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

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.


In June 2014, Illinois governor Pat Quinn signed a measure into law that prevents police departments at local, county and state levels from requiring officers to meet ticket quotas as a condition of maintaining their current jobs or as a factor for assigning promotions. Officers are no longer required to issue a certain number of driving citations over each period for designated minor traffic offenses. According to a press release from the governor's office, the Illinois ticket quota ban goes into effect January 1, 2015.

Purpose of the Illinois Ticket Quota Ban

The objective of this new initiative is to promote officer efficiency where it matters and to increase morale towards police officers in Illinois communities. Some proponents of the new law contend that residents from communities whose police departments require their officers to meet ticket quotas are more likely to distrust their police officers and see them as antagonistic force. Further mandating ticket quotas may enhance un-egalitarian enforcement of the law. When an officer feels pressured to make certain ticket numbers and she is nearing a deadline, the officer may be more likely to ticket motorists for minor offenses unlikely to cause danger or harm that are normally overlooked. At their worst, ticket quotas could even coerce desperate officers to ticket vulnerable individuals who appear to have fewer resources available to them to be able to contest a suspect driving ticket. On this view, banning ticket quotas will reduce friction between police officers and the communities they serve.

Additionally, dissatisfied residents may also view police departments in a negative light for disproportionately focusing on legal issues that are comparatively less significant. Residents and some policy makers feel that police officer time and attention would be better spent investigating the types of criminal activities that are more directly harmful towards Illinois residents, such as violent crimes, larceny, or white collar crimes such as embezzlement, in which community members may be robbed from within by their own employees. Banning ticket quotas could free up officer time to focus on issues more closely tied to resident safety. A statement released by Governor Quinn's office provided that "this law will improve safety and working conditions for police officers and prevent motorists from facing unnecessary anxiety when encountering a police vehicle."


There was celebration among Illinois drivers last month when Senate Bill 2356 was enacted into Illinois law which raised the maximum speed limit on Illinois roads to 70 miles per hour. Unfortunately, a lesser noted portion of the same bill made penalties for speeding tickets even stricter, completing a three year trend of over-criminalization of speeding violations.

Until recently, speeding up to 39 mph over the posted speed limit was a petty offense that did not result in a jail sentence. Now, merely driving in excess of 25 mph over the posted limit is a misdemeanor carrying heavy fines and jail time. And, Court Supervision is no longer an option for these tickets, which means a permanent black mark on your driving record if you are convicted of speeding in excess of 25 mph.

It began in 2000, when the legislature criminalized speeding by decreeing that driving in excess of 39 miles over the limit is a Class A misdemeanor. Class A misdemeanors are punishable up to a year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine. Other examples of Class A misdemeanors include Battery, DUI, and Retail Theft. Court Supervision was a possible sentence for this offense.


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.


Illinois DUI offenders who have lost their driver's licenses could get back on the road if a current proposal passes through the Illinois Legislature. In May, an Illinois House committee voted 15-0 to approve legislation which would allow four-time DUI offenders to obtain a restricted driver's license permit which would limit the time and place an individual can drive. This permit would be designed for DUI offenders to be able to drive to and from work.

The Illinois Secretary of State records show that 380 Illinois residents lost their driver's licenses in 2013. Many of these revocations resulted from a fourth DUI conviction. Other revocations involved fleeing the scene of a crash involving serious injuries or reckless driving, which resulted in a death.

Illinois Restricted Driving Permit

Many who support Illinois SB1996 say the measure could improve road safety because many DUI offenders drive illegally without insurance. The application process to obtain a driver's permit under the new law would be very stringent. Four-time Illinois DUI offenders could only acquire a restricted driver's permit five years after losing their license or being released from prison. They would also need to prove three years of sobriety, complete alcohol treatment programs and install an alcohol detection device, called a BAIID, in their car that would disable the vehicle if they attempted to drive while intoxicated.

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