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Illinois Looks to Expand Sealing Rules for Felons, Reduce Barriers to Licensing Due to a Prior Criminal Record

As the Illinois General Assembly approaches its deadline for passing legislation this year, two bills are worth watching if you or someone you know has a criminal background. If passed, one bill would permit  more convicted felons to seal their records, while the other bill will make it easier for someone with a criminal record to obtain a professional or occupational license.

Current Sealing Rules Excludes Most Felony Offenses

Currently, Illinois only permits a handful of felony convictions to be sealed. They include: prostitution (Class 4), possession of a controlled substance (includes cannabis, steroids, methamphetamine) (Class 4), possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell or manufacture (Class 3), theft and retail theft (Classes 3 & 4), forgery (Class 3 & 4), deceptive practices (Class 3 & 4), and possession of burglary tools (Class 4). The majority of these offenses have only been sealable since 2014.

Pending Legislation Would Expand Sealing Rules

House Bill (HB) 2373 http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=2373&GAID=14&DocTypeID=HB&LegId=103010&SessionID=91&GA=100 is the first piece of legislative since 2013 that would significantly expand the state’s sealing rules.

If HB 2373 is passed, most but not all felony offenses would be sealable. The following crimes would still be excluded: crimes requiring registration as a sex offender, DUI, domestic battery, violations of  an order of protection, and violations under the Human Care for Animals Act. Additionally, anyone who is required to register under the Arsonist Registration Act or the Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth Registration would not be eligible to seal their record until they are no longer required to register under these laws.

On April 27, the House passed HB 2373 and it is now pending in the Senate.

Current Licensing Rules Consider Sealed Records, Discipline New Licensees for Prior Crimes

Currently, when someone applies for a professional or occupational license in Illinois, he/she must disclose sealed/expunged criminal records. This history can be used to deny someone a license or issue a license on probation. The negative consequences of receiving a license on probation are lifelong.

House Bill (HB) 3342 http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=3342&GAID=14&DocTypeID=HB&LegId=105096&SessionID=91&GA=100, if passed, would prohibit Illinois’ largest licensing authority, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), from considering expunged or sealed records.

Also, the bill would enable let someone whose license was issued on probation because of a prior criminal conviction to petition the IDFPR to remove this information from his license history once the licensee is no longer on probation. Currently, this information remains a matter of public record indefinitely.

On April 25, the House passed HB 3342 and it is now pending in the Senate. The Senate has until the end of May 12 to approve HB 2373 and HB 3342 if either bill has a chance of becoming law.

If you are interested in seeing either bill become law, please contact your State Senator and tell him or her to vote “yes” for these bills.

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