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Changes to Illinois Rules on Clearing Juvenile Records May Be in the Works

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While people make unfortunate and life-altering mistakes throughout their lives, children and adolescents are especially prone to learning by doing, including those lessons that may involve criminal behavior. The latest neurological research shows, in fact, that a person’s critical thinking and decision-making centers in the part of the brain known as the cerebral cortex do not become fully formed until well after adolescence. That said, many Illinois residents face substantial challenges with finding employment or housing due to the fact that crimes they committed as kids remain on their records, despite the fact that these poor decisions were made before they had fully developed their reasoning abilities.

Illinois ranks as one of the most difficult states in which to obtain an expungement of a juvenile record. According to one review of statewide juvenile record expungement practices, 87% of all Illinois counties averaged less than one expungement of a juvenile record per year in the years between 2004 and 2014. Fifty percent of all Illinois counties haven’t erased the criminal offenses on a single juvenile’s record in the past ten years. One state senator wants to change this statewide pattern.

State Sen. Michael Hastings, the chair of the Senate’s criminal law committee, is now advocating for a bill which was passed by the Illinois House of Representatives that would make a wider array of juvenile offenses eligible for expungement. Sen. Hastings acknowledges that there may be certain valid reasons for maintaining a juvenile’s criminal record, such as when a felony investigation is pending that relies on the information contained in an individual’s juvenile record. He also acknowledges that certain violent offenses may need to remain on a record. However, Sen. Hastings thinks the system as it stands does a disservice to Illinois residents. Sen. Hastings said, “Just because you made a mistake when you were 16 doesn’t mean it should follow you when you’re 25. A lot of us make mistakes and we change as we get older.” He went on, “some kids can’t get into college or can’t get a job because these things are following them around for life.” Sen. Hastings felt optimistic about the passage of the bill in the Senate.

If you are facing criminal charges before the Markham Courthouse or Bridgeview Courthouse and want to ensure you have the best possible chances of beating those charges and moving on to a brighter future, contact the dedicated and knowledgeable Justice, IL criminal defense attorney John Fairman for a consultation, at 708-799-4848, or in Homewood at 708-799-4848.

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