You’ve never done anything wrong before, but when you did, the crime was a big one. Maybe the cost of the designer jeans you shoplifted upgraded you into felony territory. Or you had just a little too much pot or narcotics on your person to qualify for a misdemeanor.

Under certain circumstances, second chance probation might allow you to avoid the stigma of a criminal record following you for the rest of your life.

As of January 1, 2014, Illinois allows second chance probation to be offered for certain felony offenses. To qualify, you cannot have a past felony conviction or a criminal record involving a violent crime which includes domestic battery, possessing a firearm, sex offenses, stalking or DUI. If your current felony involves violence, a sex offense or DUI, you also would not be eligible. However, for certain Class 3 and Class 4 felonies involving drugs, retail theft or criminal damage to property, there may be light at the end of the tunnel.

Like coupons, you cannot combine these types of leniency programs. If you’ve had second chance probation or a similar program, you may not be eligible again.

Second chance probation is not given automatically. You should still consider retaining an attorney to help you qualify. An attorney can help present your situation in the best possible light to demonstrate that you deserve that second chance.

If you get second chance probation, the judge must sentence you to at least two years of probation. During that time, you cannot violate any criminal statutes or possess a firearm or dangerous weapon. You may also have to repay the victim, pay fines and court costs, perform at least 30 hours of community service, get a job, graduate from high school and submit to drug testing.

If you do complete the program, the case against you will be dismissed, which will enable you to avoid that felony conviction on your record.

If you have questions about this or other related Illinois criminal or traffic charges, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

See Illinois Second Chance Probation Statute.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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