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.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

'I'VE BEEN STOPPED FOR SHOPLIFTING!": STORE SECURITY AND YOUR RIGHTS

You were browsing at a department store and had just left, when suddenly store security approaches you. They ask you to come with them. What are your rights?

If a merchant believes you have been shoplifting, they may detain you if they reasonably believe that you have unpaid merchandise. The detention can be made in order to 1) request your identification, 2) verify it’s authenticity; 3) reasonably ascertain whether you have stolen merchandise in your possession, and 4) surrender you to a peace officer. If you are a minor, the store must attempt to inform your guardian and surrender a minor to either the guardian or the police. (Authority: 720 ILCS 5/16A-5.)

According to the statute, the store is presumed to have reasonable cause to detain you if you possess a theft detection shielding device or a theft detection device remover.

Any detention must be for a reasonable length of time and conducted in a reasonable manner. And the store must have reasonable cause to stop you. Of course, what is considered reasonable is a matter of opinion. You probably cannot be chained to a desk or held for hours at a time. But whether an hour is too long may be open for debate.

The store may have a right to check your receipt or look in your bag, but you may still request an attorney and you can refuse to answer questions. In Illinois, some silent videotaping of premises, such as the dressing rooms, may be permitted for the limited purpose of preventing theft. Usually, there should be warnings that the dressing rooms are monitored.

If you are detained by store security, you should refrain from making a confession. Later, you may be taken into police custody and released on bond, or alternatively, brought to court the next day so that a judge may set bond.

No matter what the case, you should not discuss this matter with the police or anyone else. You may be able to win the case at court if you do not damage your chances by trying to explain yourself to the police or by making a statement.

If you have any questions about your situation, please do not hesitate to contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or 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.)

"I HOSTED AN UNDERAGE DRINKING PARTY!": YOUR RESPONSIBILITY AS A PARENT

You left your otherwise responsible 17-year-old son home for the weekend. While you were gone, your son and his friends held a party, taking advantage of your liquor cabinet. When your son’s friend drove away drunk from your home, he hit another car and now, under Illinois’s social hosting statute, you are charged with criminal penalties for providing the alcohol.

What is the law?
Under Illinois law, you may be guilty of a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $1000 fine, if you knowingly provide alcohol to someone under the age of 21 other than your own child. If serious injury or death occurs, you can be charged with a Class 4 felony punishable by up to 3 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. If injury or death occurs, you can also be civilly liable for having provided the alcohol.

You are considered to have knowingly authorized the use of alcohol if you fail to control access to the liquor cabinet in your residence. Therefore, under Illinois law, you could be at fault simply for leaving your liquor cabinet available while you were away.

What can you do? If you are charged with providing alcohol to minors, seek the advice of an attorney immediately. Do not give any statements to the police or anyone else. What you think is a reasonable explanation might be enough to convict you later. Refrain from discussing this matter in person or electronically via texts, email or any Facebook-type pages.

Because you may also be civilly liable for any injuries, it is critical that you vigorously defend any criminal charges. A guilty verdict in a criminal case can become a foregone conclusion in a civil matter, which has a lower burden of proof. An experienced attorney can help develop a strategy for your defense. Maybe you did not knowingly provide the alcohol. Maybe the alcohol did not come from your home, or your enterprising son picked the lock of your liquor cabinet. Under many village statutes and state law, there is also a limited exception for religious services.

Municipal Penalties. In addition to state penalties, many municipalities have their own penalties. For example, in Skokie, you may not allow an underage person who has drunk alcohol in your home to leave except in the care of their guardian. In Wilmette, you may allow your own child to drink in your home, but you may not allow that child to leave while still under the influence of alcohol. Furthermore, in Wilmette, you cannot allow someone else’s child to remain on your premises while possessing or drinking alcohol.

In Evanston, you may not knowingly permit a gathering of two or more minors to possess or drink alcohol. You cannot intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or negligently give or deliver alcohol to a minor or invite someone under age 18 to have alcohol on your premises. If you know there is a substantial probability that your child may drink, you must restrain him or her from driving or from committing other illegal acts, such as theft or vandalism.

The City of Park Ridge has taken the issue of underage drinking parties so seriously that police have formed a Parent Party Patrol to assist police with reports of underage drinking.

If you have any questions about your situation, please do not hesitate to contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or matt@mattkeenanlaw.com

See our related DUI blog at http://duilawyerskokie.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.)