In Illinois, a juvenile can have their criminal record expunged, as long as they were not convicted of first-degree murder or a sexual offense which would have considered a felony if they were adults. Having a criminal offense expunged is akin to the incident never having happened at all. The point of allowing a juvenile to expunge their record is to remove the obstacles a criminal record can present when it comes to education, employment, and housing. A new report, however, reveals that just three out of every 1,000 juveniles actually have their records expunged in the state.
The study was conducted by the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission and the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law, at the request of the Illinois General Assembly. According to their report, between the years 2004 through 2014, there were 1.85 million juvenile arrests made in the state, but only 5,310 of those records were expunged.
Most of the expungements took place in Cook County, which had 4,028. The number of juvenile arrests made in Cook County during the study’s time period was 1.2 million. This means only 0.34 percent of the records were expunged. More than 50 percent of the state’s other counties had no expungements at all during the 10-year time period of the study. Most counties averaged less than one juvenile expungement each year.
According to the director of the Justice Center, there are several reasons why many juveniles do not pursue expungement of their records. One of the main concerns is that court and law enforcement officials often fail to tell the individuals that they have this option. Other reasons cited include complicated forms, high fees, and long waiting periods.
In order to improve the current system, recommendations from the study include:
- Expanding expungement eligibility by reducing age limits and waiting periods. The law currently requires them to wait until they are either 18 or 21 years of age (depending on the crime). They must also wait a minimum of five years since the last court proceeding before they can even begin the expungement process;
- Eliminating fees and increasing the use of automatic expungements. The current expungement fees range from $60 to $320 per criminal record (depending on the county);
- Increasing record protection. The commission also recommends that certain legal provisions that allow records can be shared with the general public be eliminated in order to protect a juvenile’s confidentiality. Sanctions would be imposed for those who disclose those records; and
- Providing education to both law enforcement and court clerks in order to become compliant regarding the juvenile expungement laws.
Seek Expungement Assistance
If you have a criminal record and feel that you may qualify for expungement, contact an experienced Wheaton criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Salvatore C. Miglore & Associates at 630-933-8400 today for a free consultation.