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Illinois Lawmakers Trying to Expunge More Juvenile Records

Posted on in BGL Law
Expunging Juvenile Records in IllinoisWhen juveniles are adjudicated of non-violent offenses, their arrest and court records are not meant to follow them into adulthood. Courts use adjudication to discipline someone younger than 18 who has committed an offense, but adjudication of most offenses does not carry the same civil restrictions as an adult criminal conviction. To further distinguish juvenile offenses from adult offenses, juvenile records are sealed from the public. However, Illinois law allows the records to be unsealed if there is an ongoing criminal investigation or imminent threat involving the person. People who can access the sealed juvenile record of an adult include:

  • Law enforcement officials;
  • Prosecutors;
  • Military officials;
  • Child protection investigators;
  • School officials; and
  • Mental health professionals.

People can petition to have their juvenile records expunged once they turn 18, effectively destroying them. While many juvenile records are eligible for expungement, records offices rarely expunge them on their own and might not inform people of their expungement rights. Illinois lawmakers are considering a bill that would automatically expunge more juvenile records and strengthen the protection of sealed records.

Automatic Expungement

The Illinois State Police is required to expunge a juvenile record if no juvenile case was filed and the arrest was for a misdemeanor or class 3 or 4 felony. However, local police departments have no expungement requirements and may keep those same records. The proposed changes to Illinois' Juvenile Court Act would define conditions in which all law enforcement agencies and other record-keeping officials must expunge a juvenile record, including:

  • A year after the arrest, if there have been no charges or subsequent arrests;
  • Sixty business days after a court decision, if the juvenile was not adjudicated or the adjudication was for an offense not greater than a Class B misdemeanor; and
  • Two years after adjudication of most felonies and misdemeanors, if there are no subsequent convictions or pending cases.

Violent crimes such as murder or sex offenses would be exempt from automatic expungement. Law enforcement officials could petition to retain a portion of a record if it is needed for an ongoing investigation.


While members of the public such as news reporters are not allowed to see the names or court records of juvenile delinquents, Illinois law gives courts discretion to make those records public. The proposed bill would take away that discretion so that all juvenile court records must remain sealed. Unauthorized access to the records would be a class C misdemeanor, subject to criminal and civil penalties.

Legal Defense

With limited automatic protections currently available, you need to be proactive in expunging your child's juvenile record. A McHenry County criminal defense attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC can defend your child in court and inform you of how to expunge his or her arrest and court records. Call 815-338-3838 for a free consultation.



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