I don’t qualify for expungement or sealing of my criminal record: what can I do?

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Can’t get a decent job? Want to become a licensed professional but afraid your criminal record will prevent you? Don’t qualify for expungement or record sealing? All is not lost. There are options other than expungement and sealing available which can still assist you in obtaining a good job or even a career in a licensed profession.

Unfortunately, for many people, completing probation or jail time is not the end of their “debt to society”. If you were convicted of a felony or misdemeanor and are not eligible for expungement or sealing of your criminal record, you will find multiple barriers in your life to obtaining a good career or job, thereby holding you back from your true potential and making it far more difficult to provide financially for yourself and your loved ones.

Illinois has a number of laws and rules that bar people convicted of certain crimes from working certain jobs, getting certain licenses, or having access to certain benefits, like public housing. These laws mostly apply to people with felony convictions, but some laws also bar people with certain misdemeanor convictions, as well.

You may qualify for a “Certificate of Rehabilitation”. Certificates of Rehabilitation includeCertificates of Good Conduct and Certificates of Relief from Disabilities. Certificates can remove the “statutory bars” from getting a job. This means that instead of automatically being disqualified for a particular job or license because of your conviction(s), the employer or licensing agency has to consider you on an individual basis. If you have a certificate when you apply for a job or occupational license, the employer or licensing agency must assume that you are “rehabilitated,” unless there is evidence indicating that you are not.

These Certificates do not remove any offenses from your record but can be invaluable to removing barriers to getting or maintaining a good paying job or becoming a licensed professional. Both Certificates limit the civil and criminal liability of an employer who wishes to hire you. The employer, therefore, cannot be determined to be negligent in a court of law for their decision to hire you should they later be the subject of a lawsuit.

What are the differences between the two certificates?

There are to major differences between the two certificates, (1) who may qualify for each different type of certificate under the law, and (2) whether the certificate allows you to obtain a license for certain professions in spite of having a criminal history.

Certificates of Good Conduct

There are almost no differences in the rights restored by Certificates of Good Conduct and Certificates of Relief from Disabilities and both certificates demonstrate rehabilitation equally. The one important difference between the certificates involves restoring the right to hold public offices as a licensed professional. To obtain a Certificate of Good Conduct a person must first be deemed to be an eligible offender by 730 ILCS 5/5-5.5-5.

To be an eligible offender an individual must fit the following criteria:

  • Not convicted more than twice of a felony ( A person can have more than two convictions from the same incident and still qualify)
  • Not convicted of an offense or attempted offense under the Sex Offender Registration Act.
  • Not convicted of an offense or attempted offense under the Arsonist Registration Act.
  • Not convicted of an offense or attempted offense under the Child Murderer and Violent Offender against Youth Registration Act.
  • Not convicted of an offense or attempted offense of a Class X felony.
  • Not convicted of an offense or attempted offense of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol, other drugs or intoxicating compounds.
  • Not convicted of an offense or attempted offense of aggravated domestic battery.
  • Not convicted of an offense or attempted offense of forcible felony (first or second degree murder, aggravated arson, arson, aggravated kidnapping, kidnapping, aggravated battery that resulted in great bodily harm or permanent disability and any other felony that involved the use of physical force or violence against any individual that resulted in great bodily harm or permanent disability).
  • Have conducted oneself in a manner warranting the issuance of a Certificate of Good Conduct for a period of one year if the most serious offense was a misdemeanor.
  • Have conducted oneself in a manner warranting the issuance of a Certificate of Good Conduct for a period of three years if the most serious crime was a Class 1, 2, 3 or 4 felony.

The minimum period of good conduct is determined from the date of completion of payment of all fines imposed or the release from custody by parole, mandatory supervised release, or termination of the sentence.

Just because a defendant pleads guilty to multiple felony counts in a single indictment does not mean they will be disqualified for having “two or more” felony convictions. Multiple felonies contained in one charging document are still considered as one felony conviction for the purpose of obtaining a Certificate of Good Conduct.

Certificate of Relief from Disabilities

Many good paying jobs and professions require that you become licensed by the State of Illinois in order to work in that field. A felony or misdemeanor conviction is often an insurmountable barrier to obtaining a state license in the following professions if a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities is not obtained (this list is not all-inclusive and many other professions that require state licensing have not been included):

  • Vet Technician
  • Physical Trainer
  • Barber
  • Cosmetologist
  • Boiler and Pressure Vessel Repairer
  • Professional Boxer
  • Court Reporter
  • Farm Labor Contractor
  • Interior Designer
  • Land Surveyor
  • Family Therapist
  • Employment Agency Owner
  • Professional Counselor
  • Real Estate Agent and Broker
  • Licensed Roofer
  • Licensed Engineer
  • Water Well and Pump Installation Contractor
  • Electrologist
  • Auctioneer
  • Architect
  • Dietician
  • Funeral Director
  • Public Accountant

To qualify for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities, a person must meet all the same criteria of a Certificate of Good Conduct. The major difference, however, is that while a Certificate of Good Conduct requires that an individual not have more than two felony convictions, a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities requires that you not have more than one felony conviction.

As previously noted, a person can have multiple convictions from the same Bill of Indictment or incident and they will be counted as one conviction for the purpose of Obtaining a Certificate of Good Conduct or Certificate of Relief from Disabilities. Once a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities has been ordered by the court, your criminal past will not be a bar from obtaining a state license in your chosen career field.

If your criminal record is holding you back from achieving your professional and financial goals contact Miller Law Offices to discuss how we can help you.