Expunging a Juvenile Record

Juvenile Court Expungement is a court process that forces the police and court system to keep juvenile criminal record from public view, including from most employers. However, to have your record expunged you must file a Petition to Expunge with the court and appear before a judge for a hearing. At the Law Offices of Winer & Winer we have a great deal of experienced in handling juvenile expungement petitions and would be happy to put our experience to work on your behalf. We have also been successful in early terminating Sex Offender Registration on cases where the registration was required because of a Juvenile Court case.

What are Juvenile Records?

Juvenile records are the police reports, computer database entries, and court documents that are created when a person under age 18 is accused of a crime. Every time a person is arrested, even if they are a teenager, a record is created.

Juvenile records do not include things that happen after a person turns 18, or that were heard in adult court or traffic court, including DUIs.

There are two types of records that may be created when a juvenile is arrested

  • Arrest records
  • Court records

Whenever a person is arrested, arrest records are made and kept by:

  • The arresting law enforcement agency
  • The Illinois State Police

Are All Arrests On My Juvenile Court Record?

Yes, you have a juvenile record even if:

  • You were arrested but never charged;
  • Your case was dismissed;
  • You were acquitted, found not delinquent, or not guilty;
  • You were convicted, found delinquent or guilty, and it was reversed; or
  • You were sentenced to supervision or probation.

Aren’t Juvenile Records Already Hidden?

This depends. All law enforcement and court records in juvenile court are confidential under the law. This means that juvenile records can only be shared under certain circumstances. However, there are many exceptions to the general rule of confidentiality. Expunging juvenile records is the only way to make sure that others cannot see the records.

Effective January 1, 2018, all juvenile records that have not been expunged will be sealed automatically. As such, Juvenile records will not be shown to the general public or made widely available except in some cases. Sealed records will be shown only if there is good cause. Also, a juvenile court judge will have to order the records to be unsealed for anyone who is not authorized to see them. Anyone who is not authorized and reveals a sealed juvenile record can be sued and fined $1,000.

Local law enforcement agencies are only required to report juvenile arrests to the State Police if the arrest concerned an offense that would have been a felony if committed by an adult. They are permitted to report some misdemeanor arrests and have no guidance on the lowest level misdemeanor arrests. As a result, only about one quarter of juvenile arrests end up being reported to the State Police. Whenever a juvenile is arrested, the local enforcement agency creates an arrest record and in some cases, may report the arrest to the State Police, leading to the creation of a second arrest record.

Juvenile arrest records include:

  • All arrests before you turn 17
  • Records from 2010-2013, arrests for misdemeanors before you turned 18
  • Starting in 2014, all arrests before you turn 18

When Can Juvenile Records Be Expunged?

Different types of juvenile records can be expunged at different times.

Once the case is closed

You used to have to wait until your 18th birthday to file to expunge any part of your juvenile record. As of January 1st, 2017, some juvenile records are eligible to be expunged as soon as the matter is closed, even if you are not 18 at that time.

The situations where you can expunge a juvenile record as soon as the case is closed are as follows:

  • You were arrested and never went before a judge (this includes informal and formal station adjustments, and some diversion programs);
  • A juvenile case was filed, and the charges were dismissed;
  • A juvenile case was filed, and you were found not guilty;
  • A juvenile case was filed, you were found guilty of charges, and you were sentenced to “supervision,” which you finished; or
  • A juvenile case was filed, and you were found guilty of a Class B or C misdemeanor offense (for example, mob action or disorderly conduct).

Waiting period for Juvenile expungement

Sometimes there is a waiting period before you can expunge a juvenile record.

If you were arrested as a juvenile, a case for a Class A misdemeanor or felony offense (not including exceptions above) was filed against you, and you were found guilty of that offense, you are eligible to expunge that record under the following circumstances:

  • You have turned 21 years old, or it has been 5 years since the date your sentence was completed (whichever is later); and
  • You have not been convicted of any offenses (including misdemeanors) since you turned 18. If you have been convicted as an adult, you are never eligible to expunge any findings of guilty for Class A misdemeanors, or felony offenses, from your juvenile record.

Never

If you were found guilty of murder or a felony sex offense in juvenile court, those records are never eligible to be expunged. If you are required to register as a sex offender for a juvenile case, you may be able ask a judge to order you off the sex offender registry.

What About Automatic Expungement?

The automatic expungement law, which became effective on January 1, 2015, applies to arrest records that are only held by the Illinois State Police.

