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Illinois Criminal Records

Illinois criminal records refer to any criminal activity in the state’s criminal justice system. Like in other states, employers usually use criminal records when performing background checks on potential employees. Under the Illinois Uniform Conviction Information Act of 1991, any individual can access their personal criminal history records. The Illinois Freedom of Information Act (5 ILCS 140) also states that criminal history records, such as felonies, misdemeanors, and arrests, are all considered public records. It is illegal to obtain an individual’s criminal history records unless given legal authority. 


What Are the Types of Crimes in Illinois?

Illinois has three major categories of crime: 

  1. Petty offense
  2. Misdemeanor
  3. Felony

Petty offenses

Minor violations are petty offenses punishable by fines not exceeding $1,000. The most common examples of petty offenses are running a stop sign, failing to wear a seatbelt, or speeding. As minor violations, petty offenses do not carry a jail sentence.


Misdemeanor offenses are already considered criminal offenses and are punishable by a minimum of six (6) months of jail time up to a year plus a fine of up to $1,000. It is also divided into three categories:

  • Class A misdemeanors
  • Class B misdemeanors
  • Class C misdemeanors

Of the three classifications, Class C misdemeanors are the least severe. An ordinance violation or a business offense falls under this category. Once found guilty, the judge will impose a fine on the offender.  

Class B misdemeanors like trespassing, aggravated speeding, harassing someone on the telephone, and littering is punishable by no more than 180 days or equivalent to six months of jail time plus a fine of not exceeding $1,500. 

The most serious type of misdemeanor is a Class A, with penalties going up as high as $2,500 plus a year in jail, excluding mandatory court assessments. In some cases, an offender can be on probation, conditional discharge, or two-year court supervision under Illinois statute. Some common examples of Class A misdemeanors are the following:

  • Battery, including domestic battery
  • Violation of an order of protection
  • Aggravated assault
  • Reckless conduct 
  • Retail theft
  • Driving under the influence (DUI) or driving with a suspended license
  • Criminal trespassing to a vehicle or residence
  • Criminal defacement or damage to property
  • Illegal possession of firearms
  • Resisting arrest or obstructing a peace officer
  • Delivery or possession of cannabis
  • Possession of alcohol or drug paraphernalia


The most serious criminal charge in Illinois is a felony. The punishment for this type of crime can be anywhere between a year to life imprisonment. 

Like with misdemeanors, felonies are categorized differently in Illinois. 

Class 4 Felony - this is the least serious felony category, which includes theft, stalking, aggravated DUI, aggravated assault, and drug possession of a controlled substance and is punishable by at least one to three years of imprisonment with a maximum extended term of six years. 

Class 3 Felony - crimes under this category involve aggravated assault and battery against pregnant women, the elderly, teachers, and other certain victims. An offender found guilty of a class 3 felony can have two to five years of prison time, which can be extended to a maximum of 10 years. 

Class 2 Felony - some of the most common examples of this type of felony includes child pornography, drug crimes, aggravated domestic battery, sexual abuse, possession of a stolen firearm, kidnapping, robbery or burglary, and delivery of cannabis. A class 2 felony charge is punishable by at least three to seven years of imprisonment to a maximum of 14 years in case of an extension. 

Class 1 Felony - this constitutes grievous offenses like theft amounting to $10,000 and up, sexual assault, and possession of drugs such as cocaine and heroin. A class 1 felony is punishable by four to 15 years of imprisonment, which can be extended to up to 30 years. 

Class X Felony - this category includes the most violent crimes punishable by six to 30 years of imprisonment, which can be extended to 60 years. Crimes under this category are aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated kidnapping, child pornography, aggravated battery of a child, and aggravated criminal sexual assault. 

In addition to the five felony classes, murder is completely in a separate category punishable by jail time of up to four to 100 years, life imprisonment, or the death penalty. 


How Does Probation Work in Illinois?

Probation in Illinois is often offered to first-time offenders or those whose offenses are not severe. However, judges may also impose probation as an added penalty for misdemeanors. A typical probation can last between one to three years. In some cases, probation can be extended depending on the severity of the offense and the type of conviction. 

