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Second Chance Saturdays

Source: Edward Hightower / Edward Hightower

County agencies will join forces from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9 to host “Second Chance Saturday” at the Venice Recreational Center in Venice, Ill. Eligible Madison County residents will be able to expunge or seal criminal records; resolve outstanding traffic warrants, misdemeanor warrants and ordinance violations without concern for arrest; and also register to vote. The Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Circuit Clerk, and lawyers from Simmons Hanly Conroy and the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation will be onsite that day to assist individuals.

Activities for children will be provided, and the event will be followed by a free concert by the Dirty Muggs. Participants will also be treated to refreshments provided by McDonald’s of Granite City.

For those wanting to expunge or seal a criminal record, a preregistration form is available for download at www.simmonsfirm.com/2ndChance and should be returned to the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office in person or by email to SAinfo@co.madison.il.us no later than Aug. 31. Those who do not preregister will be helped on a first come, first served basis but are not guaranteed a spot the day of the event. Preregistration is not required for voter registration or those resolving warrants and fines.

County residents will be able to resolve outstanding traffic warrants, misdemeanor warrants or ordinance violations and will not be arrested unless the warrant is for a violent crime. The event is not for charges that occurred after August 15, 2017 or any of the following warrant types: domestic violence, child support, violations of orders of protection, civil contempt, or federal, felony or juvenile warrants. Photo identification is required the day of the event.

A similar event was hosted in 2016 at Simmons Hanly Conroy’s office in Alton, which helped more than 100 people remove past minor offenses, misdemeanors, and other nonviolent crimes from their records. This year’s event has been relocated to the southern part of the county to serve historically underrepresented residents. Additional county organizations involved include the Madison County Judiciary, Madison County Sheriff’s Office, the Venice Mayor’s Office, and the Leadership Council of Madison County.

Individuals with a criminal background often have difficulty re-entering the workforce. Expunging or sealing a record can give people a second chance by removing that employment barrier caused by a past encounter with the law years ago.

Expungement is a court-ordered process that causes a legal record of an arrest, court supervision or certain probations to be erased, or expunged, from that person’s criminal record. Sealing, which has a similar application process to expungement, prevents businesses or other agencies from accessing a person’s criminal record without a warrant. It is not uncommon for the entire process to take four to six months to complete.

The expungement process includes filling out petitions related to each charge or arrest, which then must be notarized by the clerk’s office and sent to the Department of Illinois State Police and the arresting agency for review. If no objections are raised, a final decision is then made by a county judge. County agency representatives hope Second Chance Saturday will expedite the process to 90 days.

Residents wanting an expungement should preregister and come prepared on Sept. 9 with the following information:

  • The case number
  • The date of arrest
  • The arresting law enforcement agency
  • The charges brought
  • Any paperwork they have relating to each case

Attendees can expect to meet with an attorney on a pro bono basis when they arrive. The attorney will review their paperwork, ensure they are  eligible to participate and answer any questions. The county agencies in attendance will assist in expediting the processes of expungement/sealing by allowing attendees to file all necessary paperwork at once. After meeting with an attorney, attendees will go to the Circuit Clerk booth to submit their paperwork and pay filing fees. However, the court may grant a fee waiver based on income and other factors.

A 30-day window will be provided to those who need additional time to secure the necessary paperwork or complete a drug test. Then, after 90 days, a Madison County judge will review submitted expungement or sealing requests and issue a final ruling in mid-September.

For more information regarding Second Chance Saturday, call 618-259-6559.

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