How to Obtain Certificates of Innocence in Illinois

A man was found guilty in Illinois of one count of being an armed habitual criminal and three counts of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. He was sentenced to six years in prison, an additional three years of mandatory supervised release, and a concurrent sentence of years for the weapons charge. He appealed his conviction, and the appellate court found that the court violated the one-act one-crime rule. The man petitioned the court to vacate his armed habitual criminal conviction, arguing that the offense it was predicated on was ruled unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court.

Seeking a Certificate of Innocence

If you have been wrongly accused and convicted of a crime, you have a right to file a Petition for Certificate of Actual Innocence. The certificate will remove the conviction from your record and indicate you should not have a record. Pursuing a certificate of innocence is an important first step towards justice. If granted, you can also bring a claim for damages against the state of Illinois.

Meeting the Requirements for a Certificate of Innocence

Section 2-702 of the Illinois Criminal Code outlines the requirements for seeking a certificate of innocence (COI). To obtain a COI, a person needs to prove multiple elements by a preponderance of the evidence. Specifically, a person must prove that he or she “is innocent of the offenses charged in the indictment or information or his or her acts or omissions charged in the indictment or information did not constitute a felony or misdemeanor against the State.”

In the case mentioned above, the state argued that the man was innocent of being an armed habitual criminal. However, they did not grant him the COI for the charge of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, claiming that he was still found guilty for that charge. They contended that he was innocent of being an armed habitual criminal but not innocent of the offense charged in the indictment. The man argued that the certificate should be issued when a petitioner is innocent of the criminal charges he was incarcerated for. Since he was only incarcerated for the armed habitual criminal charge, and the other charges were vacated, the certificate should be issued.

The appellate court ruled in favor of the state. They reasoned that since he had been found going on three counts of UUWF, he could not make a showing that he was innocent of all of the offenses charged in the indictment. In short, the court ruled that he could not receive a COI for charges for which he had been found guilty, even though the court later vacated them.

Contact an Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been wrongfully convicted of a crime in Illinois, you may have a right to pursue a certificate of innocence. At Glasgow & Olsson, our award-winning criminal defense lawyers have a proven track record of success in many high-profile state and federal criminal cases. Contact Glasgow & Olsson today to schedule your initial consultation to learn how our legal team can fight for your rights if you have been charged with a crime.

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