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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
630-472-9700Available 24/7

Oak Brook Criminal Lawyers Serve as Advocates for New Illinois Sealing Law

Posted on in Embezzlement

Illinois Criminal Expungement and Sealing

At Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C., we have helped many people remove arrests from their criminal record through expungement and sealing petitions. These petitions help people move on with their lives after they have made amends for their mistakes. However, we realized over the course of time that there are some problems with the statute that governs these petitions. Not satisfied to just excuse the injustice that a "loophole" in the law causes regular people, we have taken action by asking the Illinois legislators to close this "loophole".

Ordinance Violations are tickets or charges that are brought against an individual pursuant to local city or village laws. Unlike state laws, city or village laws do not provide for jail time as a punishment. Additionally, any fines collected by the courts from violators are paid to the local city and villages, which eases their budget constraints. Often times, it is up to the arresting officer as to how to charge the person suspected of a crime. Whether a crime is charged under state statutes or local city and village ordinances is often an arbitrary decision. Current statutes do not allow the expungement of Class C misdemeanors, when they have been prosecuted as Ordinance Violations. This results in the perverse effect of denying expungements to those persons who have been found guilty of the most minor of crimes, while those who have committed far more serious offenses may obtain the relief of having their arrest records removed from the public eye through the expungement and sealing process.

Illinois Criminal Offense Background

Criminal offenses are generally of three types: petty offenses, misdemeanors, and felonies. Petty offenses cannot result in jail sentences or fines that exceed $1,000. Misdemeanors are further broken down into lettered classes, A, B, or C, decreasing in seriousness from A to C. Whereas Class A misdemeanors carry the full range of misdemeanor penalties, Class C misdemeanors are limited to at most 30 days in jail and up to $1,500 in fines. Additionally, many municipalities choose to prosecute their own misdemeanors under their local municipal code or village ordinances.

Current State of Illinois Law

Class C misdemeanors prosecuted under State laws may be cleared from a criminal record by the expungement petition process that the attorneys at Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. frequently use. This process allows those who have made mistakes to move on with their lives. Expungements are a thorough cleansing of the criminal record that prevents certain law enforcement agencies and the general public from obtaining arrest and sentencing records. However, Class C misdemeanors, if prosecuted as Ordinance Violations, they were previously barred by Illinois law from expungement or sealing. There were no exceptions.

Our clients have indicated that these minor charges, such as marijuana possession, have a negative impact on hiring decisions and licensing qualifications no matter how old the arrest is. The competitive nature of a tight job market makes this a scary prospect for some people. We can all agree that if those persons who commit more serious crimes, like that of the possession of heroin or cocaine, along with those persons who commit violent crimes, like battery and assault, may have their crimes removed from their record, those who possess the smallest amount of cannabis or commit the least serious of crimes should be able to clear their records, as well. But, they couldn&t until now.

Proposed Legislative Amendment

Because of this seemingly unfair provision regarding expungements, attorneys from Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. met with State Representative Jeanne Ives of Wheaton, Illinois. Taking note of the problem and agreeing with our concerns, she responded by sponsoring legislation to fix the problem and help her constituents clear their records. On March 26, 2014, attorneys Tina Gagliano Mandell and Christopher Hage traveled to Springfield where they delivered expert testimony in support of House Bill 5815, the legislation sponsored by Representative Ives. The Judiciary Committee agreed with our concerns and House Bill 5815 passed out of the Judiciary Committee with unanimous approval.

In June, 2014 Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed Rep. Ives's bill allowing us to begin filing expungement and sealing petitions in 2015 for those unfortunate people who suffer the long-term negative consequences because of an infraction of an ordinance violation.

Illinois Felony Expungement Attorney

The experienced Oak Brook criminal lawyers at Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. believe that any record that is eligible for expungement, or at least sealing, should be. Our knowledgeable Illinois criminal attorneys consider your options to have your record expunged or sealed from the moment we are retained to represent you on any criminal charge, especially felonies. Our main goal is to position you to have your record erased at the earliest point of eligibility. Call 630-472-9700 or fill out the online contact form for a free initial consultation.

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