The Illinois Freedom of Information Act lays out the tenants by which the public records of Illinois State are accessible to the people of the state. Every state has different statutes and laws that facilitate the people’s right to request, receive, examine, and copy documents and data of public record.
The Freedom of Information Act of Illinois State (5 ILCS 140) specifies that all information produced by law enforcement or governmental agencies are, with some exceptions, presumed to be available to U.S. Citizens for inspection. The exceptions include records that are deemed private through state/court law or other legal actions.
This article aims to compile in one place all of the available records of the State of Illinois, the rules and instructions for obtaining them, fees, conditions, and other relevant information.
The State of Illinois has over 110-million records available to the public, including criminal and court records, some vital records, government documents, and many more.
Criminal Records of the State of Illinois
In this section, we will look at the availability of the following records:
- Driving violations
- Criminal records
How does Illinois define a criminal record?
The State of Illinois defines criminal records as documents or other pieces of information of an official nature detailing individuals’ crimes, their nature, type, and further relevant details.
In popular culture, these are often referred to as ‘rap sheets.’ These records cover every known detail of an individual’s criminal activity processed by the judicial or police systems.
The most common kinds of data include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Dispositions (pending and past)
These records gather information and documentation from the various government levels: federal, state, county, town/city. The State Records of Illinois only encompass information from the state to town/city level.
What information do Illinois criminal records contain?
Information on charged or convicted offenders in the State of Illinois usually contains the following details:
- Full name of the individual
- Known aliases
- Date of birth
- Identifying physical traits
- Indictments (previous, current, and pending)
- Arrest records
- Incarceration/conviction information
How does the State of Illinois define arrest records?
When an individual is remanded into custody by law enforcement agents, an arrest record is created. This record contains all details relevant to the individual arrested and the circumstances of the arrest.
It is important to note that arrest records are not criminal records. Criminal records and arrest records have different functions. A criminal record is only created when an individual faces conviction via a court of law. Some arrests occur but do not have any mandatory jail sentence and only involve the issuing of a fine, ticket, or citation.
How does the State of Illinois define an arrest warrant?
Typically, law enforcement agents or district attorneys request arrest warrants when there is enough evidence available for conviction of a crime. Judges or magistrates will then issue a warrant for the individual’s arrest. This allows officers of the law to arrest individuals for suspected crimes they have not directly witnessed.
How does Illinois define misdemeanors?
Minor offenses of a criminal nature, or offenses that cannot be classified as a felony, are misdemeanor offenses.
The State of Illinois gives them a letter grade classification of Class A to Class C. More severe misdemeanors are Class A, while Class C is less severe. Punishment for such crimes is usually a fine, citation, minor prison sentence, or community service.
How does Illinois define a Felony?
There are six classes of a felony in Illinois. Class 1 – 3 are felonies of a more serious nature, with Class 4 being the least. Class 6 is first-degree murder, while Class X is reserved for crimes deemed more serious than class 6.
Felonies in Illinois are punished with fines and jail time up to a life sentence. Illinois does not have the death penalty.
How can I get copies of criminal records in Illinois?
There are many reasons why you might want to get information on a criminal record. As we saw, these records detail the offenses for which one is arrested, charged, the case outcomes, and the sentences received.
The agencies responsible for handling and disseminating criminal records include:
- Illinois Circuit Court
- Illinois State Police Dept. (I.S.P.)
- Chicago Police Dept. (C.P.)
- Municipal Police Departments
- County Sheriff Departments
Obtaining Statewide Criminal Records
A Statewide Criminal History Transcript can be obtained from the I.S.P. Arrest, conviction, and other criminal record information will be included in this document.
You can request this transcript in person or by mail. You will need to provide the following:
- Government-issued ID
- Money order, check, or cash for free
There are two ways to get your statewide transcript.
The first way is to contact the I.S.P. at the following address to have your fingerprint taken and fill out the application.
260 North, Chicago Street,
Joilet, Illinois, 603432
(815) 740 – 5160
Obtaining criminal records for the City of Chicago
If the arrest occurred in Chicago and you are looking for your criminal history, you can receive your Chicago Record of Arrests and Prosecutions (R.A.P. sheet).