Some of the most common probation conditions in Illinois include: 

  • Reporting to a probation office
  • Paying a fine
  • Performing community services
  • Not violating any more offenses
  • Not possessing a firearm
  • Performing drug testing
  • Completing alcohol or drug treatment
  • Not leaving the state without permission

The state’s circuit courts handle the probation proceedings and judges may add other conditions that they deem appropriate as punishment for the offense. Sometimes, a judge may confine an offender to their homes for up to six months. Failure to comply with probation conditions imposed by the court can result in the revocation of the probation and another hearing resulting in any of the following: jail time, recommitment to probation, or modifying the probation terms. 


How Does Parole Work in Illinois?

A parole grants release to the offender even before they complete their maximum sentence appointed by the court. However, the offender under parole is still under conditional release, which requires them to undergo the supervision of a parole officer. 

Illinois is one of the 16 states that abolished discretionary parole where a parole board can release an offender before finishing the maximum sentence.

Instead, Illinois follows a mandatory system called mandatory supervised release (MSR) that automatically releases offenders even without a hearing as long as legally binding conditions are met, similar to probation conditions. 


How Does Expungement Work in Illinois?

In Illinois, even innocent people can have a criminal record as long as they are arrested and charged with an offense. In case of a not guilty plea and a proven case of innocence, a person can clean their criminal record in three ways: 

  1. Expungement, which erases all arrest and court records like it never happened
  2. Sealing hides criminal records from the public, except for law enforcement agencies
  3. Executive clemency from the governor only applies when a person does not qualify for an expungement or sealing, and the governor can authorize expungement through a pardon. 

Note that expungement can only apply to criminal records with arrests, charges, and qualified probations like the following: 

  • Governor pardon allowing expungement on all record convictions
  • Class 4 cannabis conviction
  • Domestic battery
  • Criminal sexual abuse
  • Operation of an uninsured motor vehicle
  • Reckless driving
  • Sentences of qualified probation

However, expungement in Illinois criminal records is not available in some types of offenses like the following: 

  • Minor traffic offenses
  • Misdemeanor and felony convictions (unless pardoned, reversed, or vacated)
  • Reckless driving 
  • Driving under the influence
  • Sexual offenses-minor 
  • Guilty convictions resulting in fines, jail time, and conditional discharge

There are four steps to expunge or seal criminal records:

  1. An offender needs to get a copy of their criminal records from the Illinois State Police, circuit clerk, licensed LiveScan vendor, or any other law enforcement agency. 
  2. Review the criminal records if they are eligible for expungement or sealing.
  3. Fill out the necessary forms
  4. Submit the form to the county court to expunge or seal the criminal records. 


How To Obtain a Criminal Record in Illinois

There are four different channels to access Illinois criminal records:

  1. Illinois State Police
  2. Circuit clerk
  3. Licensed LiveScan vendor
  4. Other law enforcement agencies

Usually, a person can request their criminal history record by providing their fingerprints and other information for identification to the state police, LiveScan vendor, or any other accredited law enforcement agencies. The ISP will run the prints and then mail the results to the requester. Another way is to visit the circuit clerk and provide a case number or a name to obtain any possible criminal record

Counties in Illinois

Police Departments and Sheriffe Office in Illinois

Cook County Sheriff's Office3026 S. California Ave., Chicago, IL
DuPage County Sheriff's Office501 N. County Farm Road, Wheaton, IL
Lake County Sheriff's Office25 S Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, Waukegan, IL
Will County Sheriff's Office16911 W Laraway Rd, Joliet, IL
Kane County Sheriff's Office37W755 Illinois Route 38, St. Charles, IL
McHenry County Sheriff's Office2200 N. Seminary Ave, Woodstock, IL
Winnebago County Sheriff's Office650 W State St, Rockford, IL
Madison County Sheriff's Office405 Randle St, Edwardsville, IL
Champaign County Sheriff's Office204 East Main Street, Urbana, IL
Sangamon County Sheriff's Office1 Sheriff's Plaza, Springfield, IL