Information About Expungement, Sealing and Records Relief

Why is expungement or other records relief important?

Criminal history records are public information in Illinois. Some employers, landlords, schools and other entities are legally able to make decisions based on a criminal history that includes convictions. The majority of adult criminal history records can be removed from public searches through either expungement or sealing.

It is important to know that there is no automatic expungement of adult arrest or criminal court records in Illinois. Even if you were only arrested and never charged or your case was later dismissed or you were found not guilty, those records all exist until you actively seek to expunge them. For an explanation of the relevant Illinois laws and additional detailed frequently asked questions (FAQs), visit Illinois Legal Aid Online here.

Juvenile records are different because they are always supposed to be confidential (or “sealed”). However, there are exceptions for prospective agencies and employers to still see those records; expungement is the only way to prevent this. Many juvenile records are supposed to be expunged automatically. For an explanation of the relevant Illinois laws and additional detailed FAQs, visit Illinois Legal Aid Online here.

How can I get help with expungement?

Records relief is a civil process, and the Cook County Public Defender’s Office unfortunately cannot help provide this assistance.

There are several organizations that can assist you in evaluating your eligibility for records relief and in applying:

  • For Legal Aid Chicago, click here or call 312-229-6071. 
    • For information on the Juvenile Expungement Help Desk, click here or call 312-229-6072.
    • The Juvenile Expungement Help Desk is located at 1100 S. Hamilton on the ground floor and is open to walk-ins Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • For Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA), click here.
  • The State Appellate Defender also has some online resources available here.