Know Your Rights: Governor Quinn Signs Ban the Box Legislation

Ban the Box Image-page-001 This past weekend, Governor Pat Quinn signed the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act, also known as Ban the Box legislation, which prohibits employers from performing background checks until after an employer finds an applicant is qualified for the job and the employee has been selected for an interview. The governor stated the Ban the Box legislation “will help ensure that people across Illinois get a fair shot to reach their full potential through their skills and qualifications, rather than past history. It will also help reduce recidivism, fight poverty and prevent violence in our communities by putting more people back to work.” Click here to view the Governor’s press release.

The Ban the Box legislation takes effect on January 1, 2015. This law does not apply to jobs where employers must exclude applicants with criminal histories.

The Illinois Department of Labor is responsible for investigating any alleged violations of the Act, the Director of Labor may impose civil penalties ranging from a written warning for the first offense to a fine of $1,500 for the third offense.

Click here to check out the full text of the Act.

Also, remember that expunging and sealing your criminal record may be an option for you to ease the job search process. Check out our previous blog posts discussing the expungement and sealing process. If you have questions about how your criminal history may affect your job search or expunging or sealing your criminal record, give the Law Offices of Laura J. Morask a call for a free consultation.

Recent Developments Regarding Illinois’ Concealed Carry Act: Remedying The Secrecy of Denial

Earlier this month, the Chicago Tribune published an article examining the 193+ applicants who filed lawsuits against the Illinois State Police to increase the transparency of the concealed carry application denial process. The Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board is the body that makes decisions regarding denials of permits, but until recently was not required to inform applicants of the reason for their permit denial.

The lawsuits claim the applicants were denied due process because of the complete secrecy regarding a Board’s decision to deny an applicant a concealed carry permit. The Tribune noted that review of application by the Illinois State Police was a necessary compromise intended to aid in terminating the ban on concealed carry.

The Illinois State Police announced this past Monday it will require the Board to provide denied applicants with more information as to why they were rejected. Under the new rules, the Board must notify the applicant if there is a “credible objection” to the application and “give the basis of the objection and identify the agency that brought it.” The applicant will then have 10 days to respond.

However, the Tribune also reported that of the more than 800 applicants who have been denied, only the roughly 193 applicants who filed lawsuits may take their case to the Board, but only with judicial approval.

The new rules are only valid for 150 days after which the General Assembly must approve the rules for them to become permanent.

Click here to check out our earlier post discussing the Rights and Remedies of the Concealed Carry Law. If you have been denied a concealed carry permit contact the Law Offices of Laura J. Morask to discuss your options.

concealed carry infographic

Office Update: What’s Happening at the Law Offices!

photoGood morning from the Law Offices of Laura J. Morask!  We hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July and are enjoying the beautiful weather!  It has been a busy week so far at the Law Offices.  Laura is preparing for trial at the end of the month and Tim is currently on trial in Michigan.  Tim is also about to celebrate his one-year anniversary of taking the Bar Exam!  Congratulations, Tim!

We would also like to take a moment to wish our beloved-rockstar office manager a Happy Birthday!  Maddy is an integral, invaluable member of the team here at the Law Offices.  She is always ready to take on the next challenge, whether it is calling the internet provider twice a week to find out why our internet and phones are down, or talking clients through difficult times and experiences.

Our wonderful legal assistant Michael has been enjoying his first post high school summer and recently returned from vacation.  Soon Michael’s responsibilities with Laura will increase as he saves money for college in the fall.

We want to hear from you!  Client contact is of the utmost importance and we want to know what you want to learn about and what is important to you.  Give us a call or leave us a comment and let us know!

Happy Independence Day!

Here Are The Top 5 Tips To Keep In Mind This Fourth of July

Image courtesy of nirots/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of nirots/freedigitalphotos.net

1.  Remember DUI Checkpoints are everywhere!  The Chicago Police and the Illinois State Police plan to assign additional patrol units to the streets.  Beware of additional checkpoints with officers on the lookout for drunk drivers and law violators.  Also, July 4th is one of the deadliest holidays of the year.  Last year there were 58 fatalities in Illinois over the Independence Day weekend, almost half of which were attributed to drunken driving.  See the Illinois Department of Transportation Press Release: “Illinois Law Enforcement to Crack Down on Drunk, Unbuckled Drivers this 4th of July Travel Weekend.”