You can make this request at the Police Headquarter of the Chicago Police at the following address:
3510 South, Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois, 60653
The records will be mailed to you between 7 and 10 business days from the date of fingerprinting.
You can also mail your request along with your fingerprints, a photocopy of your government-issued I.D., a money order made out to the Department of Revenue for $16, a self-addressed envelope with a stamp, and a letter requesting the transcript.
Mail all of the above to the following address:
Attention: Jerry Young
3510 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60653
Most commonly, these records are stored and can be accessed in whatever facility, court, or police station the record was created in. The record is usually made in whatever police jurisdiction the crime occurred or whatever court the trial was held. Visit these locations to obtain more information on the records in question.
Visit the Illinois Courts website for more information on obtaining public criminal records from the various levels of court: Supreme Court, Appellate Court, and Circuit Court.
How can I get State of Illinois conviction records?
When a person is convicted of a crime by a court of law, a criminal record document is created. Both felonies and misdemeanor offenses are subject to conviction, and therefore to the creation of conviction rectors.
These records include the guilty verdict of the crime. They also record whether the individual has been imprisoned, has been granted parole, has been placed on probation, has had to pay a fine, or has been dishonorably discharged from the military.
If a plea deal or pardon has been granted, these records will not include the final judgments.
The State of Illinois allows you to obtain conviction records in the same manner as other criminal records. This was outlined in the above section.
Where can I get inmate records?
Any person who has entered the Illinois Corrections system has an inmate record. Both municipal and county jails, as well as state prisons, keep inmate records. The records are made in the jurisdiction in which the prisoner is held, and that facility most often manages the records.
Like in other states, Illinois does maintain a database of inmates to allow interested parties to find them.
The following details are usually contained in these records:
- Name and aliases (if any)
- Offense details
- Individual personal data
- Prison entry dates
- Prospective release date
- Facility information (address, security level)
- Any past convictions/sentences of the criminal
- Bail/bond conditions
You can search for inmates incarcerated in the State of Illinois at the following link.
Where can I find Illinois sex offender listings?
Sex offender registries are provided as a matter of public record. They enable the public to receive notifications on the location of individuals who may pose a danger to their area.
This is a federally mandated program introduced by Megan’s Law, and these registers contain the locations, names, and convictions of sex offenders in the state.
The registries are online, and the public can do their own research as they see fit.
Click the following link to view the sex offender registry for the State of Illinois.
Court Records in the State of Illinois
The highest court in the State of Illinois is the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court can review and oversee all decisions made by the lower Appeals Court, which in turn carries out a similar function over the County Courts. The above is only the case when a party decides to appeal a decision.
The state is divided into appellate districts, six in all. These are further divided into the 102 trials, and superior courts spread across the 102 counties that make up Illinois.
Are court records Public in the State of Illinois?
In 1800, the Freedom of Information Act was passed in Illinois. Changes were made in 1984 and 2020. These acts ensure all interested members of the public have the right to access state and local governments’ public records. Court records are included in these laws.
How can you access public court records?
You can access court records in two ways, in person or online.
To view court records in person, visit the Supreme Court Building at the following address:
- Monthly Docket Books
- Appellant Briefs
- Appellee’s Briefs
- Additional Authorities
- Reply Briefs
- Court Opinions
- Oral Arguments
- and many more.
Vital Records in the State of Illinois
Are vital records public in the State of Illinois?
The Freedom of Information Laws of the State of Illinois stipulate that the vast majority of vital records are not available to the public. The Vital Records Act maintains that records are available only to persons authorized to receive them, such as the individuals to whom the vital records pertain, some family members, and authorized legal representatives.
State judges may also authorize specific individuals to access these records, and for genealogical purposes, restrictions can also be set aside.
Can I search for vital records online?
If you are eligible to receive access to vital records, interested individuals can provide requisite information to the Bureau of Vital Records, such as:
- Parent/legal guardian name
- Judicial district vital event occurred
- Date (approximate) birth, death, marriage, or divorce occurred
- If for records of marriage or divorce, the name of the presiding judge
- Casefile/license number
How can I obtain access to vital records in Illinois?
