Past Crimes Plague Americans’ Prime Years

Even if you have led an exemplary life since your youth, a conviction for a past crime can cause problems that follow you into the prime years of your life. Not only can having a criminal record affect your employment and educational opportunities, it can limit your ability to get decent housing, ruin your relationships, and rob you of self-esteem.

Fortunately, in January 2017, recognizing that people who find meaningful work are less likely to keep committing crimes, several new Illinois laws went into effect that make it easier for people with past convictions to become functioning members of society.  These laws remove many employment restrictions for some people with criminal records, by allowing them to work in schools and park districts and to obtain health care licenses.  However, this can happen only after many years have passed since their convictions.

The Chicago Tribune reports that about 30,000 people leave Illinois prisons every year, but nearly half of them return within three years. If they are prevented from getting decent jobs by old criminal records, it increases the chances that they will wind up back in jail.

If you have been charged with a crime in Illinois, you face major penalties and a criminal record that will follow you and negatively impact your life, despite the easing of some barriers to employment.  Due to the seriousness and complexity of Illinois criminal law, it is essential to get top-notch legal assistance.  The experienced Illinois criminal defense lawyers at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. are skilled trial lawyers who believe each case is unique, with its own set of circumstances and requirements, and will work with you to mount the most effective defense possible.  We offer a free consultation, so contact us for help today at 630-305-0222 if you have been accused of any criminal charges.

New Law Changes

The “Job Opportunities For Qualified Applicants Act,” which took effect in January, 2015, prohibited employers from inquiring into, considering, or requiring the disclosure of a job applicant’s criminal history or background on a job application.

This year, Illinois has enacted laws to ease restrictions in the following areas:

1) Parks and Schools

Two of the new Illinois laws allow some people with drug convictions and misdemeanor public indecency or misdemeanor prostitution to work at schools or park districts if at least seven years have passed since they completed their sentences.  People convicted of other felonies, such as murder or sexual assault, are still banned from working in these areas.

2) Health Care

Effective January 1, 2017, Public Act 099-0886 (20 ILCS 2105/165) allows a licensed health care worker convicted of previously disqualifying forcible felonies to petition for a waiver of disqualification.

People convicted of forcible felonies, including first-degree murder, aggravated battery, robbery and burglary, may now apply to obtain health care licenses.  To do this, convicted felons may petition to have a denied health care license issued, or a revoked license reinstated, but not until five years after completion of their sentence or three years after their release from prison. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will consider factors such as the seriousness of the offense and determine whether to grant the license.  Sex offenders or people who have been convicted of criminal battery against a patient are still banned from health care licenses.

3) Occupational Licensing

Public Act 099-0876 allows people with records to obtain a license for occupations that include barbers, cosmetologists, nail technicians, hair braiders, roofers, funeral directors and embalmers.  The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation can no longer deny these licenses solely for having a criminal record, unless the conviction is directly related to the job or if conviction has been for crimes like murder and kidnapping.  Evidence of rehabilitation and factors such as the applicant’s age at the time of the crime must also be taken into consideration.

Criminal Record Expungement or Sealing

Other methods that can increase potential for employment for those with criminal records are expungement and sealing.  These processes either remove offenses from a person’s criminal history or shield offenses from viewing by prospective employers.

Expungement, available to people who have never been convicted, either destroys the records or returns them to the individual. Sealing or permanent record removal is available to people who complete special felony drug probation and other felony diversion programs. Sealing allows only law enforcement agents, courts, and select employers to have access to felony records, and only by court order.

Put Your Trust In Us — Contact Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. for a Free Consultation.

If you have been charged with any crime in Illinois, you need to hire the best criminal defense attorney that you can find.  The experienced and seasoned Illinois criminal defense attorneys at Wolfe Stec, Ltd. will examine the facts, the individuals involved, and the evidence available in every situation.  We work with our clients throughout the criminal process to develop an effective defense strategy and determine whether to take a case to trial. Our goal is always to minimize the negative impact of the situation and to focus on protecting your freedoms, liberties, rights, and your ability to find employment.

We are aggressive litigators and will answer all your questions and make sure you fully understand the facts surrounding your case.  We represent clients in DuPage County, Naperville, Aurora, Wheaton, Downers Grove and Bolingbrook, and the greater Chicagoland area.

Delaying can only make your situation worse, so contact us and call 630-305-0222 today to schedule your free initial consultation.