Articles Posted in Sealing

Just this past Thursday, August 24, 2017 Governor Rauner signed Illinois House Bill 2373, which expands the current Illinois Criminal Identification Act to allow for virtually ALL felonies to be eligible for sealing relief! Effective immediately, any felony conviction, except for those currently found listed at 20 ILCS 2630/5.2 (a)(3)(A) (i.e., domestic battery and/or violation of an order of protection, Class A and above offenses listed under the Humane Care for Animals Act, driving under the influence and reckless driving (with the youthful offender exception) and sex crimes under Article 11 of the Criminal Code of 2012)  will now be eligible for sealing relief through the court system!  The three (3) year waiting period (as determined from the end of the last criminal sentence on a person’s record) remains in effect, though on convictions that require a person to register on the Murder and Violence Offense Against Youth Registry, that person cannot apply for sealing relief until he or she is no longer required to remain on the registry.

Many individuals who have been told by me, or other attorneys, that they are simply and unfortunately ineligible to petition for sealing relief can now revist the issue to see if this barrier has effectively been removed…I dare say in many, if not most cases, the answer to that question will be “yes”. Keep in mind sealing is not as comprehensive of relief as expungement is, but this is absolutely a huge positive step in the right direction by our legislature and it will undoubtedly help many in need of finding jobs, housing, etc. Please do not hesitate to reach out should you have questions about whether or not this monumental expansion pertains to your own situation.

The Westside Baptist Ministers Conference, Workship Coalition, Inc., and The Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County are hosting an expungement summit on Saturday, January 21, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 325 S. California Ave., Chicago, IL 60612.  Volunteer attorneys will assist registered attendees with filing applications for expungements and sealings; pre-registration is required and you can call 872-395-3551 to sign up. Seating is limited. Registered attendees must bring RAP sheets and certified case dispositions with them to the summit.

I hope to see you there!

Happy New Year everyone! I have some very exciting changes to the Illinois Criminal Identification Act (ICIA) to discuss here, with regard to both expungement and sealing.  Regarding expungement, pursuant to Public Act 099-0881 and the newly revised 20 ILCS 2630/5.2(b)(1) et seq., a person who has one or more non-expungeable criminal offenses on his or her record may now petition the circuit court to expunge other expungeable records, including arrests or charges not initiated by arrest that resulted in acquittal, dismissal or petitioner’s release without charging (subject to exclusions), a reversed or vacated conviction (subject to exclusions), an order of supervision where that supervision was successfully completed by petitioner (subject to exclusions), or an order of qualified probation (as defined by the ICIA) where that qualified probation was successfully completed by petitioner. The bottom line with regard to this substantive change in law is that a person wanting to petition the circuit court for expungement may now do so in certain cases even if he or she has previously been convicted of a criminal offense! There is no more “all or nothing” analysis – i.e., where previously if a petitioner had even a single conviction on his or her criminal record that petitioner would not be eligible to petition for expungement on any Illinois case!

Additionally, the ICIA now provides, pursuant to Public Act 099-0881 and the newly revised 20 ILCS 2630/5.2(d)(1.5), that in Cook County a petitioner may file his or her petition to expunge or seal with the circuit court free of charge where the records to be expunged or sealed were arrests resulting in release without charging or arrests or charges not initiated by arrest resulting in acquittal, dismissal or a conviction that was subsequently reversed or vacated (subject to exclusions) during the 2017 calendar year.  In other words, the legislature is now allowing for no-fee filing in Cook County on a petition to expunge or seal in certain circumstances!

As always, the ICIA is complicated to navigate alone, as even experienced legal practitioners sometimes have questions about the meaning of certain provisions contained therein (there is very little case law on point that may be used for guidance).  Though a petition to expunge or seal may be prepared and filed pro se, as always, it truly is in your best interest to contact an attorney who focuses his or her practice on this area of law so as to give yourself the best chance at success in court.  I am always happy to give prospective clients free consultations on this subject as well as several others, including post-conviction proceedings and general criminal and traffic defense.

Please join me at this year’s Expungement Summit, sponsored by the Honorable Dorothy Brown, Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County and the Southland Regional Mayoral Black Caucus and Thornton Township High School District 205, on June 4, 2016, for an all-day event where you can consult with on-site pro-bono attorneys to discuss your criminal record. Attorneys will be assisting people in preparing both Cook and non-Cook County expungement and sealing petitions (Cook County petitions can be filed on-site that day, with or without a fee waiver, if one is granted) and advising individuals about what other legal remedies are available if one is not eligible for either expungement or sealing. People will also be able to get on-site drug tests, which may be needed for certain petitions, and members of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board will be present to discuss the executive clemency/pardon process in Illinois.

The event will take place at Thornton Township High School located at 15001 Broadway Avenue in Harvey, Illinois; registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and doors will close at 6:00 p.m. More information about the Summit can be found here.

I will be supervising the non-Cook County expungement and sealing area at the Summit and I look forward to seeing you there!

The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice has approved new statewide forms for expunging and sealing records in Illinois. This will greatly streamline and simplify the expunging and sealing process as there will no longer be different forms from county to county that pro se petitioners and attorneys alike must familiarize themselves with. Moreover, the new forms deal with a wide range of possible scenarios a petitioner is confronted with, including when/if he or she is receiving an expungement post gubernatorial pardon: pursuant to 20 ILCS 2630/5.2(e), “Whenever a person who has been convicted of an offense is granted a pardon by the Governor which specifically authorizes expungement, he or she may, upon verified petition to the Chief Judge…have a court order entered expunging the record of arrest from the official records of the arresting authority and order that the records of the circuit court clerk and the Department be sealed until further order of the court…” (emphasis added). While this is patently unfair, in my professional opinion, and a person who has been granted a pardon with authorization to expunge should receive the full benefit of the expungement (i.e., not sealing), this is how the statute is currently worded. In the past, an entirely separate form dealing with this particular type of petitioner was necessary. The new forms, specifically the Order to Expunge and Impound, account for this scenario along with many others.

