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What is an Illinois Criminal Record?

Criminal records in Illinois are official documents that detail the types and natures of crimes a person has committed. Commonly known as rap sheets, criminal records cover all known criminal activity of an individual that the criminal justice system in Illinois has processed. This record typically includes everything from arrest data, indictments, pending and past dispositions to finalized convictions and post-conviction status. The information in these records is gathered from all levels of government within the state’s jurisdiction. Although Illinois criminal records are not the only police records available to the public, they are the most comprehensive.

Are Criminal Records Public In Illinois?

Yes, residents can gain access to Illinois public records. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) establishes the fact that all documents kept by any government agency in Illinois are public records. This means that the public has access to them, except when stated by law. Certain criminal records can be sealed, and information is not available at the local level if the record has been sealed or expunged. Illinois public criminal records typically contain the following information on a convicted criminal.

  • Full name including aliases
  • Birthdate 
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Fingerprints and mugshots
  • Identification features like height, weight, body markings, and tattoos
  • Previous and current/pending indictments
  • Arrest records, outstanding warrants, 
  • Incarceration information if applicable
  • Post-conviction information if applicable

How To Obtain Criminal Records In Illinois

Illinois criminal records are kept in offline and online record depositories. These publicly available criminal records can be accessed through the  Illinois Bureau of Identification in person or via mail requests. It is also possible to perform an online criminal record search on the Criminal History Information Response Process (CHIRP) page. Whichever way the requester chooses, the Bureau charges fees for accessing criminal records. Nevertheless, requesters who qualify for a fee waiver may perform a free public criminal record check. The government agency typically grants this waiver if releasing the criminal record does not serve commercial purposes.

Criminal records, considered public in the United States, are made available through some third-party aggregate sites. Searching with third-party websites is often easier as the information is not limited to geographic record availability. Information found on third-party websites can serve as a jumping off point for parties searching for a specific record or multiple records. Typically, requesters must provide the following information to gain access to these records:

  • The record subject’s name, unless the subject is a juvenile.
  • The record subjects’ last known location, including cities, counties, and states.

Third-party websites offer these search services, but they are not government sponsored. Availability of records may vary.

What Are Arrest Records In Illinois?

Arrest records are created when a person is taken into custody by agents of law enforcement and contain details on the individual arrested, as well as why they were arrested and where they were taken. Although arrest records list all the times that law enforcement has taken a person into custody, arrest records cannot replace criminal records because the account of events does not provide definitive proof of guilt. Furthermore, some arrests take place but have no mandatory incarceration despite a person being fined in the form of a ticket or citation.

An arrest record will usually contain the following information about the arrest, the arresting party, and the person arrested.

  • Personal information on the arrestee, including a name, birth date, and gender
  • The date when and place where the arrest took place
  • The name, report, and rank of the arresting officer
  • The name of the jail, prison, or detention center an arrestee was held while processed
  • The name and title of the arrest warrant issuer if applicable

Are Arrest Records Public In Illinois?

Yes. Access to public arrest records is a statutory right in Illinois. However, there are limitations. For instance, in cases where an arrest is part of an active criminal investigation or releasing the arrest record would compromise security and privacy, law enforcement can sequester the arrest record from unauthorized access. The public can request Illinois arrest records through an arrest search. However, the record custodian will not release the actual document until disclosing detailed information regarding the arrest. Free arrest records are possible to obtain, but search fees may apply.

What Is An Arrest Warrant In Illinois?

Arrest warrants in Illinois are court-issued documents that detail the events that led up to, occurred, and will occur when an arrest happens. Arrest warrants are usually issued following a request from law enforcement agents or a district attorney that believe they have enough evidence to convict an individual of a crime. Court authorities issue warrants like judges and magistrates. The purpose of a warrant is to allow the police to arrest a person suspected of committing a crime, given direct evidence or circumstantial evidence.

Of course, law enforcement can still make arrests without warrants. However, such arrests happen in instances when the police officer witnessed the crime. Interested persons may see active warrants in a jurisdiction by performing an active warrant search on the law enforcement agency website. If the agency does not maintain an online database for active warrants, the individual must visit the agency in person to perform a warrant search.

