Expungement and Sealing

Most juveniles arrested by police are not threats to public safety and are unlikely to come in contact with police again, and even most juveniles with repeat delinquency adjudications will change their behaviors as they mature. In short, nearly all maturing young people abandon their adolescent misbehavior, but the record of their past acts can follow them far into life and be a barrier to becoming a productive citizen.

In recognition of the unfairness of life-long juvenile records, Illinois law does allow individuals to seal or expunge their records. To help young people wipe their records clean, CFJC attorneys and students help guide them through the maze of requirements. CFJC helps locate records qualifying for expungement, completes paperwork to submit to court, prepares youth for expungement hearings and attends court hearings to be certain their rights are protected.

Until recently, eligibility for expungement has been so restrictive and the process so complicated and expensive that very few records have been expunged. Fewer than one in 1,000 juvenile arrests were expunged in the past decade, according to a 2016 Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission report, which was based on research conducted in partnership with the Children and Family Justice Center.

The report — “Burdened for Life: The Myth of Juvenile Record Confidentiality and Expungement in Illinois” — included recommendations for reform and was published at the direction of a resolution adopted by the Illinois General Assembly.

In 2017, the General Assembly passed legislation containing several of those recommendations. House Bill 3817, which was signed into law and is now Public Act 100-0285, streamlines the process of expunging juvenile arrests and strengthens protections of confidentiality of juvenile records.

Find fact sheet about Public Act 100-0285 »