2.  Remember all of the new and old traffic laws including:

      • Julie’s Law which prohibits judges from ordering court supervision for drivers who were issued a ticket for exceeding the speed limit by more than 25 miles in a residential urban district, or by more than 30 miles in a rural area.
      • No Cellphone/Texting Law which makes it a violation to use a cellphone (call or text) behind the wheel.  Cell phone use must be “Hands Free.”
      • Don’t throw your cigarette out the window!  As of January 1, 2014, cigarettes are considered litter.  Potential penalties for littering include: a Class B misdemeanor and a fine up to $1500 for a first time conviction, a Class A misdemeanor and a fine up to $1500 for a second conviction, and three or more convictions carries a Class 4 charge and a fine up to $25,000!

3. Wear your seatbelt when driving and watch out for cameras!  School buses now have cameras on them to capture any driver who illegally passes by them at a stop.  Beware of red-light cameras and speed cameras both downtown and throughout the suburbs.

4.  Parents and kids: Remember the Curfew!  In Illinois, a child under the age of 17 violates curfew when he or she lingers or stays in a public place or even a private business during curfew hours.  Curfew hours are from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 12:01 a.m. to 6 a.m. Saturday and Sunday mornings.  Violating curfew is a petty offense carrying hefty fines ranging anywhere from $500 to $750 depending on location and a judge can hold the parent liable and order the parent to perform community service.

5.  Have Fun!  We at the Law Offices of Laura J. Morask love celebrating the Fourth of July and hope you do too!  Some of us will be up in the north woods, some will be barbequing, and Laura will be marching in the City of DesPlaines Independence Day Parade with the Maine Township Trustees!  Grab the kids, grab you friends and come out to celebrate the Fourth of July at this wonderful event, and look for Laura on Float #44.  She will give you extra candy!

If you are arrested for DUI call an experienced and knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible.  We here at the Law Offices of Laura Morask are well versed and experienced in the ever expanding and increasingly stricter body of DUI law, so please call for a free consultation.

20th Annual Park Ridge Garden Walk

Summer has officially arrived and the flowers are gorgeous! This past weekend was the 20th Annual Park Ridge Garden Walk and Laura’s home garden was one of the six private gardens selected by the Park Ridge Garden Club to showcase delightful flowers and inspiring landscape design. This was a great opportunity for members of the community to come together and enjoy the beautiful weekend and welcome the long awaited dog days of summer. Click here to visit the Chicago Tribune post showcasing the Park Ridge Garden Walk.

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Here is Laura’s personal story of her family’s home and garden. Enjoy the sunshine!

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What You Need To Know About Expunging and Sealing Your Criminal Record: Part 3

Now that we have discussed the basics of expunging and sealing your criminal record, it’s time to answer some Frequently Asked Questions!

1. Q: Do you need to hire a lawyer to assist in filing a petition to expunge or seal your criminal record?

A: Due to the complex process, we recommend hiring a lawyer to assist in filing a petition to expunge or seal your criminal record. However, there are resources available for individuals who cannot afford an attorney or wish to petition to expunge or seal their own record. See the Criminal and Traffic Expungement and Sealing Procedural Guide and note page 2 which provides a list of dates, times, and locations for criminal record expungement and sealing assistance at various courthouses.

2. Q: Why should I file a petition to expunge or seal my criminal record?

A: There are many reasons why it is beneficial for individuals to expunge or seal their criminal record when possible. First, expunging or sealing your criminal record may help you get a job and will also protect the privileges and rights you are entitled to under the law. See the following two questions for examples of what an employer may and may not do under the law. Second, expunging or sealing your criminal record either (1) limits the public’s view of the record in all cases (expungement) or (2) only allows certain law enforcement organizations and individuals to see your record unless a court order was issued by a judge (seal). Third, if you don’t expunge or seal your criminal record, your arrest will appear on your record forever!

3. Q: Are employers allowed to ask you if you have had records expunged or sealed?

A: No. And you are not required to disclose this information on employment applications. See 20 ILCS 2630/12.

4. Q: Can an employer use the fact that you had a criminal record expunged or sealed as a reason to hire, fire, or affect the terms, conditions or privileges of your employment?

A: No. It is a civil rights violation under 20 ILCS 2630/12 for an employer to use the fact you have had a criminal record expunged or sealed as a reason to hire, fire, or affect your terms of employment.

