Legal FAQs

Get the facts from Attorney Shay T. Allen, a law professor and former Cook County prosecutor who handled thousands of complex cases.

  • Unreasonable searches and seizures.
  • Cruel and unusual punishment.
  • Losing a job or being passed over for a promotion due to discrimination.
  • Abuse by a public official.
  • Any discrimination based on a superficial quality or belief.

Civil rights are personal rights guaranteed and protected by the U.S. Constitution and federal laws enacted by Congress, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

  • Freedom of speech. Freedom of the press.
  • Freedom of religion.
  • Freedom to vote.
  • Freedom against unwarranted searches of your home or property.
  • Freedom to have a fair court trial.
  • Freedom to remain silent in a police interrogation.

1983, that allows people to sue the government for civil rights violations. It applies when someone acting ‘under color of’ state-level or local law has deprived a person of rights created by the U.S. Constitution or federal statutes.


An example would be the failure of a funded correctional facility to provide interpreter services to hearing-impaired inmates. Another example would be a funded police department’s practice of stopping and interrogating, without cause, all Hispanic males driving on a particular highway.

There are 3 ways to clear your criminal record:

  • Expungement: Erases arrests and court
    supervisions from your criminal record so it is like
    they never happened. Qualified Probations (see
    definition on Page 16) are only sealed by the State
    Police but are erased by the arresting agency.
  • Sealing: Hides your criminal record from most of the
    public. Law enforcement agencies can still see
    sealed records. Employers required by law to
    conduct background checks can see sealed felony
    convictions. They cannot see sealed misdemeanor
    convictions or cases not resulting in convictions
    unless the employer is a law enforcement agency.
  • Executive Clemency: If you do not qualify for
    expungement or sealing, you can apply for a pardon
    from the Governor forgiving you for your criminal
    convictions. A pardon does not erase or hide your
    conviction on its own. If you get a pardon authorizing
    expungement, you can then apply to have your
    record expunged.
  • Any pending criminal charges; OR
  • Any sentences you have not yet completed,
    including parole, probation, or court supervision; OR
  • Any eligible court supervisions and qualified
    probations where the waiting period for the offense
    has not yet passed.
  • If your criminal record has arrests and charges,
    supervisions or qualified probations that were completed successfully, you can apply to have those criminal records expunged (erased).
  • If there are any convictions on your criminal record
    that are not eligible for expungement, you can apply
    to have eligible records sealed.

The following types of arrests, charges, and sentences
on your criminal record cannot be sealed.
Convictions and supervision for these
misdemeanors and felonies:
• Minor Traffic Offenses
• Driving Offenses
• Domestic Battery
• Sexual Offenses
• Violation of an Order of Protection, Civil No-Contact Order,
or Stalking No-Contact Order
• Animal Offenses
• New felony convictions after you already had felony
convictions sealed. 


PLEASE NOTE: A new felony conviction
after your sealing may result in the unsealing of your
past felony convictions.


Armed robbery is a Class X felony with varying penalties based on the subsection of the law that is violated. A violation of subsection (a)(2), when ‘he or she carries on or about his or her person or is otherwise armed with a firearm’ is a Class X felony for which 15 years shall be added to the term of imprisonment imposed by the court.
A violation of subsection (a)(3), when ‘he or she, during the commission of the offense, personally discharges a firearm’ is a Class X felony for which 20 years shall be added to the term of imprisonment imposed by the court.
A violation of subsection (a)(4) when ‘he or she, during the commission of the offense, personally discharges a firearm that proximately causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, permanent disfigurement, or death to another person.’ is a Class X felony for which 25 years or up to a term of natural life shall be added to the term of imprisonment imposed by the court.

Yes. Arson is a Class 2 felony. Residential arson or place of worship arson is a Class 1 felony. Aggravated arson is a Class X felony.


A person commits vehicular hijacking (car jacking) when he or she knowingly takes a motor vehicle from the person or the immediate presence of another by the use of force or by threatening the imminent use of force. Vehicular hijacking is a Class 1 felony.


Cases originating in the City of Chicago are heard at the George N. Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago, the Fifth Municipal District Court Facility in Bridgeview, and the Second Municipal District Court Facility in Skokie.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office represents the United States in federal cases, meaning they arise from federal law created by Congress. These cases are heard in federal courthouses throughout the country. State and local prosecutors (whether the district attorney, county/city prosecutor, or the state attorney general’s office), by contrast, represent the state for cases arising under state law, created by each state legislature. Occasionally, federal and state law may overlap in a certain area, allowing both federal and state prosecutors to pursue the case.

•  Chicago MCC
•  Chicago RRM
•  Greenville FCI
•  Marion USP
•  Pekin FCI
•  Thomson USP

Drivers under age 21 …………………………………………………………………….. .00

School bus drivers ………………………………………………………………………… .00

Commercial driver’s license holders ……………………………………………… .04

Drivers age 21 and over ………………………………………………………………… .08

If on average, 1 drink = .54 ounces of pure alcohol*, a 170 pound adult male can have up to 4 drinks; a 137 pound adult female can have up to 3 drinks before going over the .08 level.


If the driver refuses to submit to or fails to complete chemical testing, a statutory summary suspension will be imposed. If the driver is a first-time DUI offender, he/she may be eligible for a Monitoring Device Driving Permit. If the driver is a repeat DUI offender, he/she may be eligible for a Restricted Driving Permit (RDP).

The total Average Cost of a DUI Conviction in Illinois is $18,130.

It is illegal for parents or legal guardians to allow persons under age 21 to consume alcoholic beverages on their private property, or on any property under their control or any vehicle or water craft under their control by either allowing the consumption of alcohol or by failing to control access to the alcohol.


LSD: 1 gram
Marijuana: 100 plants/100 kilos
Crack cocaine: 5 grams
Powder cocaine: 500 grams
Heroin: 100 grams
Methamphetamine: 10 grams
PCP: 10 grams

An offense under State law, involving manufacturing, distributing, or possessing with intent to distribute, a controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 USC 802).


Possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs is prohibited by federal law. Strict penalties are provided for drug convictions, including mandatory prison terms for many offenses.

Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote.

720 ILCS 600/3.5(a) Possession of drug paraphernalia – $100


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