Arrest warrants in Illinois typically contain:

  • The details of an alleged criminal offense
  • The personal information of the suspect
  • The time allotted and place where the arrest may take place
  • The expiration date should one exist
  • The date the warrant was issued, and the name and title of the issuer
  • Any bond or bail conditions, if applicable

What Is The Illinois Sex Offender Registry?

The Illinois sex offender registry is an online list of registered sex offenders meant to notify the public of the whereabouts and existence of potentially dangerous individuals in their area. These listings were developed as part of a federal mandate following the introduction of Megan’s Law. Sex offender registries in this state feature the names, locations, and crimes of sex offenders in specific jurisdictions across the state.

Sex offender registries are available online for easier distribution to the public, who may conduct their own research on these individuals as they deem appropriate. When a sex offender in Illinois changes residence, they must notify the local sheriff’s department that they may update the local registry. In this way, the purpose of the sex offender registry is fulfilled in that members of the public are made aware of an individual that has earned their freedom but may theoretically still pose a threat to their neighbors.

What Are DUIs In Illinois?

According to the Illinois Vehicle Code, the Illinois DUI offense is a serious traffic violation wherein offenders under the influence of a substance are in control of motor vehicles. Besides defining what constitutes a DUI, the Illinois Vehicle Code also sets measurable physical and chemical criteria for identifying an impaired driver. Generally, drunk driving is determined when law enforcement conducts field sobriety tests and chemical tests that measure the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). Officers perform this test if an officer deems the driver impaired after a traffic stop.

Usually, a driver with a BAC above 0.08 will be charged with drunk driving in Illinois. Notwithstanding, a driver with a BAC lower than 0.08 can still face DUI charges under certain circumstances, such as an open alcohol container or a minor in the motor vehicle.

Following an arrest for DUI, the Office of Illinois Secretary of State assigns penalty points to the driver’s license. The Office shall also temporarily suspend the driver’s license pending an administrative review and court hearing. Per the Illinois Vehicle Code, the penalties for DUI in the state range from fines to completing a defensive driving course and mandatory jail sentence.   

What Are Inmate Records?

Jail and inmate records in Illinois are documents that show details on a person who entered the Illinois Department of Corrections system. These include inmates at both county and municipal jails and state prisons. They are generated by the jurisdictions where the prisoner was housed and often managed by the incarceration facility where they were assigned following their guilty sentence. Illinois maintains an inmate search database to help people find where these convicted criminals are held and what services are available to them, their family members, and their loved ones. Information commonly found in the inmate lookup platform include:

  • The full name and any known aliases of an inmate
  • The details of the offense committed
  • Any personal data pertaining to the individual, such as birthdate, gender, physical attributes, and more
  • The date of their entry into prison or jail and the prospective date of release
  • The address of the incarceration facility and the security level of that facility
  • Any past convictions and sentences
  • Any bail or bond conditions

What Are Misdemeanors vs Felonies In Illinois?

Illinois misdemeanors are minor criminal offenses and other offenses that are considered less serious than a felony. In Illinois, these offenses are classified by a letter grade from Class A Misdemeanors to Class C Misdemeanors. Class A is more serious, while Class C is the least serious. These crimes carry punishments that mostly rely on fines and other punishments like community service. In cases where jail time is called for, misdemeanors in Illinois rarely exceed one year of imprisonment.

  • Class A misdemeanors in Illinois can be punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Common Class A misdemeanors are aggravated assault, domestic battery, criminal sexual abuse, and DUIs.
  • Class B misdemeanors in Illinois can be punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,500. Common Class B misdemeanors are speeding while driving in excess of 25 miles per hour over the speed limit, criminal trespassing, possession of marijuana in an amount between 2.5 grams and 10 grams, and window peeping (also known as peeping tom.)
  • Class C misdemeanors in Illinois can be punishable by up to a month in jail, and a fine of up to $1,500. Common Class C misdemeanors include assault, disorderly conduct at a funeral or memorial service, and educational intimidation.

Illinois felonies are considered more serious crimes that are often punishable with a minimum of jail time in addition to fines and other supplementary punishments. Illinois was the 16th state to repeal the death penalty, though for serious crimes it does employ life sentences.