5. Q: What is a RAP sheet and do you need one to file a petition to expunge or seal?

A: A rap sheet, formally known as a Criminal History Record Information, provides a list of your arrests and convictions in the State of Illinois. If you are filing your petition in Chicago a copy of your rap sheet is mandatory. If you are filing in one of the five suburban districts, a rap sheet is not required but is recommended.

6. Q: What is considered a conviction?

A: A conviction is a final judgment of guilt by the court. A conviction includes probation (with certain exceptions), conditional discharge, fine, time considered served, jail time, and a finding of guilty by a judge or jury.

7. Q: What is not considered a conviction?

A: Supervision, nolle prosequi, stricken off with leave to reinstate (SOL), finding of no probable cause (FNPC), non-suit, dismissed, finding of not guilty (FNG), or successful completion of first-offender drug probation.

8. Q: Your case may be eligible for expungement but the time period has not passed yet, can you seal my record in the meantime?

A: Yes. You can seal your record and then when the time period passes you may petition to expunge your record.

9. Q: Are there other forms of relief if your petition to expunge or seal your criminal record is denied?

A: Yes. Other options include*:

Petitions for Executive Clemency: If your petition has been denied, you can file a petition for executive clemency with the governor. A pardon allows a person to expunge a conviction that is otherwise ineligible.
Health Care Waivers: Removes statutory barriers to working in health care facilities;
Certificates of Good Conduct: A finding by the court that the offender has been rehabilitated. A Certificate of Good Conduct can be used to navigate around certain employment and licensing bars;
Certificates of Eligibility for Sealing: A recommendation from the Illinois Prisoner Review Board to order the sealing of an offense that is otherwise ineligible to be sealed.
Obtaining a PERC Card (Permanent Employee Registration Card): PERC cards allow individuals to apply for and achieve eligibility for security positions.

10. Q: What if you were charged as a juvenile?

A: See Section 5-915 of the Juvenile Court Act (705 ILCS 405/5-915). Also see the Guide to Expunge or Seal Your Illinois Juvenile Record prepared by the Office of the State Appellate Defender.

* This list is not exhaustive.

Here is a link to the Clerk of Cook County’s Do-It-Yourself Guide. The guide was also referenced in this post. While the Clerk’s guide offers an excellent step-by-step guide and includes the relevant forms, the process can still be intimidating and confusing. If you have any questions regarding expunging or sealing your criminal record as an adult or a juvenile, from reading your RAP sheet to filing a petition for executive clemency, give us a call at the Law Offices of Laura Morask for a free consultation.

What You Need To Know About Expunging and Sealing Your Criminal Record: Part 2

If you have a criminal conviction on your record, your record may not be eligible for expungement, but you may be eligible to seal your criminal record.  The difference between expunging and sealing your criminal record was discussed in Part 1 of this series, and we cautioned that filing a petition to expunge your criminal record can be a complicated process.  The rules and guidelines for sealing your criminal record can be even more complex and cumbersome.

An important difference between expunging and sealing your criminal record is who or what agency can access the information.  A sealed criminal record can be accessed by a court order or, under 20 ILCS 2630/12 and 13a sealed criminal record can also be accessed by law enforcement, including police officers, prosecutors, and the courts.

Not all criminal records are eligible for sealing.  Generally, the only criminal records that can be sealed are minor, non-violent, non-sexual misdemeanors, and certain felony convictions.

Examples of Non-Violent, Non-Sexual Misdemeanors That Can Be Sealed*: theft, trespass, disorderly conduct, possession of cannabis, prostitution, resisting arrest, retail theft, possession of a weapon, and gambling.

Misdemeanors Which CANNOT Be Sealed*:
• Offenses Under Section 2 of the Crime Victims Compensation Act Including*: Battery, Assault, Domestic Battery, Violations of Order of Protection, Reckless Conduct;
• Sex Offenses Under Article 11 of the Criminal Code (except prostitution);
• Sexual offenses committed against a minor;
Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs or intoxicating compounds;
Reckless driving;
• Violations of the Humane Care for Animals Act Including: Dog Fighting and Animal Cruelty.

WAITING PERIODS: Just as there are waiting periods for expungement—2 years for court supervision and 5 years for qualified probation—there are complex and strict waiting periods for individuals seeking to seal their criminal records.

