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After being charged with a crime, it is important to understand the potential long-term ramifications. Outside of possible jail time, significant fines or loss of driving privileges, a misdemeanor or felony conviction can impact many aspects of your life. Many individuals with a criminal charge on their record face difficulty finding employment, securing housing, and receiving financial loans. 

Some criminal charges are eligible for expungement or a record seal, which remedy many potential complications in life. The expungement process can be complex and difficult, however, and requires the guidance of a skilled criminal defense lawyer. 

Understanding the Expungement Process 

An expungement is a court-ordered process that allows the legal record of an arrest to be erased from a person’s criminal record. Eligibility for expungement depends on the type and severity of the crime. Here in Illinois, expungement is possible in a large number of cases. If you were arrested for a misdemeanor or felony, but never convicted, you will likely be able to have the charges expunged. In other cases, you can file for expungement after completing a mandated suspension, or in the instance of a conviction reversal or dropped charges. 

If expungement is not possible, you may be able to pursue a criminal record seal. While this will not result in a complete erasure of the offense, it will ensure your record can only be viewed by law enforcement or through the court. A record seal ensures any potential employers or property managers will be unable to access the record. A criminal record seal is possible with most minor traffic offenses and felony traffic offenses that are reduced to misdemeanors. In the vast majority of cases, a felony or misdemeanor conviction can be sealed three years after completion of the sentence. 

Contact an Elgin, IL Expungement Lawyer 

If want to protect your future through expungement, the first step is to hire an adept attorney. With years of experience within the state of Illinois, Attorney Brian J. Mirandola will fight to secure your expungement eligibility. His diligent care and aggressive representation can make the difference in attaining full expungement or a criminal record seal. To schedule a free consultation with a Kane County criminal defense lawyer, contact us today at 847-488-0889. 

Sources:

https://www2.illinois.gov/osad/Expungement/Documents/Adult%20Exp/ExpungementSealing_Instructions_Approved.pdf

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expungement, Kane County criminal defense lawyerResearch requested by Illinois lawmakers has produced very concerning information regarding the way in which the state handles juvenile criminal records and expungements. The report went so far as to suggest that the laws regarding such matters in the state are "among the worst in the nation." Current regulations and bureaucratic red tape, the authors of the report indicate, tend to trap young offenders in a vicious cycle, often struggling with issues such as education, employment, and housing.

Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission

In a 2014 joint resolution, the Illinois General Assembly called for a review of the state’s juvenile justice system and the process of expungement by the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission. The Commission exists primarily to provide independent research and recommendations to the governor and state lawmakers on matters related to juvenile crime, punishment, and rehabilitation. At the request of the legislature, the Commission reviewed records related to more than 1.8 million juvenile arrests between 2004 and 2014 in Illinois.

Disturbingly Low Expungement Rates

The purpose of a separate juvenile justice system is to address illegal activities of a young offender without necessarily impacting the rest of his or her life. In principle, that is why it is technically possible under Illinois law to have a juvenile record expunged, or erased. The process, however, does not seem to be working, as the commission found that in the ten-year period under review, there were just over 5,300 expungements were processed, or only about three expungements for every 1,000 arrests. Fully half of the state’s 102 counties did not report a single juvenile expungement between 2004 and 2014.

Contributing Factors

The Commission’s report highlighted a number of reasons why expungements seem to be so rare, most of them related to very restrictive laws. A person cannot apply for an expungement until he or she turns 18—21 for some offenses—and an offense is not eligible to be expunged until five years have passed since the last court proceeding. However, a conviction on any charges after age 18 disqualifies the person from having his or her juvenile record expunged. In addition, the related expenses can also be prohibitive, as expunging a single arrest can cost up to $320 in processing fees.

As a result, the Commission has recommended that lawmakers take a new look at the existing juvenile expungement laws. Efforts are already underway to allow a person under 18 to begin the process. The Commission would also like to see an expansion of automatic expungement policies and the reduction or elimination of some of the costs involved, allowing for more young people to get a fresh start.

Expungement Help

If you would like to learn more about clearing a juvenile record for yourself or a family member, contact an experienced Elgin expungement lawyer. At The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola, we know that the laws that govern the expungement process in Illinois can be very complex, but we can assist you in getting the new beginning you deserve. Call 847-488-0889 today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

Sources:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-juvenile-records-expunged-0429-biz-20160428-story.html

http://www.qconline.com/news/illinois/report-laws-holding-back-juveniles-with-criminal-records/article_a4337f76-0d79-11e6-ae95-1ba5bd26ae0c.html

http://ijjc.illinois.gov/

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Posted on in Expungement

criminal history, background, Elgin expungement attorneyIf you have ever been arrested, regardless of the outcome, details of the arrest are probably still on your criminal record. Even if your criminal history can be summarized by "college kids doing stupid college stuff" and you were never convicted, prospective employers and other entities may find the records during a routine background check, potentially causing you problems that you never saw coming. Fortunately, there is an option available to many individuals that can help provide a fresh start, allowing them to put the past behind them once and for all.

Get a Copy of Your Rap Sheet

Many believe that the term rap sheet originated as an acronym for a Record of Arrest and Prosecution sheet. It seems, however, that the reverse is actually true, and that the phrase developed from street slang, and convenient acronym was, in a manner of speaking, retrofitted. Whatever the origin, it is important to be aware of every item on your criminal history. To do so, you will need to request a copy of all applicable rap sheets, including from local, state, and federal agencies, depending on your circumstances.

While you should certainly consult with your attorney in the process, you will be required to appear on your own behalf to receive a copy of your rap sheet from local police departments. If you have ever appeared in court or entered a plea in any case, it is also important to get a copy of all dispositions. You should also contact the Illinois State Police to review your records from across the state.

Review Your Record Carefully

Once you have obtained a copy of all of your available arrest records, go over them in fine detail to ensure they are completely accurate. Be sure that all of the included details actually represent what took place and when. If your record contains entries that you know or strongly to believe to be inaccurate, notify your attorney immediately to learn more about your options in getting them removed.

Expungement or Record Sealing

If your criminal history contains arrests and no convictions, including guilty pleas, you are probably eligible to have your record expunged. Expungement may also be available for certain misdemeanor convictions, but the exceptions are very limited. When your records are expunged, they are completely removed from your background and any paper files are physically destroyed by court order. Employers and others conducting background checks will no longer be able to find any trace of expunged arrests.

For those who do not qualify for expungement, record sealing may be an option. Those who have been previously convicted of crimes may be able to have their criminal records sealed. While not as thorough as expungement, record sealing makes the details of your arrests and convictions available only to law enforcement and other related agencies. Employers and private individuals will not be able to see the contents of your record.

To learn more about expungement and record sealing in Illinois, contact an Elgin criminal defense attorney today. At the The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola, we have helped many clients create a more promising future for themselves, despite the existence of a criminal history. Call 847-488-0889 to schedule a free consultation at one of our two convenient office locations. We look forward to serving you.

Sources:

http://www.illinoislegalaid.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.dsp_content&contentID=4926

http://www.saferfoundation.org/files/documents/HowtoObtainConvictionRecord.pdf

http://www.illinois.gov/osad/expungement/documents/crinminal%20exp%20guide/expungementsealingoverview.pdf

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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.
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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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