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How a Governor’s Pardon Can Clear Your Criminal Record

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Someone who committed a crime ten or twenty years ago will still have that conviction on their criminal record, even after they have been fully released from prison, probation, and/or parole. While some criminal convictions can be sealed or expunged from your criminal record (preventing them from showing up on background checks for employment and other purposes) other crimes, such as driving under the influence , are not eligible for either sealing or expungement.

For example, someone might have been convicted of DUI, burglary, or drug possession at age 22, and this can still cause them problems at age 40, such as reducing employment opportunities, preventing them from getting the license necessary to practice a certain profession, and restricting them from getting a FOID card that will allow them to participate in hunting and shooting sports.

For crimes that do not qualify for either sealing or expungement , there is a third option: getting a pardon from the state governor, also known as executive clemency.

Illinois Process for Executive Clemency (Governor Pardon)

1. A good first step is to consult an attorney who has experience with the executive clemency process in Illinois and can advise you of your chances for success. The odds are better for people whose crime is at least ten years in the past and who have been upstanding citizens ever since.

2. You will need to prepare and submit a petition to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board. You must write “a complete and detailed account of the offense(s) for which you seek pardon” along with a complete life history and “your reasons for seeking a pardon, including opportunities that have been denied because of your criminal record.”

3. The Prisoner Review Board holds quarterly hearings to review petitions. Within 60 days of a hearing, the Board will send the governor their recommendations.

4. The governor will decide whether to grant the pardon. There is no deadline by which the governor must respond. The Board will notify you once the governor has made a decision.

5. If you receive a pardon, you can then petition for expungement of that crime from your record.

Clear Your Record with Help from a Joliet Expungement Attorney

Past mistakes should stay in the past, yet one crime committed many years ago can still affect your employment opportunities today. There are several ways to prevent old crimes from showing up on background checks by potential employers. There is sealing, expungement, and even the possibility of a pardon from the state governor. An experienced Will County expungement lawyer can help you determine the right process for you and guide you through the process of clearing your record as thoroughly as possible. Contact the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025 for a free consultation.

Man Charged With Hate Crime for Harassing Woman Wearing Puerto Rico Flag Shirt

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According to Illinois law , a person can be charged with a hate crime when he or she commits certain offenses and is motivated by the actual or perceived characteristics of another person or a group of people. These characteristics include race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, and disability status. The offenses that can be charged as hate crimes include assault, battery , intimidation, criminal trespass, theft, cyberstalking, and many others.

While it can be difficult to prove a person’s motivation for committing a particular crime in many cases, it is often much easier in others. Such seems to be the situation for a Chicago man whose interaction with a woman wearing a Puerto Rico flag shirt was caught on camera and resulted in hate crime charges against the man.

A Disturbing Account

The incident occurred in the Forest Preserves of Cook County and began making headlines when a video of the interaction went viral. In the video, a man can be seen approaching a young woman who was wearing a t-shirt that displayed the red, white, and blue Puerto Rican flag. The woman—who also filmed the encounter—was waiting for her family to help her celebrate her birthday.

The man told the woman that she should not wear a shirt that celebrates Puerto Rico if she is a U.S. citizen. “You should not be wearing that in the United States of America,” the man can be seen and heard saying. “Are you a citizen?” When the woman responded that she was a citizen, he said, “Then you should not be wearing that. You should be wearing a United States of America flag.” It seems that the man did not realize that Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, and its citizens are also American citizens.

A police officer arrived on the scene, but he did not take action or intervene in any way. The man continued to invade the woman’s personal space and to make comments about Puerto Rico.

Elevated Charges

In the wake of the video going public, the man was charged with disorderly conduct and misdemeanor assault. However, Cook County prosecutors formally announced two counts of hate crime charges. The lesser charges still stand for now, but they could be dropped in favor of the more serious counts. A hate crime committed at a public park such as the Forest Preserves is a Class 3 felony, and the man could face up to five years in prison for each count. Probation could also be an option, and prosecutors have not announced whether they would push for jail time.

The officer who did not take action on the scene has resigned. He had been placed on desk duty following the incident, but Forest Preserves announced last week that the officer is no longer with the department.

Facing Criminal Charges?

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, it is important to have a skilled Joliet criminal defense attorney on your side protecting your rights. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.

College Man Shot By Police After He Refuses to Put Down Gun

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A college student was shot by three police officers July 12 after he was repeatedly told to lower his weapon. The man, a student at the University of Illinois, was shot in the leg after he pointed what was at the time thought to be a handgun at police and was given multiple warnings to drop the gun. Two college police officers and a Champaign County sheriff's deputy encountered the man after they received a call about a man loading a semi-automatic handgun. The man, who was later identified as a student at the University of Illinois, was charged with felony disorderly conduct .

Handgun Turns Out to Be Pellet Gun

When the police arrived on the scene, they were under the impression that the man was holding a loaded handgun. After instructing the man several times to lower the weapon, they shot him in the leg. After closer inspection of the gun, it was determined to be a Beretta air pellet pistol , which looks very similar to a real handgun. Police say the gun would not have been identified as an air pellet pistol without a close inspection.

Man Placed Call About Himself

Police reported to the scene after they received a call about a man loading a handgun. The 23-year-old man’s mother informed police that he placed the phone call himself before police showed up. The man gave a description of a white male in his 20s of a medium build with brown hair, which is how the officers identified the suspect and proceeded to defuse the situation. Because the situation is still under investigation, all three officers are on paid leave, which is in accordance with policy.

Legal Ramifications

After the incident, the man was charged with felony disorderly conduct . In Illinois, disorderly conduct is defined as:

• Acts done purposefully to alarm or disturb another and to upset the peace;

• Giving officials false alarms of threats such as fire and explosives;

• Telling officials threats of harm to others, whether false or not;

• Giving false reports to the Department of Children and Family Services or the Department of Public Health; or

• Invading someone’s privacy by entering their property and looking into their dwelling.

Depending on what type of situation caused the disorderly conduct charge, the crime could be classified anywhere from a Class C misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony. In this case, the man was charged with a Class 4 felony misdemeanor, which carries a possible sentence of one to three years in prison with one year of parole after being released from prison.

Seek Help From a Joliet Criminal Defense Attorney

Though brandishing a gun and disrupting the peace is never a good idea, if you have been charged with disorderly conduct, you can contest those charges in court. By contacting an aggressive and knowledgeable Will County criminal defense lawyer , you can figure out what your best course of action would be. Contact the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C. to begin discussing your case in a free consultation by calling 815-740-4025.


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