Changes to Expungement Law Could Make a Major Difference for Many

The Illinois Criminal Identification Act (ICIA) governs numerous components of the state’s criminal system, including regulations about expungement of a person’s criminal record, and in recent months, it has undergone a major change. Since the law’s official modifications went into effect on January 1, 2017, some ex-convicts in Illinois have seen their lives change for the better. However, many are still unaware of the potentially beneficial amendments to the ICIA.

The Changes

The specific changes made to the ICIA may be somewhat difficult for the average person to understand, as the relevant statute is couched in highly technical language. Essentially, however, the most substantive change is to the requirements one must meet before beginning the process of expunging an eligible arrest from one’s record. Formerly, any Illinois resident who had been convicted of any type of crime which was not expungeable could not petition to remove any crimes on their record that were. The passage of Public Act 099-0881 in late 2016 changed that, with the law going into effect at the beginning of this year.

The measure modified the ICIA at 20 ILCS 2630/5.2(b)(1), and it states that a person—even one who has been previously convicted of a non-expungeable criminal offense—may petition the relevant Circuit Court for expungement of any crime that is eligible. It even permits non-convictions to be expunged if an appropriate showing of the necessity of doing so is shown. Incidents such as successfully completed orders of supervision and arrests without charges may be removed from one’s criminal record if a petition is approved to do so. It can be difficult for many people to find gainful employment without a clean criminal record, and even court supervision or probation is enough to cost some workers their jobs.

Fee Waiver Pilot Program

One other change to Illinois’ expungement law involves a pilot program to waive the filing fees that would normally be incurred by those seeking expungements. While this may sound relatively inconsequential—the filing fees are high but not insurmountable for most—it has wider ramifications for former convicts who may have trouble obtaining employment following the completion of their case. The state is testing out the measure for one year, and in 2018, the clerks of court are scheduled to begin collecting filing fees again.

The unemployment rate among previously convicted individuals is extremely high, but steady employment is one of the most significant factors that may keep a first-time offender from becoming a repeat offender. If a person has no job and no money, the expungement process may be the difference between finding employment and being declined once more. Illinois has passed legislation to “ban the box,” meaning that criminal history may not be a factor in deciding whether or not to hire an otherwise qualified applicant, but significant obstacles still face former offenders. Removing the filing fees may eliminate one of them.

Consult a Knowledgeable Attorney

By permitting those with non-expungeable offenses to petition for the removal of expungeable offenses from their criminal record, the state of Illinois has shown its cautious interest in giving more offenders a chance to rejoin the legitimate workforce, which can only benefit all involved. If you need help seeking the expungement of your record or have questions concerning the process, contact a dedicated Joliet expungement attorney. Call the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025 for a free, no-obligation consultation today.

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