Expungement: Juvenile Arrest/Delinquency Records Illinois, if you have been arrested as a minor (17 or younger) or adjudicated “delinquent” in juvenile court, you are eligible to expunge your record, provided that you have not committed a crime of violence (e.g., murder, sex crime) or had your case transferred to adult criminal court for prosecution (meaning that you were tried as an adult even though you were 17 years old or younger).

If you have a juvenile record and are later convicted of a crime in adult criminal court, you no longer have the right to expunge certain kinds of juvenile records. If you were adjudicated delinquent for a class A misdemeanor or a felony, these records are not eligible for expungement once you have an adult conviction (misdemeanor or felony).

The rules for juvenile expungement differ from those for adult expungement.  Adults are not permitted to expunge convictions.  A juvenile, however, can expunge a “delinquency” finding.  A “delinquency” finding is similar but not identical to being found “guilty” as an adult in criminal court.

Since 2015, some juvenile records are now automatically expunged from the Illinois State Police’s criminal database. Automatic expungement occurs in the absence of any action taken by the minor to remove his or her record. Automatic expungement only applies to individuals who: 1) have a juvenile arrest record (and no accompanying court record), and 2) have never been adjudicated delinquent.

As of January 1, 2017, you are eligible to expunge your juvenile record once all court proceedings have ended if the following circumstances apply:

  1. You were arrested but never went to court because no petition for delinquency was by the State’s Attorney (i.e., you received a “station adjustment”);
  2. A petition for delinquency was filed but was later dismissed by the judge without a finding of delinquency on the charges;
  3. A petition for delinquency was filed, the judge sentenced you to “supervision,” and the period of court supervision was completed successfully; or
  4. You were adjudicated delinquent for a minor offense (e.g., Class B or C misdemeanor, petty or business offense).

If you were adjudicated delinquent for a Class A misdemeanor or a felony, you are not eligible to expunge your juvenile record until the last of these events occurs:

  1. You turn 21 years old, OR
  2. Five (5) years after the conclusion of all juvenile proceedings.

As in expungement of adult arrest records, it is up to a judge whether to grant a juvenile expungement petition. Court hearings are usually held before the judge decides whether to grant a petition for juvenile expungement.

Unlike adult criminal records, juvenile arrest and court records in Illinois are subject to strict guidelines on who can view them. Juvenile records that are not expunged are sealed as a matter of law and, in only limited circumstances, made available to the public.

The press, on behalf of the public, can petition the juvenile court to release juvenile records involving delinquency adjudications for serious crimes (e.g., murder, sex offenses), provided that the minor was at least 13 years old at the time he/she committed the offense.

One exception to the rule that juvenile records are not available to the public is when a minor is ticketed or charged under a city’s municipal code or local ordinance. Particularly when the individual is a teen or young adult and the misconduct is minor (e.g., criminal trespass, disorderly conduct, possession of a small amount of marijuana), police can opt to issue charges under the city’s local ordinance. Depending on the city, these charges can be resolved in one of two ways: 1) through an internal administrative hearing process held at the city (where no public record is created), or 2) through the state court system (where a public record is created, notwithstanding the minor’s age).

Prior to Jan. 1, 2010, the Illinois State Police reported juvenile arrests to the FBI. If you were arrested as a juvenile prior to Jan. 1, 2010 and have not expunged your record, it is likely that your juvenile record will be disclosed in the event you have required to undergo a FBI criminal background check.  Individuals seeking employment in the financial services industry (e.g., banking, securities), industries that are subject to U.S. Department of Homeland Security oversight (airlines, businesses associated with air travel), or in the federal government, are likely to be fingerprinted.

In summary, there are several reasons why it is just as beneficial to expunge one’s juvenile record as it is to expunge one’s adult record, notwithstanding the fact juvenile records are not as publicly accessible and questions pertaining to whether someone has a juvenile record are largely forbidden. Today, it is difficult to control what personal or embarrassing information gets released to the public. That’s why your best defense is a good offense: expunge it.