Documents will be required to prove your eligibility if you are requesting access to specific vital records. Information copies for research purposes may not require you to submit documentation. However, certified copies, or access to restricted information, will require a government-issued I.D., as well as either documentation that demonstrates your eligibility and need for the records or a court subpoena.
Depending on where the vital event occurred, the record’s custodian may request additional information from you.
Informational Copies vs. Certified Record
There are no legal authorities imbued in the informational copies of vital records. This means they cannot be used to establish a person’s identity. Most commonly, these copies are utilized for research purposes, such as genealogical research.
On the other hand, a certified record is a legitimate legal document that can only be given to individuals who meet the eligibility requirements. Typically these certified documents feature a seal and have been notarized.
Marriage Records in the form of certified copies are restricted to selected individuals, such as persons named on the record or their authorized representatives. Informational copies, however, may be accessible for research purposes by any interested party.
To obtain these records, speak to the County Clerk’s office where the marriage license was created. You may contact the county clerk via mail, phone, or in person. The following link gives you information on how to contact each county clerk.
Typically, you will be required to provide the following information to proceed with a record search:
- Names of involved parties
- Date of marriage and location
- Marriage license number
You will also be required to pay a fee (see list below) and provide a government-issued I.D. to access marriage records.
Marriage verification services are provided to interested parties. This offers various publicly available facts about marriages, such as the married individuals’ names, birth dates, marriage dates, and marriage locations.
To acquire these records, fill out the application and mail or personally deliver it, along with the fee, to the following address:
Division of Vital Records
925 E. Ridgely Ave.
Springfield, IL 62702-2737
The State of Illinois does not consider divorce records to be publicly available information. However, some information about the dissolution of the marriage may be obtainable by any interested party for research purposes. But certified records are only accessible to those named on the records as well as their legal representatives.
Like all vital records, requests for divorce records are made through the Circuit Court Clerk’s county office that processed the divorce. Contact the relevant county court clerk to provide information regarding the record search.
Certified birth records are only available to the following individuals:
- Individual (if over 18) named on the record
- Parents/guardians of named individual
- Legal rep. of named individual
- Legal rep. of parents/guardians
- Anyone authorized by court order
The State of Illinois Department of Public Health’s Division of Vital Records will process birth records and requests to access them. The County Clerk’s office of the birth district also maintains these records.
To request birth records, fill out the Birth Record Application, attach the I.D. requirements and fees mentioned on the form. You can mail it or deliver it in person to the following address:
925 East Ridgely Avenue,
Springfield, IL 62702-2737
State law requires that certified records of death are accessible only to the deceased’s immediate relations or those with a right or interest that would justify the record’s release. Individuals who do not fit either of these conditions may be authorized to view them only through a court order.
To acquire a copy of a death record, fill out the application form, indicate which type of death record you are looking for (certified or informational), and provide relevant information about the deceased individual.
As usual, the application must be accompanied by satisfying government-issued I.D. requirements, as well as the appropriate fees. Mail or deliver in person to the following address:
925 East Ridgely Avenue,
Springfield, IL 62702-2737
Vital Record Fees
Below is a breakdown of all of the fees associated with vital records for the State of Illinois. Click the following link to view a .pdf file containing a detailed breakdown of fee structures and document descriptions.
- Adoption registry – $15
- Adoption registry original birth record request – $15 (non-certified)
- Long form birth certificate full copy – $15 (certified)
- Long form informational birth certificate – $10 (non-certified)
- Short form birth certificate computer generated abstract – $10 (non-certified)
- Short form birth certificate with info collected at time of birth – $15 (certified)
- Adoption birth certificate – $15
- Verification of civil union – $5
- Commemorative certification of birth – $40
- Name changes (legal) or name corrections – $15
- Death certificate, a full copy of original – $19 (certified)
- Death certificate, informational copy – $10 (non-certified)
- Delayed registration birth certificate – $15 (certified)
- Verification of a dissolution of a civil union – $5
- Verification of a dissolution of marriage – $5
- Record of foreign birth – $5 (administrative copy only)
- Reassignment of gender – $15
- Genealogical certificate of birth – $10 (non-certified)
- Legitimation (adding of paternal name to birth record) – $15
- Verification of marriage – $5
- Statement of non-availability of vital records – $10 (certified)
- Stillbirth certification of fetal death – $15
Inmate Records of the State of Illinois
Offenders held in the State of Illinois penal institutions each have an inmate record providing information about the individual and their sentencing information. The Illinois Department of Corrections maintains these records.
