Last year, there were about 21,000 juvenile arrests in Illinois. Many of them were for small misdemeanor charges, and in Cook County, about 75 percent of these arrests don’t even result in criminal charges. The problem? Those arrests will stay on their records unless they work through the court system or call a Chicago expungement attorney to get them taken off.
So what does that mean for their futures?
Juveniles with Criminal Records
It’s no secret that having a criminal record can hurt future opportunities. Everything from housing to employment can be affected; it can even be harder to get a college degree.
Mayor Rahm Emmanuel is backing a bill that would automatically expunge these kids’ records—as long as certain conditions are met—and that’s a huge step forward. However, it hasn’t been enacted yet. The bill will clear kids’ records once they turn 18 if:
- At least six months have passed since the arrest and there have been no other arrests during that time
- The arrest wasn’t for a Class 2 or higher felony
- The arrest wasn’t for a sex offense
- The arrest didn’t result in a petition for delinquency being filed with the clerk of the circuit court
While this can seriously improve a young adult’s chances to get a good job, find a suitable place to live, and get into the right school, there are still thousands of other people in Chicago and the surrounding areas who are being held back by juvenile arrest records.
Clearing Your Own Juvenile Record
If you’re one of the thousands of adults whose juvenile record tags along wherever you go, you might be able to do something about it. The first thing you need to do is get your criminal background report and then consult with a Chicago lawyer who deals with expungements and record sealing. The after-effects of an arrest that happened 10, 20 or even 30 years ago can haunt you for the rest of your life; the good news is that you may not have to let them.