Juvenile Charges Can Have Far-Reaching Impacts
A wild youth, it seems, no longer is enough of an explanation for juvenile criminal charges. These days, such charges can have long-term consequences, even when they seem to be minor offenses. Such consequences can include losing financial aid for college, keeping you from being accepted to graduate school, or even finding a good job after college. For instance, a juvenile conviction on drug charges, however minor, could keep you from receiving federal student assistance, including loans, scholarships, grants, or participation in federally sponsored work-study programs. You could even lose your eligibility for privately funded assistance, including scholarships and other forms of financial aid from colleges and universities, because of youth offenses.
Juvenile Offenses Are Not Sealed From Everyone
You might think that records of juvenile offenses are sealed from view. This is a common misconception, but it is, alas, a misconception. Most juvenile charges are sealed as a privacy matter. However, that records seal does not prevent everyone from viewing juvenile criminal records. In fact, a number of categories of people and entities are allowed to view sealed juvenile records. These entities include:
- Law enforcement. However, the agency may view a juvenile record only if it is vital to obtaining an arrest warrant or search warrant, or if access is necessary in some other way for an ongoing investigation.
- Judges and other officers supervised or appointed by the court. Even then, access to juvenile records must be necessary for those individuals to perform their essential duties, including hearing officers, prosecutors, probation officers, social workers, and other court employees.
- Victims and their legal counsel
- Any other party given access by special order of the court, including members of the news media, individuals conducting research, or individuals or agencies operating substance abuse programs.
Potential employers, particularly those requiring a security clearance, also likely would be granted access to juvenile criminal records. Privacy concerns aside, juvenile criminal records are nowhere near as sealed as you might think.
It is Possible to Have Juvenile Charges Expunged From Your Record
To have a juvenile record expunged is the equivalent of having it erased—once a record is expunged, it is as if it never happened. No one can see the juvenile record, because it no longer exists. Some juvenile records are automatically expunged. Such records include:
- Records of any arrest that does not lead to charges being filed, so long as that arrest was at least one year ago and there have been no other arrests in the last six months
- Cases that are dismissed, that result in a finding of the juvenile being not delinquent, or that required court-ordered supervision, so long as that supervision was completed
- Convictions of a juvenile on charges of a Class B or C misdemeanor, or a petty or business offense, and
- Convictions of a juvenile of a Class A misdemeanor or a nonviolent felony if the case was closed at least two years ago, there are no further cases pending, and the juvenile has no subsequent convictions on any charges.
For any other arrests, charges or convictions that are not eligible for automatic expungement, juveniles must file a petition with the court to get their records expunged. Even then, the records of some crimes, including first-degree murder and a number of sex crimes, cannot be expunged.
How Do I Petition to Expunge Juvenile Records?
Illinois has a process for petitioning the court to expunge juvenile criminal records. Depending on what offenses are on your record, there are different forms you will have to file. Expect complications—you’re best off hiring an attorney to do the following for you.
- First, you must get a report of your arrest history, which must include any law enforcement agency that arrested you. You also can obtain the pertinent information on any charges and disposition of those charges form the clerk of the circuit court instead.
- Next, because there are two different petitions you can file, depending upon your arrest history, you can either consult the state guide to the process or the circuit clerk might be able to help you. It’s probably best to consult the guide first. Regardless of which of the two forms you have to file, you will need to file a separate petition regarding every arrest that appears on your arrest history.
- Third, you must complete and file three court forms for each arrest. These are known as a petition, a notice, and an order, and they must be filed in the Circuit Court for the county where you were arrested. Essentially, these forms ask the court to expunge your criminal record. You take the completed forms, available online or from the circuit clerk, to the circuit clerk in the county in which you were arrested. Once again, you will pay a fee, although the fee can be waived if you cannot afford it. When you file the forms, ask the clerk when a hearing will be set for your case.
After that, you wait. The state police, the agency that arrested you and the prosecutor who handled your case will be notified. They have 45 days to object to your petition. After 45 days, you should talk to the clerk to see where your case stands.
If no one objects, the court can expunge your record. If there is an objection, the court will hold a hearing. Either way, if your request is granted, you once again will have to pay fees, via the clerk, to the court, the state police and the police agency that arrested you to expunge your record. Again, the fees can be waived, but you must ask the court to do so.
What About Automatic Expungement?
Arrest and court records will be automatically expunged in the following cases:
- Arrests that did not result in charges. The expungement will happen one year after the arrest. It must be six months after any later arrests or charges.
- Arrest and court records of cases if they result in:
- Finding of “not delinquent.”
- Order of supervision that is terminated successfully
- Finding of guilt for a Class B or C misdemeanor or petty or business offense.
- Finding of guilt for a Class A misdemeanor or non-violent felony. Expungement will happen two years after a case closes. Must be no other pending cases or guilty findings.
You can make sure the automatic expungement has worked by having your lawyer contact the law enforcement agency that arrested you. There should be no record of your arrest after the expungement process.
If you are not eligible for automatic expungement, you can still petition the court to expunge your record.
If You Need to Expunge Juvenile Criminal Records in DuPage, Kane, or Cook County, Consult the Experienced Criminal Attorneys of Martin & Kent, L.L.C.
If you have juvenile criminal records that you want to expunge, talk to the criminal attorneys of Martin & Kent, L.L.C. They have a combined 45 years of experience and can help you with the process. For a consultation about a case in DuPage, Kane, or Cook County, contact them 24 hours a day at (630) 474-8000.