If a child is arrested or has police contact before they turn 18 in Illinois, they likely have a juvenile record. These records contain police reports, computer correspondence and any court documents created when a child is suspected or charged with a crime.
Since 2018, the Illinois State Police must erase some – but not all – of these records once a person turns 18. Records not automatically removed can still qualify for expungement in some instances, but you must know the date of the arrest, the charge and the outcome of the arrest.
Don’t confuse expunged and sealed records
In Illinois, all juvenile records are automatically sealed and remain confidential, meaning members of the public can’t see them without a court order. However, some government agencies and employers can still access these records.
Expungement is the process of of going to court and asking a judge to erase a juvenile’s record. Once the judge approves the request, it’s like the documents never existed, which can help these individuals avoid serious repercussions later on.
What records are automatically expunged?
Many documents can be erased regardless of whether a conviction resulted. These cases include:
- Arrests not resulting in charges: These records can be expunged one year after the arrest date, as long as no other arrests or charges have occurred in the previous six months.
- Dismissed charges or cases: Records for withdrawn charges, those resulting in a finding of “not delinquent” or those from successfully-completed supervision orders for findings of guilt in Class B or C misdemeanors, petty crimes or business offenses can be erased once all court proceedings are completed.
- Non-violent crimes: Arrest and court records from Class A misdemeanor or felony cases where a guilty plea or conviction resulted can be expunged as long as the crime did not contain an element or threat of violence. Two years must pass from the time the case was closed, no other cases can be pending, and no other guilty findings can exist in juvenile or adult court.
Many other charges are not eligible for automatic expungement, but petitions can be made by filing a Request for Juvenile Record Expungement form.
Don’t let a juvenile record jeopardize the future
Nearly 1 million juveniles are arrested each year in the United States, and many times good kids make bad mistakes that should not ruin the rest of their lives. Having a juvenile record can jeopardize a young person’s chances for student loans and a college education, getting a good job, finding a home and gaining state certification for certain fields, such as teaching and medicine.
It’s crucial to make sure those records are sealed, and when possible, expunged. An experienced expungement attorney understands how the process works, which documents can be erased and, most importantly, diligently work to help your child start their adult years with a clean slate.