Aug 25

After Governor Bruce Rauner signed two new bills into law in August of 2017, Illinois will feature enhanced protection of rights for former criminal offenders, according to an article by Illinois Policy. The goal of both bills is to help former criminal offenders find gainful employment and integrate back into their communities.

The first bill, House Bill 2373 (HB2373), adjusts the requirements for record sealing under the Criminal Identification Act. This bill expands the conditions under which a former criminal offender can apply for record sealing. Individuals who did not commit violent or sexual felonies are eligible for record sealing. If a criminal record is sealed, the general public and private employers are unable to access the records without a court order.

Additionally, HB2373 allows the Illinois courts to seal records in cases of public indecency, which is a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense. HB2373 also prevents Illinois courts from sealing records for violations under the Humane Care for Animals Act.

The second bill, House Bill 3817 (HB3817), adjusts several requirements under the Juvenile Court Act of 1987. This bill most notably allows for automatic expungement of juvenile criminal records under various circumstances. If a record is expunged, all related files are deleted or destroyed. Essentially, expunged records disappear from existence.

Even if a juvenile record was not expunged, HB3817 specifies that such records will be sealed and unavailable to the general public and private employers. HB3817 also prevents the release of sealed juvenile records, unless there is a showing of “good cause” and an accompanying order from a juvenile court.

As outlined in a report by the National Consumer Law Center, background checks are a common reality for most job applications today. Consequently, a criminal record can prevent a person from securing gainful employment.

In the absence of a legal job, former criminals can slip back into a life of crime. Approximately 48% of adults and 53% of juveniles return to prison within three years of their release, according to a 2015 executive order from Governor Rauner. Given how many employers conduct background checks today, former criminals can have a tough time securing legal jobs.

Overall, both HB2373 and HB3817 will have a positive impact on adults and juveniles who were charged with or convicted of nonviolent and nonsexual crimes. If such individuals are able to secure legal employment, they are much less likely to commit new crimes.

Do You Need Legal Advice?

No matter what the criminal offense, all criminal charges are serious. Without a sound strategy and an aggressive defense, you could miss out on your best chance for a positive outcome. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand the law and navigate toward an effective resolution.

Serving the counties of Dewitt, Ford, Livingston, Logan, McLean, Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford, The Prior Law Firm is located in Bloomington, Illinois. Our attorneys are dedicated to the practice of Illinois criminal law. If you need legal advice concerning any criminal offense, please do not hesitate to contact us immediately.

You can reach The Prior Law Firm by phone at (309) 827-4300, email at or online by completing a simple form.

(image courtesy of Miguel A. Ramirez)