When juveniles get in trouble with the law, all police and court records are supposed to be sealed. Then, when these children turn 18, they should enter adulthood with a clean record, right? Actually, it is not that simple.
The Juvenile Justice System Creates a Lot of Records
Anyone under the age of 18 who breaks the law in Illinois is processed through the juvenile justice system. This process creates a lot of records. The police will have an arrest report, transcripts of interviews, investigation notes, and even fingerprints and photographs of the minor. The local court will have records of charges filed, hearings held, and the final disposition of each case. The Illinois State Police also maintains records of all juvenile arrests and convictions, including mandatory fingerprint cards (effective January 1, 2000) for minors age 10 and up arrested on felony charges.
There will always be an arrest record, at a minimum, even if all charges are dismissed, or if a juvenile successfully completes a period of court supervision and thus avoids having a conviction on their record.
Any Record that Exists Has the Potential to Be Exposed
Juvenile records are sealed, which means the records cannot be viewed by the general public, the way adult criminal records can. But even sealed juvenile records can still be accessed by a variety of government agencies that have “good cause” to see them, including but not limited to law enforcement, the courts, probation officers, the military, and the Secretary of State (for vehicle code offenses). Realistically, any record that exists has the potential to be released, whether by mistake or by malicious intent.
Expungement Ensures that Juvenile Records are Physically Destroyed
The process of expungement will cause all physical records related to a juvenile offense to be destroyed, and the juvenile can go forward in life as if those events never happened and those records never existed. The only records that cannot be expunged are those where a juvenile was found guilty of first-degree murder or a felony sex offense.
Starting in 2018, Illinois began requiring the sautomatic expungement of many juvenile records. However, keep in mind that government agencies may not be perfect in their execution, and some records are not, in fact, eligible for automatic expungement. Therefore, to be sure all juvenile records are destroyed, and to get it done sooner than would happen under the automatic process, an individual can petition the circuit court for expungement. In particular, a juvenile found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor or any type of felony, such as shoplifting or drug possession, will want to pursue a petition for expungement.
Trust an Experienced Joliet Juvenile Expungement Attorney
If you or your child were ever arrested or adjudicated delinquent (the juvenile equivalent of an adult conviction of a crime) prior to reaching age 18, then you have cause to be concerned about any surviving juvenile records. You should contact a knowledgeable Will County juvenile expungement lawyer as soon as possible. The Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba will help you determine what records exist and where you need to file a petition for expungement. Contact us at 815-740-4025 for a free and confidential consultation.