After making a juvenile arrest, local police departments are required to report some arrests to the Illinois State Police. Since the local departments also keep a record, there can be multiple places where a record is kept. The law removes some of the records from the Illinois State Police files without any petition to the court.

The Illinois State Police will only automatically remove these records if:

  • A juvenile has been arrested for a misdemeanor, or Class 3 or 4 felony offense,
  • No juvenile cases are filed, and
  • The juvenile is not arrested again for 6 months.

The original records that were created and held by local police departments still remain. Even if this provision applies to you, you must still petition the juvenile court to expunge your juvenile record to remove the records from the local police department.

Beginning January 1, 2018, the law will change. The court will automatically expunge your arrests that do not go to court. Your juvenile records will also be automatically expunged if you go to court and is not found to be delinquent. If you are found to be delinquent, the court will automatically expunge your record after 2 years as long as you are not found to be delinquent in another case.

What If This Is My First Offense?

If you are found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor offense in juvenile court, and it is your first offense, then you are eligible to expunge this juvenile record on your 18th birthday if your lawyer makes a motion during your case. If you or a family member have a pending juvenile case, talk to your lawyer about whether or not this provision of the law applies.

What Happens When My Juvenile Record is Expunged?

Once the judge has entered an expungement order for your eligible juvenile records, you should make sure you have a copy of that signed expungement order for your records. You will receive notice from the Illinois State Police when the expungement of the records has happened. Until you receive that notice, you should assume that the record is still available and not fully expunged.

How Long is the Juvenile Expungement Process?

After submitting a petition for expungement, there is a 45-day period during which law enforcement or the state’s attorney’s office can object. Whether there is an objection to an expungement petition or not, the petitioner must wait through the entire 45-day objection period before any further action can be taken. A hearing may be held after the 45-day period to determine whether or not expungement is appropriate. If the petitioner receives a court hearing date when the expungement petition is filed, then the petitioner must attend the hearing. If expungement is granted, it may take at least 60-90 days for the court, arresting agency, and the Illinois State Police to comply with the expungement order.

Beginning January 1, 2018, the law will change. The court will automatically expunge juvenile arrests that do not go to court. Juvenile records will also be automatically expunged if the juvenile goes to court and is not found to be delinquent. If the juvenile is found to be delinquent, the court will automatically expunge the record after 2 years.

Who Can See My Juvenile Record After It Is Expunged?

When your record is expunged, the physical copies of your record are destroyed, and your name is removed from any index. However, even after a juvenile record is expunged, certain agencies can still access your record if you apply to work for them, including:

  • Law enforcement agencies
  • The Department of Corrections
  • The military
  • The State’s Attorney and other prosecutors can review your juvenile record if you are charged with a new crime.

Law enforcement agencies cannot see your expunged record unless you’re applying to work for them.

Immigration officials may also have access to expunged records, or see that you had an arrest expunged, but may not be able to see the details of that arrest. Speak to an immigration attorney about how getting an arrest expunged could impact one’s immigration status.

Do I Have to Tell Employers about My Juvenile Record?

While many potential employers cannot get direct access to your juvenile record, they may still ask you about juvenile arrests or adjudications that you haven’t expunged yet. Employers are also not prevented from seeking other sources of information to confirm arrests or adjudications, even when they cannot get access to the juvenile record directly.

However, employers may not ask about expunged juvenile arrests or adjudications, and if asked, an individual may legally respond as if the events never occurred.

Beginning January 1, 2018, the law about getting a professional license if you have a juvenile record will change. An agency will not be able to deny your application for a professional license if the decision is based only on the fact that you have a juvenile record.

The rules for reporting a juvenile record are different from reporting an adult criminal record.

Will Expunging My Juvenile Record Help My Immigration Case?

No, expunged juvenile records may still be seen and considered by immigration officials. If you are not a US citizen, you should talk to an immigration lawyer before trying to expunge your juvenile record.

Sex Offender Registration

In cases where a juvenile is adjudicated a delinquent minor for a qualified sex offense, a juvenile must register as a sex offender as if it were an adult case. However, a juvenile can terminate sex offender registration early, something unavailable in an adult case. If the sex offense is one that would be a felony if charged as an adult, a juvenile can seek to terminate sex offender registration no less than five years after the start of the registration. If the charge would have been a misdemeanor if charged against an adult, a juvenile can see to terminate the registration two years after the registration is order. At the Law Offices of Winer & Winer we have successfully terminated juvenile sex offender registration early. So please contact us so we can put our experience to work for you.