can be documents like diplomas to demonstrate educational progress, or they can also be supporting statements made by other people.

Once the petition is submitted, the next step is a hearing in front of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board. The hearing allows the petitioner and anyone who opposes the pardon to give informal testimony to the prisoner review board. After the testimony, the Board makes a confidential recommendation to the Governor's office, which then makes the final decision.

Pardons can be a life-changing experience for those who ultimately qualify for them. If you believe you may qualify for a pardon, contact a Kane County criminal defense attorney today to learn more about the process.
Last modified on

Posted on in Criminal Defense

certificate of good conduct, Kane County criminal attorneyMany people with criminal records have trouble finding good jobs because the record makes them less attractive to potential employers. Some people can solve this problem using remedies like getting their records expunged or having them sealed. However, not everyone qualifies for those processes either because their record includes convictions or because their crimes were too serious. In these cases, Illinois law provides another option, the Certificate of Good Conduct.

What Certificates of Good Conduct Do

Unlike expungement or record sealing, which prevents many employers from seeing the criminal record, the Certificate of Good Conduct leaves the record publicly available. However, it provides an official finding by the court that the offender has been reformed, which can often make employers more willing to hire people with criminal records. Beyond that, the Certificate helps with employment in other ways. For instance, there are certain jobs that Illinois law forbids people with criminal records to hold. These Certificates allow the court to override those laws, so that the person can take the job despite their record. Additionally, the Certificate makes it harder for employers to be sued based on the actions of the employee, which can put many businesses at ease.

Who Qualifies

A person must meet a variety of qualifications in order to receive a Certificate. First, a certain amount of time must have passed after their convictions. For misdemeanors, the person must wait at least a year after the end of his or her probation or parole, and the waiting period for felonies is at least two years. Second, the person must be an eligible offender under the law. This means that he or she cannot have a variety of types of convictions. These convictions include:

  • Class X felonies, which are the most serious crimes like murder;
  • Any felony convictions involving great bodily harm to a person; and
  • Any convictions that require a person to register after their release.

Finally, the person must demonstrate that he or she been rehabilitated. This requirement is not as concrete as the other ones, and it tends to depend on the types of crimes on the record. For instance, with drug crimes, the courts will want to see that the person has stopped using drugs, and for gang-related crimes, the judge may look for whether the offender has cut ties with the people whom he or she knew in the gang. Often the best way to show these sorts of reformation is through a combination of letters of support from people who know the offender, as well as testimony by those people during the hearing for the Certificate

If you believe you qualify for a Certificate of Good Conduct and are interested in learning more about the process, reach out to an experienced Kane County criminal law attorney today.

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