How Can I Minimize Public Record of My Arrest?

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When someone is arrested, the arrest is recorded in a public record. This is called a public arrest record, which is a little bit different from a criminal record. Even if an individual is eventually found not guilty of the charges against him or her (and thus does not have a criminal record for it), there will still be a public arrest record for the event.

These arrest records are completely public. Anyone can access the information about the arrest by going to the government website for the jurisdiction in which the individual was arrested. That means that if you’ve been arrested in Illinois, the record of your arrest is very likely to be publicly accessible there—even if you were ultimately found not guilty.

Public arrest records can lead to a range of difficulties, from simple embarrassment all the way up to lost job and career opportunities. The good news is that you can get your arrest cleared from the public record … at least in some cases.

What Negative Effects Can Public Arrest Records Have?

If you’ve been arrested, your public arrest record will be kept online. It will include the details of your arrest, including the date and time, the criminal charges you were arrested on, and the relevant information concerning your detention or confinement. It will also include identifying information on you, such as date of birth, hair color, etc.

These public arrest records are likely to show up as part of any background checks that may be done if you’re applying for a new position or seeking promotion in your current work. There’s also the chance that someone in your life might happen across the arrest record by accident, which could lead to embarrassing situations or a negative effect on your social reputation.

Public arrest records don’t have the same range of effects as an outright criminal record, but they can be bad enough that it’s worth the effort to have them cleared.

Can an Arrest Record be Cleared?

Arrest records and criminal records can be cleared through a process known as “sealing” or “expungement.” If a record is sealed, it is made unavailable to the public; if it is expunged, it is erased, as if it never happened.

Generally speaking, sealing and expungement is easier with more minor cases. It’s easier to get a misdemeanor or juvenile offense sealed or expunged than it is to seal or expunge a felony offense you committed as an adult. Certain types of crimes and offenses are nearly impossible to have expunged.

The process of clearing your record is not quick or easy, nor is it automatic. Generally, it means a lot of paperwork, as well as a legal argument for why the court should allow the records to be sealed or expunged. The District Attorney can always choose to challenge your application, leading to a hearing where prosecutors and victims get to express their position.

I Have an Arrest I Would Like Cleared — What Now?

If you’ve been arrested in Illinois and would like to have your public record sealed or expunged, you should start out by talking to an Illinois criminal defense attorney at Wolfe & Stec. One of our attorneys will let you know what types of documents you’ll need to file in order to have the record cleared, as well as letting you know your chances of success.

It’s important to act quickly after being arrested and charged with a crime in Illinois. Contact the criminal defense attorneys at Wolfe & Stec today to put us to work on your case.

Attorney Marc Wolfe

Marc Wolfe has been representing clients in criminal matters in Chicago and the entire State of Illinois for over 30 years. Mr. Wolfe has tried over 300 cases to verdict and represents clients facing investigation or prosecution for a broad range of state and federal criminal offenses, including murder, embezzlement, sexual abuse, drugs, marijuana and white collar crimes. [ Attorney Bio ]