Can My Criminal Record Be Found Online?

Whether you’re applying for a job, trying to get into a school or seeking anything else that might require a background check, the question often arises about whether your criminal history can be discovered. Once upon a time (about 30 years ago), before there was something called the internet (yes, there was a time when all information was found in a place called a “library”), potential employers and school admission offices had few choices when it came to investigating the criminal background of potential applicants.

Illinois State Police Rap Sheets

Typically, they would fill out a form with the Illinois State Police, send about $20 in the mail, and then wait a couple of weeks to receive an official copy of what is commonly referred to as a “Rap Sheet”, also known as the person’s official criminal record.

This is how things worked because the Illinois State Police were, and still are, considered the official repository for criminal background information and are sometimes referred to as the “Keepers of the Record”. So, if a Rap Sheet was ordered, the seeker of information would either see criminal information on there or they would not. It would either have information typed on the form or it would be blank. That was pretty much the end of it.

Expunge Your Criminal Record If You Can

As such, if a person who had previously been a defendant in a criminal or serious traffic matter was eligible for expungement of certain court proceedings, then expunging that information from the record was of extreme importance. That’s because when you expunge something, one of the most important benefits of that procedure is that the Illinois State Police are ordered by the Chief Judge of the County to actually erase the notation about the court case from the Rap Sheet; actually erase it so that the entry is completely blank. Then if someone later orders a copy of that person’s criminal record, there is nothing at all to see.

Whether someone has been arrested by the Chicago Police or any other police department in Illinois, what can be found on a person’s Rap Sheet in addition to identifying information about the defendant is the following (unless the case has been expunged, in which case it will be blank): 1) date and location information about when the person was first arrested, 2) the type of crimes for which they were arrested, and 3) the final court result, whether the person was found not guilty or whether they were sentenced for a crime after being found guilty or pleading guilty.

Online Criminal History Information

So, can this information from the Illinois State Police be found online? The answer currently is “no”. Only authorized organizations or those with your permission are allowed to access Rap Sheet information. So why is there any cause for concern that information seekers may find or be able to obtain your background information online? The answer is that there are now many third-party companies that collect criminal and traffic data about you.

What these companies do is obtain court information about virtually every criminal / traffic case in Chicago and other cities (as well as other types of cases) and store it on their own computer servers. They are constantly adding to this list of case information. So, they are not getting the data from the Illinois State Police, but from other sources. They then advertise online offering to sell background information to authorized parties or in some cases, just interested parties. They offer this information to certain potential employers, schools or sometimes just nosey people. As long as some has a credit card, there’s a chance that they may be able to purchase and instantly download a background check from some company on the internet.

Contact an Experienced Expungement Attorney

So although expunging your record is no longer a 100% guarantee that a seeker of information will absolutely not be able to find your criminal or traffic court information, it’s still highly advised that you do an expungement if you qualify, as it greatly increases the chances that your personal information won’t be discovered. There is also a brand new Illinois State Law that you should be aware of that gives residents in Chicago and across Illinois new protections when it comes to these third-party background information sellers and under some circumstances allows you to force them to change incorrect online information about you.

Sexner & Associates LLC has been helping people expunge and protect their traffic and criminal records since 1990. Contact us online or call us at 800-996-4824 any time for clear and confidential information about how to best assist you.

Written by Mitchell S. Sexner Last Updated : December 30, 2021