Why should I expunge or seal my record?
Your criminal record can make it hard for you to find a job, stop you from getting financial aid for school, and keep you from obtaining or retaining access to public housing. Even if you were only arrested and never had to go to court, that arrest is on your record for employers, schools, and other institutions to see.
Do I need to get my “rap sheet”?
You need to get your Chicago rap sheet if you plan to file a petition to expunge or seal in the City of Chicago. This is because Chicago requires you to include your rap sheet with your petition. If you are filing your petition to expunge or seal in one of the suburban courthouses, such as in Skokie or Maywood, these courthouses do not require you to include your rap sheet with your petition, so you don’t need to get your rap sheet.
How do I know whether to file my petition to expunge or seal in Chicago or somewhere else?
You have to file your petition to expunge or seal at the courthouse where your case was heard (or, if you were arrested but not charged, at the courthouse that serves the location where you were arrested). If you have had cases in both Evanston and Chicago, for example, you will need to file one petition to expunge or seal at the Skokie Courthouse (where Evanston cases get heard) and one petition to expunge or seal in Chicago at the Daley Center.
How do I get my rap sheet for my Chicago arrests/cases?
Go to the Chicago Police Headquarters at 3510 S. Michigan Ave. in downtown Chicago between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. to get your fingerprints taken. This will cost $16.00. They will tell you when to come back to pick up your rap sheet (it usually takes about a week). This rap sheet will contain only your Chicago arrests and cases. CPD will also send your fingerprints to the Illinois State Police, who will send CPD your entire Illinois criminal history – however, you will only be able to VIEW your entire Illinois criminal history at the police station, you will not be able to take it with you or make copies.
What if I want to see my rap sheet for cases outside of Chicago?
You can go to any local law enforcement agency (such as your local police department) and ask them to do a fingerprint based inquiry to the Illinois State Police for the purpose of allowing you to Access and Review your state criminal history record. They will fingerprint you and tell you when you can come back to view your record. However, you will only be able to VIEW the record at the police station – you will not be allowed to take it with you, or to makes copies. You do not need to do this in order to expunge your record.
If you want to see information on your convictions only (but not on cases that didn’t result in conviction, and arrests where no charges were brought), there is a procedure to get that information from the Illinois State Police for a fee, using either a search of your name or your fingerprints. For more information on how to do this, go to: http://www.isp.state.il.us/crimhistory/chri.cfm . You do not need to do this in order to expunge your record.
What should I do to prepare for the Expungement Expo?
The most important thing to do is pre-register by filling out the pre-registration form available on this website (see the menu on the left). Make sure to include your name, any other names you’ve ever gone by (such as a fake name you gave the police or a maiden name), any variations on your name or misspellings of your name that you might have been arrested under, and your birth date. We will use this information to look up your record on the Clerk of the Court’s computer system. Also state which counties you have ever been arrested in, and if you have ever been arrested in any states other than Illinois.
In addition to pre-registering, if you have arrests or cases in Chicago, please obtain your rap sheet for your Chicago cases before the Expo. We can meet with you at the Expo even without your rap sheet, but it will assist us if you have it, and you will need it before you are actually able to file your petition to expunge or seal in Chicago.