What is Second Chance Probation?

“Second chance probation” is a sentence in Illinois that allows certain offenders to clear a conviction from their record after serving at least two-years of probation (730 ILCS 5/5-6-3.4). This law, which became effective January 1, 2014, allows the court to sentence the defendant to probation without entering a judgement. Those who have previously been convicted (i.e. probation or conditional discharge) of any felony offense are not eligible for this sentence. In addition, this sentence is not available for violent offenders or defendants who have previously plead guilty or who have been found guilty of a violent offense. Second Chance Probation may be offered to defendants charged with certain probationable felony offenses such as possession of a controlled substance, possession of cannabis, theft, retail theft, and criminal damage to property.

When a defendant is sentenced to Second Chance Probation, the court will order a minimum period of 24-months probation and defer any further proceedings. Defendants sentenced to Second Chance Probation, in addition to other conditions, may not violate any criminal statute, may not possess a firearm, must make restitution if required, must obtain or attempt to obtain employment, must pay fines and costs, must attend educational courses, must submit to periodic drug testing, and must perform a minimum of 30 hours of community service.

If successful, the court will discharge the defendant and dismiss the proceedings. The defendant may be eligible for expungement of the arrest after 5 years.

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