Both prisons and correctional facilities fall under the state corrections department’s scope, while counties or municipalities manage jails.
If you are looking for records of a former inmate from a state prison, you can complete a request form online or mail a letter with a statement of request to either of the following addresses:
James R. Thompson Center
100 West Randolph
Chicago, IL 60601
1301 Concordia Court
P.O. Box 19277
Springfield, IL 62794-9277
Interested parties can also use the online search tool to find inmates. Using this tool, you can specify how you want to search using the following three criteria:
- Last name
- Illinois Department of Corrections Number
- Date of Birth
These records will allow you to see information on each incarcerated individual, including their admission, discharge/release information, as well as physical data on the inmate in question. Other publicly available information includes the following:
- Sentencing info
- Status, offense, date of custody
- Wanted fugitives
- Outstanding warrants
Inmate Records from County/City Jails
There are 92 jails spread throughout the Illinois 102 counties. The vast majority of these jails will provide public access to inmate records.
Lake County also has an online inmate search that is free to the public and enables you to search by name or booking date.
Driving Records of the State of Illinois
Driving records are also sometimes referred to as motor vehicle reports. A driving record is created from the moment you have a driver’s license and includes a collection of public records about your driving history.
The following information is included in a driving record:
- License suspensions
- Infractions and points (if applicable)
Who can access my driving record?
Driving records can be acquired by anyone as a matter of freedom of information. However, both state and federal law does not allow the Secretary of the State’s office to disclose any identifying information on publicly available driving records.
This means that if you are requesting another individual’s driving records, you will not be able to see their address or other information that may identify them. You will, however, be able to see crash information, convictions, and withdrawals.
In addition, the individual on whom the information is obtained will receive a notification that information has been shared. This notification will include the date of the request and the name of the requestor.
How do I acquire my own driving record?
There are several ways to get your own driving record. The most efficient way is to use the Driving Record Abstract service on the Illinois Secretary of State webpage. You will need a credit card, printer, and the ability to open PDF files.
On the Driving Record Abstract page, enter the following information:
- Driver’s license no.
- Last four digits of your Social Security Number
- License issue date
- License expiration date
- License class
- Your weight
- Your name and the requestors affirmation
Once you have filled out all of the information, you will have to pay the $12 charge + processing fee. You will then be able to print off a certified copy of your driving record. This is the same record that is obtainable from the methods below.
By Mail or In Person
You also have the option of applying for your driving record in person or by mail.
Visit your local Driver Services location and request a Driving Abstract Request Form, fill it out on-site, pay the $12 fee, and you will immediately be given your driving record.
You can also acquire your record by mail. Print out the Driving Record Abstract Request Form, fill it out, and mail the completed form, along with the $12 fee by check or money order (made payable to the Secretary of State), and mail it to the following address:
Driver Analysis Section
2701 South Dirksen Parkway
Springfield, Illinois, 62723
If you are unable, for whatever reason, to request your driving record in any of the above ways, a direct family member (such as spouse, parent, sister, brother, or child) may request it for you, so long as they are currently a resident of Illinois.
They will be required to visit a Diver Services location with written and notarized permission of the individual named on the record, in addition to filling out the request form mentioned above and paying the service fee.
Business Records of the State of Illinois
Federal and state law allows the public to access many records pertaining to various types of businesses. The State of Illinois divides business records into five types:
- Businesses and Non-Profit Corporations
- Limited Liability Companies
- Servicemark and trademarks
- Uniform Commercial Code
Illinois Department of Business Services Database Search
There are several ways to acquire information on the businesses listed above. One way is to search the Department of Business Services database for information on a wide variety of information related to corporations. This search will include information on limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, limited liability companies, non-profit corporations, among several others.
You can search the database by name or file number. It is not intended for bulk searches to use in marketing but rather to download information on individual businesses for personal or research use only.