• You can immediately petition to seal a case that resulted in one of the following dispositions: you were released without being charged, you were acquitted, or your case was dismissed. (Exception: SOL/non-suit waiting period is 120-160 days). Acquittals and dismissals can be sealed at any time.

• If you have never been convicted of a criminal offense, you must wait 3 years from the termination of the last sentence on your record before you can petition to seal any case on your record.

• If you were convicted or sentenced to court supervision, you must wait 4 years from the termination of the last sentence on your record. This 4 year waiting period applies to any findings of guilt no matter how long ago it occurred.

• If you received a conviction for a qualifying misdemeanor, you must wait 4 years from the termination of the last sentence on your record.

• If you received probation, including Cannabis Control Act probation, Illinois Controlled Substances Act probation, Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act probation, Alcoholism and Other Drug Use Dependency Act probation, and/or Steroid Control Act probation, your case qualifies for sealing 4 years from the termination of the last sentence on your record.

• If you were convicted of a Class 4 felony including prostitution, possession of cannabis, possession of a controlled substance, theft, retail theft, deceptive practices, forgery, or possession of burglary tools*, your case qualifies for sealing 4 years from the termination of the last sentence on your record.

• If you were convicted of a Class 3 felony including theft, retail theft, deceptive practices, forgery, or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance, your case qualifies for sealing 4 years from the termination of the last sentence on your record.

Sealing a criminal record is on a case by case basis, whereas expunging your record is “all or nothing.”  Next time we will discuss frequently asked questions and alternative remedies when expunging or sealing your record is not an option.

* This list is not exhaustive.

See the Illinois General Assembly website for the statute, 20 ILCS 2630/5.2 Expungement and Sealing, and visit the Clerk of Cook County’s website for a very helpful do-it-yourself style procedural guide.

We here at the Law Offices of Laura Morask stand ready to help you with your expunging or sealing needs.  If you have any questions, please give us a call!

What You Need To Know About Expunging and Sealing Your Criminal Record: Part 1

Image courtesy of Naypong and everystockphoto.com.

Image courtesy of Naypong/everystockphoto.com.

If you have been arrested, charged, or convicted of a crime you have a criminal record! Expunging or sealing your criminal record is a legal remedy; your petition to expunge or seal must be filed in court. There is no automatic expungement or sealing of criminal records.

What’s the difference between expungement and sealing? Expungement means the arresting agency and/or Illinois State Police physically destroys your criminal record or returns your record to you. Sealing a record makes it unavailable without a court order, but the record is physically and electronically maintained. As long as you have no criminal conviction on your record, your record may be eligible for expungement. If you have just one criminal conviction, your record is not eligible for expungement, but it might be eligible for sealing (stay tuned for Part 2 of this series).

When considering whether to file a petition to expunge or seal your criminal record, first check the disposition of your case. This means you must determine whether you were given probation or conditional discharge, required to pay a fine, whether the judge considered time served (days you spent in jail) or sentenced you to jail (or the Illinois Department of Corrections), whether a judge or jury found you guilty, or whether you were given a disposition of not guilty.

IMPORTANT! If you were given court supervision or qualified probation, it was successfully completed, and you have no other criminal convictions, your record may be expungeable. If you did not successfully complete your court supervision or qualifying probation, you have a conviction unless the unsatisfactory termination is reversed, vacated, or modified.

You can petition for expungement of your criminal record immediately if you were never convicted of a crime, you were released without being charged, you were acquitted, and/or your case was dismissed. (Two Exceptions for SOL or non-suit)

If you were given court supervision, you must wait 2 years from the successful completion of the supervision before you can file to expunge your record.

If you were given qualified probation, you must wait 5 years from the successful completion of the probation before you can file to expunge your record.

BEWARE: Sentences of supervision for the following offenses cannot be expunged: Driving Under the Influence, Reckless Driving, Sex Offenses Against Minors.

Takeaway Tips:

1. If you have ever been arrested you have a criminal record!
2. If you have even one criminal conviction, you cannot expunge your record.
3. If your record is not eligible for expungement, it may be eligible for sealing.
4. Expunging or sealing your record not automatic!

Expunging or sealing a criminal record can be a complicated process, so be sure to contact an attorney who understands the requirements and nuances involved in the procedure. The Law Offices of Laura J. Morask seeks to educate the community on the basics of criminal law, so please feel free to call our offices to discuss the possibility of expunging or sealing your criminal record.

