Do Juvenile Arrests Result in a Criminal Record?

Teenagers can make mistakes that limit their futures for years to come. Skipping class for an afternoon out with friends might affect their grades and keep them out of college. Getting into fights or experimenting with shoplifting might lead to juvenile criminal charges.

While quite a few people assume that juvenile criminal records go away when someone turns 18, that isn’t always the case. Illinois is among the states that will usually seal some of a juvenile defendant’s records when they turn 18.

The more you know about this process and the exceptions to the rules, the better you will be able to protect your teen if they get into trouble with the law.

Illinois will not give the public access to juvenile criminal records

Illinois is one of many states that try to limit the effect of youthful offenses on juveniles when they turn 18. All records of juvenile crimes are generally confidential.

The public usually can’t get copies of juvenile records, although law enforcement officers, judges, military personnel, attorneys and a few others may have the right to ask the state for those otherwise confidential records. Employers or landlords generally will not be able to access juvenile arrest or court records. The same is true of colleges and scholarship programs.

Certain offenses are not confidential

If the alleged criminal offense is a serious one, the state may give the public access to identifying information about the minor and the charges against them.

The offenses that eliminate the confidentiality protection for juvenile offenders include first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, aggravated criminal assault and criminal sexual assault.  Additionally, youthful offenders who are 13 years of age or older involved in gang activity, firearm-related offenses, certain drug offenses and repeat offenses may end someone’s confidentiality rights.

When someone with a juvenile record turns 21 or has gone five years since the end of their juvenile court involvement, they may be able to ask the courts to expunge their records, with the exception of murder and sex offenses that are felonies when committed by adults. Understanding the rules around expungements and records for juvenile offenders can help you better respond to criminal charges.