Tuesday, June 29, 2010

'I CAN'T GET A JOB!": CLEARING YOUR CRIMINAL RECORD - PARDONS & EXPUNGEMENTS

(Updated 2/20/13)

In today’s tough job market, you are at greater risk of losing out on that job opportunity you wanted because of an undesirable criminal record. But there may still be hope.

If you were charged with a crime and your case was dismissed, you may be able to expunge your record immediately. Even if you were charged with a misdemeanor and received supervision, you may still be able to expunge your record after a certain period. Most eligible criminal charges have a waiting period of two years. However, retail thefts prior to 1/1/12 must wait 5 years. (Newer law shortened that period to two years for retail thefts after 1/1/12.) You may not qualify to expunge your record if your crime falls into certain categories, such as violent crime or criminal sexual conduct.

To petition for an expungement, you must file at the Circuit Court in the county where your case was heard and pay a fee (currently $120.00). In Chicago, you should obtain a copy of your criminal history from the Chicago Police Department. The Court will notify the State’s attorney’s office, the Illinois State Police and the arresting police department of your Petition. If any of those agencies object to your Petition within 60 days, you may be given a court appearance to defend your request. As of 2013, the Cook County Circuit Court is now automatically setting hearings for Chicago cases.

If your record is successfully expunged, then you need not reveal your criminal history to anyone. You can then answer “no” when that criminal history question crops up on a job application.

But what if instead of supervision, you were convicted or you had a felony? In some cases, you might still be able to seal your conviction, and still answer that awkward employer question with a “no.” When all else fails, you might qualify for a pardon.

In Illinois, you can appeal to the Governor and the Prison Review Board for executive clemency. Your petition must state a brief history of your case and present the reasons you believe you merit a pardon. You may request a hearing to further present your case when filing the petition. An experienced attorney can assist greatly in preparing your petition and presenting your case in the very best light. A reason for clemency, that might seem convincing to you, might seem insufficient or even self-serving to the Governor and the Prison Review Board.

See our related post on Pardons at Pardon Me: Clemency Petitioners Now Have A Chance.

If you have questions or would like an attorney’s assistance in preparing an expungement or pardon, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves clients in the communities of Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Palatine, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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