Once again, I will be volunteering my day at the annual Adult & Juvenile Expungement Summit and Ex-Offender Job Information Seminar and would love to see you there! This year’s event will be held on June 6, 2015 at the Living Word Christian Center, 7600 West Roosevelt Road in Forest Park and opens at 8:30 a.m. Although the event runs through 6 p.m., I do suggest getting there as early as possible. Attorney volunteers, like myself, will be providing information on adult felony and misdemeanor expungements and sealings, juvenile record expungement, as well as information on executive clemency and certificates of relief from disabilities and good conduct. On-site drug testing will be available and you will be able to obtain certified case dispositions at the event as well. Qualified applicants will be able to file expungement and/or sealing petitions for free on-site at the Summit. For more details about the event, please call 312-603-5200 or 312-603-4641. You may also see the official Expungement Summit Guide here.

Please join the Honorable Dorothy Brown, Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, and me at this year’s Expungement Summit on June 7, 2014, from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at The Living Word Christian Center, 7600 West Roosevelt Road, Forest Park, IL. This is a full-service annual event where people with criminal records are able to speak with on-site volunteer attorneys about expungements, sealings, petitions for executive clemency and certificates of rehabilitation. There will also be on-site child support services, job training, housing and community resources, identity theft information and much more. Members of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board will also be present to discuss the pardon process for those who do not qualify for either expungement or sealing. This event is truly a wealth of information! Please contact the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County at 312-603-5200 for more information, or you may visit www.cookcountyclerkofcourt.org. I look forward to meeting you at this year’s Summit!

As the newly revised Illinois Criminal Identification Act presently reads, a person convicted of felony Class 3 possession of cannabis with intent to manufacture or deliver must petition the Illinois Prisoner Review Board for a certificate of eligibility to seal before preparing the standard Petition to Seal in the court of conviction, whereas an individual convicted of felony Class 3 possession of controlled substance (i.e., anything other than marijuana) with intent to manufacture or deliver can directly petition the court for his or her conviction to be sealed. Both of these offenses were previously not eligible for sealing relief until Public Act 098-0142 changed that, along with expanding other convictions eligible for sealing, as discussed in a previous blog entry.

I came across this illogical discrepancy while researching for a new client; I must have re-read the statutes, proposed legislation and legislative history four or five times before I realized that indeed, this is how the new law reads. I consulted with various colleagues who are extremely learned in this area of the law and sure enough, the effect of the language within the statute is to make the sealing process more difficult for someone with a possession of cannabis conviction with intent to manufacture or deliver than someone with a possession of heroin, ecstasy or cocaine, for example, conviction with intent to manufacture or deliver.

Before I became too disheartened with our state’s laws on this subject, I discovered that the legislature is already in the process of amending the newest version of the Illinois Criminal Identification Act to rectify this nonsensical result. Senator Kwame Raoul introduced Illinois Senate Bill 2941 on February 4, 2014 to amend the current law on sealing to allow for Class 3 convictions for possession with intent to manufacture or deliver cannabis to be addressed directly at the court level through a Petition to Seal, without the need of first obtaining a certificate of eligibility from our state’s Prisoner Review Board. I am hopeful this proposed legislation passes easily and quickly and soon becomes law in Illinois. The expungement and sealing laws, in my opinion, are already overly complicated and having a hair-splitting substantive distinction between possession with intent to manufacture or deliver of one type of drug versus another simply makes no sense at all. For now, however, if you do have a conviction for possession of cannabis with intent to manufacture or deliver you will need to petition the Illinois Prisoner Review Board for the above-referenced certificate of eligibility to seal before proceeding with your Petition to Seal that conviction. I strongly urge you to contact an attorney experienced in the field of criminal records laws to discuss the particulars of your situation.

Great news for individuals burdened by felony criminal records: the Illinois Criminal Identification Act (20 ILCS 2630/5.2 et seq.) has recently been amended by Public Act 098-0142 which adds multiple Class 3 and Class 4 offenses not previously eligible for relief by sealing to now be eligible for sealing through the court system! Prior to this change, only three (3) felonies (all Class 4) were eligible for relief through sealing: possession of a controlled substance (PCS), possession of cannabis (marijuana) and prostitution. Now, in its expanded form, the Illinois Criminal Identification Act allows for the following offenses to be eligible for sealing:

• Class 4 felony convictions for prostitution, possession of cannabis (marijuana), possession of a controlled substance, theft, retail theft, deceptive practices, forgery and possession of burglary tools; and

• Class 3 felony convictions for theft, retail theft, deceptive practices, forgery and possession with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance.

It’s time for the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County’s annual Expungement Summit! The event will take place on June 2nd, 2012, once again at the Apostolic Church of God located at 6230 South Dorchester Avenue, Chicago, Illinois between 8:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Please join me there and remember to bring your Chicago RAP sheet (assuming you were arrested in Chicago), which can be ordered from the Chicago Police Department, Access and Review Department, at 3510 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m., for $16.00. Further instructions and information can be found on the official event flyer posted on the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court’s website.

I look forward to meeting you!