See the Illinois General Assembly website for the statute, 20 ILCS 2630/5.2 Expungement and Sealing, and visit the Clerk of Cook County’s website for a helpful procedural guide.

Summertime Fun with DUI Checkpoints: The Top 5 Things To Do If You Encounter a DUI Checkpoint

Summertime has finally arrived!  After a long, hard, and cold winter, children are outside riding bikes and playing games.  Families and friends are enjoying sunshine in the park.  With warmer weather comes more fun, and holidays like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July are perfect occasions to relax, take a break from your work, and reflect on our nation’s freedoms and hard-fought independence.

Along with summertime fun, come police safety roadblock checkpoints cracking down on seatbelt or equipment violations, but which are also used to deter drunken driving. These checkpoints are used to ensure motorists are wearing their seatbelts, children are properly secured in car seats, and the motorist has proper license and registration.

In 1985, the Illinois Supreme Court found checkpoints are legal even when there is no probable cause or reasonable suspicion an individual is committing or is about to commit a crime.  To determine whether the checkpoints were constitutional under the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against reasonable search and seizure, the court balanced the “degree of intrusion on the individual’s privacy” with the public’s interest in allowing the police to establish DUI checkpoints.

Here are the top five things you should do if you encounter a DUI checkpoint:

1. It’s better to be safe than sorry! Don’t drive with any amount of alcohol in your system.

2. Take another route! If you know of the checkpoint before hand, plan your travels accordingly and avoid the checkpoint location.

3. Know your rights! Do not consent to a search of your car or trunk. But…

4. Be polite and courteous! You do not have to answer questions beyond providing the police officer with your license and registration.

5. If you have been arrested or charged with DUI, call a lawyer immediately! We here at the Law Offices of Laura J. Morask practice in the DUI field and can offer you a free consultation.

One Final Note: The last weekend in June, the Illinois State Police will set up checkpoints at the following locations:

Saturday – Sunday, June 28-29 from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. on the Dan Ryan Expressway, southbound exit to 87th street.

Sunday – Monday, June 29-30 from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. on I-57 southbound exit to 119th street.

Image courtesy of www.EveryStockPhoto.com

Concealed Carry: Rights and Remedies

Last July, Illinois joined the other 49 states and enacted a concealed carry law. Unsurprisingly, the passage of the law has not been without its glitches and kinks as implementation of the law evolves. The legislature enacted the law to permit law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms, so long as they pass a background check and successfully complete the requisite trainings.

The nearly year old concealed carry law has stringent limitations. For example, while the law permits residents and non-residents to apply for a license to carry a concealed handgun, under 430 ILCS 66/65(a-10), the owner of a private or real property of any type may prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms on the property under his or her control. The property owner must post a sign indicating firearms are prohibited on the property, unless the property is a private residence. Not only are those who carry a concealed weapon prohibited from entering places of business which have chosen to prohibit such patrons, individuals with concealed carry licenses are prohibited from carrying those weapons in the following locations:

• Schools, both public and private
• Government buildings (including courthouses)
• Hospitals, nursing homes, and mental facilities
• Playgrounds and public parks
• Stadium Arenas
• Public Libraries
• Airports
• Amusement parks, museums, and zoos

This is an example of the sign private property owners must display if they choose to prohibit individuals from carrying concealed weapons on their premises.

This is an example of the sign private property owners must display if they choose to prohibit individuals from carrying concealed weapons on their premises.

If an individual with a concealed carry permit brings a concealed weapon into the place of business, which prohibits such activity, the offender will be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. A second or subsequent conviction is a Class A misdemeanor. As more applicants file for and receive concealed carry licenses, it is more important now than ever for property owners to understand their rights under the law.

If you have been charged with a violation under the concealed carry act we can represent you in your criminal case or, if you have been denied an application for a concealed carry license, we can help you. The laws and procedures around the appellate process are still developing but there are stringent procedural deadlines for the denied person to follow. Thus, it is helpful to enlist the services of an attorney familiar with the administrative hearing process. At the Law Offices of Laura Morask, one of our practice areas is administrative hearings so feel free to call us for a free consultation. In the event you have been denied a permit and are seeking to appeal that denial, see 430 ILCS 66/87.

Visit the Illinois General Assembly website to read the Concealed Carry Act in its entirety.