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That is, in Illinois, when records are “expunged,” they are either physically destroyed or returned to the petitioner, with references to the underlying arrest and incident removed from public record. The law that explains the availability of this process is the Illinois Criminal Identification Act, which is a state statute identified as “20 ILCS 2630/5.2.”
If a person is arrested but the resulting criminal case is later dismissed, it is possible that the “mug shot”—and all other records that are created by law enforcement agencies and relating to the incident—may be expunged. This may also be an option if there is no actual charge filed following the arrest, if the person is acquitted of charges, if a conviction is vacated or overturned after an appeal, or if the person is found guilty but successfully completes a term of “supervision” or certain types of probation. [Please excuse the number of qualifying terms, like “may” and “certain types,” used in this answer, as the circumstances in which expungement is available are very case specific.]
In some instances an expungement may be an option immediately after a case is dismissed; in others, it may be available after a certain period of time, or not at all. To obtain an expungement, a petition must be filed in court. If one is granted, a judge enters an order directing the arresting agency and any other relevant agency to expunge the relevant records (such as a mug shot).
You are encouraged to seek the help of a private lawyer in seeking an expungement. Otherwise, for more information you may contact the Clerk of the 19th Judicial Circuit; in Lake County, the Circuit Clerk is the entity with which a petition for expungement may be filed. This office can be reached at 847-377-3600.
Legal Questions to the Lake County States Attorney’s office: The following is not legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client privilege. For legal assistance, you are encouraged to contact (a) the Lake County Bar Association for referral to attorneys-for-hire (lakecountylawyer.info), or for low income clients, (b) Prairie State Legal Services (847-662-6925).