What is an arrest record?
The Uniform Conviction Act passed in early 1991 in the state of Illinois mandated the release of arrested records related to criminal history to interested members of the public. The state police department was entrusted the task of maintaining the data and making it available to non justice organizations and individuals. However, under the provisions of the act, only information on cases that resulted in conviction s supposed to disseminated to non-legal entities and people.
So, while members of the law enforcement agency in the state of Illinois can get their hands on all the information they need concerning the criminal records of a person, including arrests that did not culminate in charges being filed and even cases that were dismissed, a private citizen will only be able to get criminal history records when a conviction or appropriate judicial action did take place.
In keeping with the law laid down by the Criminal Identification Act, all details concerning to criminal activity in the state are maintained in a central repository of CHRI (Criminal History Record and Information). Currently this database holds information on over 3.5 million offenders making it the fifth largest criminal information repository in the country. The information stored pertaining to each legal matter includes:
- Arrest records
- Charges filed
- Disposition related details
- Custody data
When a civilian requests for arrest records in Illinois, he/she is handed a copy with information about when the arrest was made, the filings made by the state’s attorney, the verdict and details on place/places of incarceration. Of course the last bit of data is only offered in matters where the perpetrator was remanded to a custodial facility. Legal matters that culminate in a “not guilty” verdict are never offered to non criminal and non legal entities.
The state accepts request for arrest records in two formats: name checks and fingerprint inquiries.
Name checks: This merely entails filing a request form with identifiers like the name of the person about whom the information is sought, his/her gender, date of birth, race and other ancillary personal information. It is imperative to understand that the results of a name check may not come out as a positive identification. There are a range of factors which may askew the outcome of such a search like a very common first and last name etc.
Fingerprinting: This is a more reliable form on inquiry and usually brings back an accurate analysis where possible.
What is an arrest warrant?
According to Sec 107-1 of the Illinois Criminal Procedure Law, a warrant for arrest is defined as a written court directive to members of the local law enforcement agency or to some other person to arrest the individual in whose name the warrant has been issued. Section 107.5 goes on to describe the ratified methods of arrest allowed which includes:
- Actual physical restraint, like the use of handcuffs
- Surrender into custody
- Arrests can be made at any time and at any place
- A person can be taken into custody from anywhere within the bounds of the state
- The police or other law enforcement agencies are allowed to use any form of force to enter any property to make an arrest.
The law also states that only people who have been arrested through the use of a warrant have to be detained until such time that they are set free on bail by a judicial entity. This means that if an arrest is made without a warrant, the peace officer responsible for such detention is authorized to release the person without judicial intervention as long as he/she is satisfied that there are no grounds for filing a criminal matter against the individual in question.
ILCS 725, 5/107-9, Ch. 38 offers information on the issue of arrest warrants. In Illinois, an arrest warrant can only be issued by a judicial body after the concerned law enforcement agency files a complaint in court stating that a crime has been committed. All information presented in the writ petition filed in court is examined under oath before a warrant is granted; this includes:
- Details about suspect: Name, gender, date of birth and description by which he/she can be identified
- Case related information: The offense for which the accused is being charged, evidence and witness testimony in the matter.
The warrant is issued if from the contents of the written affidavit, it appears that the person against whom the complaint is made has indeed committed the crime. The warrant thus duly signed and issued is addressed to all peace officers in the state of Illinois and it will be executed within the geographical bounds stated in the warrant. However if such limitations have not been specified, the order can be used for arresting a person anywhere within the state or country.
An arrest warrant issued by the criminal courts in Illinois will be in writing and contain information about the suspect, nature of the crime, date and county of issuance. The document will be signed by the sitting magistrate of a criminal judicial entity and it will explicitly command the members of law enforcement agencies to bring the person in whose name the warrant has been issued in front of the court, to stand trial for the offense in question.
Often a bail amount is also specified but this is not a legal mandate. Such an arrest order issued in Illinois is legally termed as an active arrest warrant. Any warrant that is not executed is stored in a central crime repository and is known as an outstanding warrant. A warrant once issued cannot be abated or quashed owing to any irregularities in the documents as long as these discrepancies do not substantially impact the rights of the accused.
How to search for an inmate in the Illinois Jail & Prison system?
All information regarding inmates currently serving time in correctional facilities across Illinois or those who are convicted in the state can be obtained from the website of the Illinois Department of Corrections at idoc.state.il.us/subsections/search/default.shtml.
Alternatively, you can also access inmate details by calling the Public Information Office of the Department at (217) 522-2666, Ext. 2008. They only accept inquiries during business hours Monday to Friday. A simpler option would be to contact the Sherriff’s Department of the county where the inmate is housed through their official website. Inmate information is available to the general public as well as private organizations both government and non-state.
Who can search for arrest records and warrants in Illinois and how?
In Illinois, all criminal arrest records are accessible to the public by law; however, if this information is being sought for a housing or pre-employment screening, you are obligated to notify the person whose records you are seeking. While searching for arrest records in Illinois is fairly simple, you will need to pay a small processing fee and in some cases a regular name check may bring back inconclusive results, so it may be necessary to collect fingerprints.
How to request records under the Illinois specific laws, freedom of information?
For criminal history records, you will need to approach the Illinois State Police. The information can be obtained online by visiting the official website of the law enforcement agency at sp.state.il.us/crimhistory/chri.cfm.
Another way is to request a UCIA sheet (Uniform Conviction Information Act Information) from isp.state.il.us/services/uciaformreq.cfm or you can write to the
The Bureau of Identification,
Illinois State Police
260 North Chicago Street
Joliet, Illinois 60431-1060
You can receive the form through mail or you can call on (815) 740-5160 from Monday to Friday between 7 am and 5 pm, to request the form over the phone.
For name check conviction records: The Illinois State Police has implemented a program that allows individuals and private agencies to conduct a name based criminal records check through email and electronically, and receive a response for the inquiry within 24 hours. However, you will need to enroll in this program known as FEESUB. For enrollment instructions visit isp.state.il.us/services/enrollmentinstructions.pdf
To fill the name check conviction form (ISP6-405B), furnish the first and last name of the individual whose records you seek along with his/her date of birth, gender, ethnicity, aliases etc. You will also need to send a processing fee of $16 with your request.
Fingerprint conviction inquiries: For finger print based conviction record information, you will need to fill Form (ISP6-404B). To complete this form, you will need to attach official fingerprint copies of the person whose records you are searching. Illinois police recommends that the fingerprints be taken at the local sheriff’s department. Submit the completed form with a $20 processing fee to receive arrest records.