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Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, ban the box law, Illinois recently joined four other states in passing legislation that forbids employers to ask about criminal offenses until after the person applying for a job is either selected for an interview or is hired. Despite the hope that this “Ban the Box” legislation will give some of the estimated 70 million adults in the United States who have a crime on their record a chance at a career, there are other concerns people have about their prior offenses. Many people are aware that there are processes in place in which a person may have a criminal history expunged, or erased from public databases.

Understanding Expungement

Expungement is not the same as a dismissal; it will not change the ultimate disposition of your case. Expungement is, however, an opportunity for you to remove your criminal past from public record and to help you move forward. According to the law, to expunge means “to physically destroy records or return them to the [person requesting the expungement] and to obliterate the [person’s name] from any official index or public record, or both.” Juvenile records may also be expunged in some circumstances once the juvenile is no longer a minor.


If you have ever been convicted of a crime, you know how it feels to have to "check the box" on each of your job applications. Not only do you have to disclose this information to complete strangers, but you have to worry about whether they will take your past criminal actions into consideration when ultimately making hiring decisions. Even if you have a clean record, you may have always wondered how checking this box would affect you, should it ever become an issue.

As of January 1, 2015, most employers will no longer be able to inquire about an applicant's criminal history until after the employer extends an offer to the candidate or if an initial determination had been made that the applicant is qualified for an interview. This law essentially will prevent employers from screening applicants based on their criminal histories, allowing qualified applicants a better opportunity to be selected for an interview and, in turn, employment.

Banning the Box on Job Applications

The proper name for "banning the box" is the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act. This Act, approved by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, is a long-awaited victory for those with criminal histories. Ban the Box legislation followed a long history of decisions from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which encouraged employers to hire the most qualified applicants, regardless of a possible criminal history. Regardless of whether employers were lawfully permitted to consider things such as an applicant's criminal history, applicants with criminal records always risked having this negative information come up thereby hurting their chances of consideration for the position.


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.


Posted on in Criminal Defense

drug paraphernalia IllinoisMany of us know of someone who has been convicted of some drug-related crime in their lifetime. Some of us may try to minimize the severity of the crime by suggesting that it was “just marijuana” or “just a little bit.” The truth of the matter is, it does not matter whether it is your first or fifth drug offense, whether it is marijuana or methamphetamine, or whether it is a bong or a needle. While each of these crimes vary in punishment under the eyes of the law, they each can have a significant impact on your future. Even if you are caught “just” possessing drug paraphernalia, without any drugs at all, you still may be subject to steep criminal penalties.

What is Drug Paraphernalia?

Drug paraphernalia, according to Illinois law, is all equipment, products and materials that are intended to be unlawfully utilized to plant, cultivate, prepare, inject, ingest, inhale, or use any synthetic drug or controlled substance. The full definition of drug paraphernalia is part of the Illinois Drug Paraphernalia Control Act. The drug methamphetamine has an entirely separate section and associated punishments under the act.


juvenile sentencingMaking bad decisions as a child can have real, life altering, adult consequences. There are nearly 3,000 incarcerated persons serving life sentences without the possibility of parole for crimes they committed as youth. When we hear “life without parole,” this means that no matter how good the behavior of the incarcerated person, and regardless of whether he or she becomes rehabilitated or educated, that person will stay in prison for the duration of his or her life without exception.

This controversial practice was addressed by the United States Supreme Court in 2012, in a landmark case titled Miller v. Alabama. This case held that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole are unconstitutional. Read that carefully: the court decision does not mean that juveniles cannot be given a life sentence without the possibility of parole. It simply means that this cannot be a mandatory sentence, i.e., the court must consider the unique characteristics of the offender and any special circumstances before handing out such a sentence.

Juvenile Criminals in Illinois


juvenile crime expungement in illinoisAn expungement is the process of sealing criminal and arrest records to make them unavailable to the public. The Illinois legislature has enacted more forgiving laws concerning the expungement of one’s juvenile record as opposed to the expungement of one’s adult criminal record. In June 2014, Illinois governor Pat Quinn signed a law enabling adults to expunge a wider list of criminal activity and criminal charges that they incurred before they reached the age of 18. The purpose of the legislation is to prevent adults interested in living a law-abiding life from being haunted by the legal mistakes they made as juveniles.

Illinois Juvenile Record Expungement Law

Illinois law allows for expungement if the following circumstances are present:


illinois expungement attorneyIf you are an Illinois resident over age 18, any criminal trouble that you faced could follow you indefinitely. If you have been convicted or even if you have been arrested and the charges have been dropped, it may be possible for friends, family or even past and current employers to learn about this information.

Evidence of prior criminal convictions can affect your social reputation and the way current and future employers and social contacts may view you. Specifically in Illinois, some criminal misdemeanor or felony charges can lead you to become illegible to perform certain jobs, hold a liquor or lottery ticket license for your business or even operate a motor vehicle. These are just a few examples. The list of prohibitions that result from past criminal convictions, even minor ones, is extensive.

So what can a past criminal offender do to reclaim his reputation?


drug charges financial aid student loansAccording to the United States Department of Education, there are several situations in which a student may lose financial aid eligibility based on a prior drug conviction.

Requirements for Renewing Financial Aid Eligibility

The U.S. Department of Education determines a student’s financial eligibility each year through use of the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Every year the student must complete an updated FAFSA form in order to remain eligible for financial aid. The U.S. Department of Education can determine whether a student was convicted of a drug-related offense in the last year by reviewing the FAFSA form, as one portion of the FAFSA form requires applicants to indicate whether they have been convicted of a drug-related offense. If the student answers affirmatively, he or she is then required to complete a supplemental worksheet concerning the nature of the offense for which she was convicted.


expungement, criminal record, sealing your record, criminal history, Naperville criminal defense lawyerThere are several different types of misdemeanor crimes in Illinois. From the possession of small amounts of drugs to disorderly conduct, and many other crimes, local residents are routinely charged and convicted of misdemeanors. While not as serious as felony offenses, misdemeanors still come with big fines and the possibility of spending up to a year in jail.

Unfortunately, a criminal record of any kind--including those with misdemeanor charges--will have a lasting impact on one’s life. Even if the charges against you were dismissed, an arrest record remains and is public information,  impacting  your reputation years down the road.

Fortunately, there are legal tools available to wipe the slate clean or at least ensure information about past transgressions is out of the public eye. In certain situations, Illinois law allows residents to expunge or seal their criminal records.


misdemeanor IMAGEIn Illinois, misdemeanors, like felonies, come in several classifications, depending on the type of crime committed. If you have committed several violations of the law, you may be charged with multiple misdemeanors. Regardless of the charges, you should seek experienced legal counsel capable of addressing the criminal charge or charges.

Misdemeanor Classifications

In order of most to least severe, the misdemeanor classifications in Illinois are: Class A, Class B, and Class C. Information relating to Class C misdemeanors can be found at 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-65, but generally the sentence for this charge is not more than 30 days. The resulting fines are up to $1500 for each offense, or the amount specified for the offense, depending on the larger amount. Class B misdemeanors are addressed at 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-60, and the sentence that a conviction carries is not more than six months. The resulting fine will not be greater than $1500 for each offense, or the amount specified for the offense, also depending on whichever is greater. Class A misdemeanors are the most severe. The provisions for Class A misdemeanors can be found at 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-55. The sentence of imprisonment will be less than one year. The fines are up to $2500 for each offense or the amount specified for the offense, whichever is greater.

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