It’s never a bad idea to check your records to be sure they are accurate. Unfortunately, court clerks and police officers do make mistakes when filing documents, and these errors can have significant ramifications for you down the line. To protect your ability to operate in society – for instance, to get approved for an apartment, get a job or be able to work with children – you should be familiar with any criminal records you might have in Illinois. In addition, it's important to verify that cases that should be sealed or expunged have been properly treated in your files.
You may request a copy of your criminal records in Illinois through the state police by submitting your fingerprints as proof of identity.
Reviewing Illinois Conviction Records
In Illinois, you have the right to visit any Illinois law enforcement agency, licensed fingerprinting authority or correctional facility during business hours to request access to your records. To verify your identity before providing you with records, you will then be fingerprinted. Other personal identification may be requested, as well.
The facility you visit to request records will forward your fingerprints and your request to the Illinois State Police. Once your information is processed, the police will send you a letter either stating that you have no criminal record or a criminal history transcript. If the latter proves to be the case, the police will also send you a record challenge form. You may use this form to dispute anything that appears in your record. While the police will not charge you any fee for this service, the agency you visit to be fingerprinted could charge you an administrative fee.
It is also possible to request a copy of your Illinois arrest records from the FBI. This can be done via mail. You will need to submit a cover letter outlining your request and any relevant deadlines as to when you need the information. Then, you should obtain a fingerprint card and include it with your request to prove your identity. You will also need to include your name, date of birth and place of birth. Whenever possible, obtaining these fingerprints from a law enforcement agency is ideal. Submit the information and fingerprints along with a certified check or money order for $18 (the current fee) to the FBI at the CJIS Division B Record Request, 1000 Custer Hollow Road, Clarksburg, WV 26306.
You may wish to challenge information that is returned to you as part of your FBI information request. Since the FBI pulls information from law enforcement agencies all across the country, you will need to appeal to the agency that reported your crime and request its revision or removal. Only by doing so will it be altered in the FBI database.
Submitting a Record Challenge Form
If you feel there are errors in your criminal record, submit a record challenge form in an effort to have them corrected. This challenge process is overseen by the Illinois State Police. After reviewing your dispute, the police will either send you a letter outlining the efforts they have taken to correct your records or a statement that they feel there is nothing to be corrected.
Expunged Records and Background Checks
If you are having a background check conducted for a job or housing application, you may wonder whether expunged records will appear. Technically, anything that is expunged should not appear on a background check. If you find that it, or sealed records, are showing up on your background check, contact the court that heard your case and request the records be properly expunged or sealed.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you have a right as a consumer to view any background check that is conducted on you and to request changes to it if you feel it is inaccurate. This applies to your criminal or civil records, as well. The seven-year rule requires that civil suits, civil judgments, arrest records and paid tax liens be removed from a consumer report, such as a background check, after seven years. This applies to every state in the U.S. If any of these records appear on your background check, you have a right to appeal.