Expunging Juvenile Arrest Records in Illinois
Adolescents are notorious for making decisions that they later come to regret. Unfortunately, when those decisions have legal repercussions, regret and reformation may not result in the individual getting a clean slate. Criminal records from prior years as a misbehaving teenager can have severe personal and professional consequences, even for rehabilitated one-time offenders. A new law, effective this year, works to limit the negative effects of juvenile records in employment and education by requiring that, if the case meets certain guidelines, the records be expunged.
The new law, which became effective at the beginning of the year, amends an older statute concerning the destruction of juvenile records. Previously, those with juvenile records could petition the court for expungement, or destruction, of the records only for certain lower-level misdemeanors. A petition could be made after the person turned 18, or when all juvenile court proceedings had ended, whichever was later.
The statute now requires the arrest record, fingerprints, and other documents related to eligible juvenile offenses must automatically be expunged when the minor reaches the age of 18. An “eligible offense” may be expunged under the new law where charges or a delinquency petition were never filed, and in cases where a juvenile was adjudicated delinquent for most misdemeanors and low-level felonies. Non-expungeable offenses include crimes that, if committed by an adult, would be considered a Class 2 felony or higher (like burglary), or a sex crime, including sexual assault and sexual abuse.
The statute further requires that in order to have their records expunged, at least six months must have elapsed without any further arrests since the date of the minor’s last arrest. Furthermore, the Department of State Police is required to allow an individual to use the Access and Review process for establishing that their juvenile records were expunged.
Who Is Eligible?
The new amendment reaches beyond offenses that occurred in the last calendar year. For eligible incidents that occurred no more than 30 years ago and for which all juvenile court proceedings have been terminated, an individual can file a Request for Expungement of Juvenile Law Enforcement Records with the Department of State Police. A person whose circumstances meet these guidelines must give notice by providing a copy of their Request to the arresting agency, the prosecution charged with prosecuting the crime, or the State’s Attorney of the county where the minor was prosecuted.
Having a juvenile record can cause future problems with job and housing applications, enlisting in the military, and enrolling in higher education, and can result in social pressure and personal difficulties as well. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you determine your best legal options. If you or your child has been arrested for or charged with a criminal offense, whether a misdemeanor or a felony, please contact the skilled Naperville criminal defense attorneys at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC for a free initial consultation.