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Report: expunging juvenile records in Illinois expensive, rare

Is it right that a youthful mistake should haunt you the rest of your life? In Illinois, having a juvenile criminal record can prevent you from getting into college, finding a job or even putting a roof over your head -- even if the conviction on your record is years, even decades, old.

While it is technically possible to expunge your juvenile record in most cases, in reality very few people are able to do so. The Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, a group formed by the Legislature to report on juvenile justice, estimates in a new study that, on average, just three in 1,000 Illinois juvenile arrest records were expunged between 2004 and 2014.

There are no official records of juvenile record expungements in each of Illinois’ 102 counties, so this figure is based on interviews with county clerks, prosecutors, police, judges and other players, as well as examination of records. Commissioners found that in the vast majority of counties, fewer than one juvenile record got erased per year during the 10-year period they investigated.

One reason so few people expunge their juvenile arrest record is the cost. The commission notes in its report that counties charge up to $320 per arrest to be expunged. This may be too expensive for many people whose lives are being seriously hampered by their records, which is why the commission suggests eliminating these fees.

Meanwhile, while these records are supposed to be sealed except in certain circumstances, these records still get shared with unauthorized people, the report says. Among its recommendations was creating a penalty for illegal disclosure of a person’s juvenile record. The commission also suggests expanding the state’s automatic expungement policy.

Moving on with your life after a conviction can be tough, but you may qualify for an expungement that cleans up your record. Talk to a defense attorney for more information.

Source: Dispatch-Argus, “Reports: Laws holding back juveniles with criminal records,” Apr. 28, 2016

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