top of page

How to File a Petition for Criminal Records Relief

Step 1: Retrieve RAP Sheet + Background Report

If you were arrested in Chicago, visit the Chicago Police Department (address listed below) to have your fingerprints taken. For juvenile rap sheets, fingerprints are taken Monday - Friday from 8:30AM - 12:00PM. There is no cost and results are delivered the same day. For adult rap sheets, fingerprints are taken Monday - Friday from 8:30AM - 12:00PM. 

If you do not have arrests in Chicago, then all you need is your Illinois State Police (ISP) Report, which you can retrieve from your local police station.

Chicago Police Department Access and Review Division

3510 south Michigan Ave, 1st Floor, Chicago, IL 60653


Step 2: Visit the Help Desk

CGLA operates three Help Desks. We serve the first 15 - 20 people on a first-come, first-serve basis. We recommended arriving to the Help Desk no later than 8:30AM to better guarantee a spot to be served.

Help Desk 1: Daley Center

(50 West Washington, Room 1006) 

We are available Mondays - Thursdays, starting at 9:00AM

Help Desk 2: Markham Courthouse

(16501 Kedzie Parkway, Room 102J)

Call ahead to check schedule at 312.738.2452

Help Desk 3: Juvenile Court

(1100 S. Hamilton Ave)

We are available every Thursday from 9:00AM - 1:00PM​

Step 3: Complete Legal Consultation

CGLA attorneys will use your RAP sheet and background report to conduct criminal background research on your record, providing you helpful guidance on what is eligible to be expunged, sealed, and/or addressed with other forms of criminal records relief.

Step 4: Complete and Submit Petition Documentation

With your consent, our team will complete petitions for sealing and expungement and provide instructions on filing petitions with the County Clerk.

Step 5: Attend Court Hearing

Once your petition has been reviewed, you will receive a written notice of your court date. Please note: In Chicago, Skokie, Rolling Meadows, and Bridgeview, you are only required to attend a court hearing if there is an objection filed by the State's Attorney's Office. If no objection is filed, the Judge will grant the request and you will receive the Order in the mail, typically within three months of filing the petition. 

In the event of a court hearing, the Judge will conduct a mini-hearing to decide to grant or deny your petition. In Chicago, CGLA and Chicago Legal Clinic lawyers are always present at petition hearings at 26th and California. We provide representation free of cost. Just bring a copy of your filing, along with any objection letters, and any supporting documentation that would help the Judge rule in your favor such as certificates, proof of schooling, or character letters.

Step 6: Follow-ups

For petitions that have been granted, there are three agencies that are ordered to expunge or seal your records: The Clerk's Office, the Chicago Police Department, and the Illinois State Police. This process typically takes about 60 days from the date your petition is granted, and you will receive written confirmation when the agencies have complied with the Judge's order. Once you receive these letters, your records will have been completely removed from public view.

If your petition is denied, you have the right to request a Motion to Reconsider, which is a hearing asking the judge to reconsider his/her decision. There is no fee to file, but the request must be filed within 60 days of the denial. 

Contact Cabrini Green Legal Aid

If you are in need of legal support involving a criminal matter, please give us a call (312) 738-2452 or email

We also encourage you to visit our FAQ page for answers to common records questions.

bottom of page