Felonies in Illinois are divided into six (6) categories called classes. Class 4 felonies are considered the least serious, followed by classes 3, 2, and 1. A fifth class is called Class X and is considered the most serious type of crime in the state outside of first-degree murder which is a special 6th class of felony. The punishments for each of these classes, as well as what constitutes each one is:

  • First-degree murders are considered Class X felonies of the highest degree. They are no longer punished by the death penalty but instead by life imprisonment. The punishment for this crime can be aggravated by factors such as age or status as a member of law enforcement. It can also be mitigated by factors such as mental status or intoxication during the events of the crime.
  • Class X felonies in Illinois are punishable by between 6 and 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. Class X felonies include armed robbery, aggravated kidnapping, home invasion, and possession of between 15 and 100 grams of a controlled substance with intent to deliver while within 1,000 feet of a public park or housing, church, or school.
  • Class 1 felonies in Illinois are punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. Class 1 felonies include criminal sexual assault, possession of heroin, cocaine, and opioids, and theft of property valued at between $10,000 and $100,000.
  • Class 2 felonies in Illinois are punishable by up to 7 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. Class 2 felonies include arson, burglary, possession of a stolen gun, and kidnapping.
  • Class 3 felonies in Illinois are punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. Class 3 felonies include incest-related crimes, forgery, criminal abortion, and aggravated battery.
  • Class 4 felonies in Illinois are punishable by up to 1 year in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. Class 4 felonies include computer fraud, financial exploitation of the elderly or disabled, eavesdropping, false fire alarms or police reports, and mob action.

What Is Probation And Parole In Illinois?

Parole in Illinois is granted to inmates that have fulfilled statutory requirements such as good behavior and convicted criminals instead of jail time. This applies to people who were found guilty, pleaded guilty, or pleaded no contest against criminal charges and were granted parole. Parole violation may lead to rearrest.

Parole is granted by the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, which is an independent body with members appointed by the Governor of Illinois. This board imposes release conditions for any convicted criminals that exit penal facilities revokes and grants good conduct credits for inmates. The Parole Board also notifies victims and their families when an inmate is going to be released from custody. They also provide information on paroles and paroled people.

Illinois probation records are documents that show when a convicted person is allowed to serve their sentences outside the confines of a correctional facility while under supervision. Probation records in Illinois feature the details of the indictment, including any criminal offense, the date of the judgment, and the personal data of the probated person. These records are maintained and organized by the Illinois Court System under the probation services division.

Sentences for probation violations differ, and individual sentences will likely vary. The length of time and the conditions and parameters of the probation agreement are usually determined by the crime and discretion of the judge. Some probation sentences are strict and intensively supervised, while others allow the convicted criminal to maintain their normal business.

What Are Illinois Juvenile Criminal Records?

Illinois juvenile criminal records are similar to criminal records but are specifically focused on offenders that are under the age of 18. These records contain all the same information, including information on arrests, judgments and sentences, probation records, indictments, and any adjudications. Juveniles are often not considered convicted criminals but instead are designated as adjudicated delinquents. Juvenile records are usually not available to the public. Nevertheless, these records are still accessible during background checks for employment purposes and tenant screening. These records are often considered to be sealed or expunged when a person turns 18, but the fact is that these records must be requested to be sealed or expunged. These requests are nearly always honored, as the purpose of the Illinois juvenile justice system is to reverse the type of behavior that led to these actions, not to punish a juvenile for mistakes made in their youth.

What Are Conviction Records?

Illinois conviction records are official documents that are created when an individual is convicted of committing a crime. This is the result of the individual failing to indicate in a court of law that they are innocent of a crime in the face of evidence gathered by law enforcement or state officials prosecuting them. Misdemeanors and felonies are both subject to conviction records.

While these records will indicate if an individual has been found guilty of a crime, the documents typically indicate if a person has been placed on probation, dishonorably discharged (in the case of military court), has had to pay a fine, has been imprisoned, or has been granted parole. These records will exclude these final judgments if a plea deal, pardon, or reversed decision has been granted. Interested persons can carry out an Illinois conviction records search via the Illinois Courts.

Illinois History And Accuracy Of Criminal Records

The computerization of records has dramatically improved record management in every industry, and criminal records are no exception. The accuracy and availability of criminal records are at a high point and can be accessed through the site of the record’s creation in both physical and digital format.

Despite the advancement of record-keeping technology, record-keeping is ultimately reliant on the dedication of the officials and staff responsible for creating, documenting, and maintaining these documents. Because of this, the accuracy and availability of records in Illinois may be subject to change depending on the municipality, city, or county it is generated in.




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