This search will allow you to view a detailed report on any of the above businesses in the state. You will also be able to receive a Certificate of Good Standing for any business entity.
Any questions can be directed to the Department of Business Services at the following phone number:
Report of File Details or Certificate of Good Standing
You can search the following state database to receive information on any L.L.C. or corporation and receive the following information:
- Exact company name
- Formation date
- Registration date
- Jurisdiction of company
- Years active
- Registered agents name(s)
- Address of registered office
- Names/addresses of president and secretary
- Names of manager(s)
From the above File Detail Report, you may then go on to purchase a Certificate of Good Standing, presuming the business entity satisfies the requirements for one.
The fee to purchase a Certificate of Good Standing for an L.L.C. is $25 plus a processing fee and $5 for a non-profit business. Payment can be made online by credit card.
Current Fees for L.L.C. Business Record Filings
The following is a list of fees for acquiring, amending, or filing documentation about L.L.C.s in the State of Illinois. Many of these records are available to the public provided they pay the fee, but many apply only to the corporations involved.
- Articles of Organization – $150
- Application for Admission – $150
- Restated Articles of Organization – $150
- Articles of Organization-Series – $400
- Application for Admission-Series – $400
- Articles of Amendment – $50
- Amended Application for Admission – $50
- Application for Withdrawal – Domestic – $5
- Name Reservation – $25
- Cancel Name Reservation – $5
- Transfer Name Reservation – $25
- Name Registration Application – $50
- Registered Name Renewal – $50
- Assumed Name – Change – $25
- Assumed Name – Cancel – $5
- Annual Report – $75
- Reinstatement Application – $200
- Petition for Refund – $5
- Statement of Termination – $5
- Application for Withdrawal – Foreign – $5
- Any Other Document – $5
Historical Records of the State of Illinois
The State Archives of Illinois is located in the Capital Complex of Springfield. As is legally required for State law, this facility maintains a repository of public record and historical information on the State of Illinois, its local governments, agencies, and other administrative documents of legal or historical value.
How do I research Illinois State or Regional Archives?
Illinois State Archives provides detailed genealogical research tools on the following records:
- Birth records between c. 1817 – 1915
- Census records between c. 1810 – 1930
- Death records until 1947 (or search the Illinois Death Index)
- Land Sales Records
- Marriage Records
- Military Service Records
- W.W.I. Draft Records
- Veteran Records
The Illinois State Archives administers the Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD). The purpose of IRAD is to manage the significant records about the state’s various local governments that are deemed historically significant.
These archives are located at the seven state universities’ campuses and include the regional archives of municipalities, counties, school districts, and townships.
The following information is available in the archives:
- County meeting minutes or board proceedings
- Historical vital records, land deeds, mortgage records
- Historical tax books from assessors/collectors
- Historical poll books
- Naturalization records
- Historical wills, case files, probate records
- Historical civil/criminal court files
- Chancery court files, docket books, proceedings
- Historical coroners inquests
- Historical county records
- Historical jail registers
- Historical township and municipal records
For more information on the location and availability of records maintained by IRAD, write to the following address:
Illinois State Archives
Springfield, IL 62756
What are the fees for acquiring copies from the Illinois State Archives and IRAD?
You can access the State Archives reading room free of charge, as well as the research rooms available at the university campuses where IRAD documents are maintained. However, there are fees for making copies or providing certification of documents.
The staff of the archives will tell you which documents can be copied and which are too fragile. In those cases, you will not be allowed to make a scan or copy. There is no charge for taking photographs of the documents.
The fees are as follows:
- Research fee for out of state individuals – $10
- Certification of documents – $2 (per certification)
- Land records (federal) – $2 (per page of record)
- Legislation or other governmental bills – $0.50
- Copies of documents that exceed legal-sized paper – $1 (per page)
- Duplication of rolls of microfilm – $20 (per roll)
- Scanned documents onto a burnable CD – $20 (per CD)
Online Genealogy Records for the State of Illinois
If you are doing genealogical research and are looking for further information on vital records, church records, military records, immigration, and naturalization records, there are many third-party organizations that can assist you.
Familysearch.org is one such organization, and you can search their Illinois database at the following link.