Arrest Records in Illinois

Table of Contents

Illinois has a population of 12.74 million, which renders it the 6th most populated state and the 12th most densely populated state in the country. However, it is also one of the fastest shrinking states in the country. The state capital is Springfield and its largest city is Chicago, which has a population of 2.7 million. There are 102 counties in Illinois, the largest being Cook County and the smallest being Hardin County.

Due to high levels of crime in its largest urban area, Illinois has slightly higher levels of crime than the nation, at large. The most dangerous city in Illinois is Danville, which has a violent crime rate nearly five times higher than the national rate. Illinois’ arrest per capita rate is the 29th highest in the nation. 

Illinois Arrest and Crime Statistics

  • In 2018, there were 86,947 arrests in Illinois as reported by two law enforcement agencies. However, the data does not cover all municipalities in the state.
  • There were 5,581 arrests for violent crimes, including 2,422 for robbery, 437 for rape, and 416 for murder and nonnegligent manslaughter.
  • The leading identified reason for arrest in Illinois was drug abuse violations, which accounted for 17,060 arrests, followed by ‘Other assaults’ with 16,749 arrests, and larceny-theft with 9,514 arrests.
  • 2,825 people were arrested for driving under the influence, and 3,261 were arrested for drunkenness. 
  • Illinois has over 34,000 registered sex offenders living in the state.  

Sources: FBI: 2018 Crime in the United States, Illinois Sex Offender Registry 

What is a public arrest record?

An arrest record is a report produced by a law enforcement entity after the arrest or apprehension of an individual which contains the details of the incident, the individual’s personal information, and occasionally includes additional information about the individual’s criminal record.

An arrest record is often a key document in a criminal case and may play a significant role in an ensuing trial. The arrest record may remain in the public record for a long time regardless of whether the suspect is ultimately convicted of the crime(s) for which they were initially arrested. This means that it can be accessed by the general public.  

What is included in a public arrest record?

  • Description of the incident: An arrest record will include a chronological account of the alleged crime produced by the arresting officer that may utilize information provided by first-hand witnesses and/or victims of the alleged crime. 
  • Date and location of the arrest
  • Physical description: The height, weight, hair color, sex, and race of the arrested person, along with other distinguishing characteristics such as tattoos, scars, or birthmarks. 
  • Personal information: The name, age, date of birth, phone number, address, social security number, and other contact information of the arrested individual, as well as any other names the person may go by. 
  • Photographs
  • Fingerprints
  • Criminal charges filed
  • Classification of the crime: Whether the alleged crime is a felony or a misdemeanor.
  • Bail
  • Court date
  • Police interrogation details

What are the types of charges that may appear on an arrest record?

Generally, charges are classified into three main categories:

  • Infraction – An infraction is a minor violation of the law that is regulated at the state level. Punishment for an infraction is typically a fine or a written warning, rather than a jail or prison sentence. Examples of infractions include minor traffic violations, public nuisance offenses, and littering. 
  • Misdemeanor – A misdemeanor is a crime that is more serious than an infraction, but less severe than a felony, and generally punishable by a term of imprisonment of less than a year, or a term of probation. An individual convicted of a misdemeanor is more likely to serve time in a county or local jail than a federal or state prison. Examples of misdemeanors include driving under the influence, most drug abuse violations, and petty theft.
  • Felony – A felony is the most serious type of crime and generally results in a term of imprisonment of more than one year in a state or federal prison. Having a felony on one’s record may result in limitations of employment and the acquisition of specialty licenses. Examples of felonies include rape, murder, and arson.  

Who can access arrest records?

As in most other states, arrest records (also known as arrest reports) are public records in Illinois and can be accessed by anyone upon request to a law enforcement agency, and may come up during a routine background check. 

Other examples of Illinois public records include:

  • vital records such as birth and death certificates
  • marriage licenses
  • mugshots
  • court records
  • voting records
  • property records 

Where are physical copies of arrest records kept in Illinois?

Arrest records are typically held by the law enforcement agency responsible for the arrest, usually a local police department or county sheriff’s office. They also may be kept in the archive of a state government agency, or circuit court. However, there is no official repository for arrest records. 

Why can’t I access an arrest record in Illinois?

There are a number of reasons why you may not be able to access an arrest record. Although the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires federal agencies to release arrest records and other public records, records that fall under certain exemptions can be withheld from the public.

The FOIA includes nine exemptions that allow agencies to withhold documents, such as arrest records, and not release them to the public. They are:

  1. The information is classified to protect natural security. 
  2. The information focuses on the internal rules and practices of the agency.
  3. Another federal law prohibits the release of the information.
  4. The information includes confidential trade secrets and/or commercial and financial information. 
  5. The information includes privileged, confidential communicative exchanges between two agencies. 
  6. The information could pose a danger to another person’s privacy if released.
  7. The information is reserved for law enforcement purposes in a court case or an investigation or could reveal a confidential source. 
  8. The information includes confidential information about financial institution supervision. 
  9. The information includes geographical information about wells.

Additionally, some state laws limit the availability of arrest records due to the fact that they are perceived as one-sided documents that do not include the arrested person’s account of the incident. 

What is the difference between an arrest record and a criminal record?

Compared to an arrest record, a criminal record is a more thorough document that details an individual’s entire criminal history, including arrest warrants, arrests, third party complaints, convictions, and even dropped cases. 

What is the difference between an arrest record and an arrest warrant?

An arrest warrant is a document issued by a judge or magistrate that grants law enforcement the authority to arrest an individual suspected of a crime or to search and seize the individual’s property, whereas an arrest record is a document of an arrest that is only created after an arrest or apprehension has already occurred.  

In order for a judge or magistrate to issue an arrest warrant, they must conclude that there is probable cause for an arrest. Probable cause must be backed by sworn testimony or an affidavit that provides sufficient information supporting the need for an arrest. An arrest warrant must also specify one individual that should be arrested, rather than a group of individuals or a rough description of a suspect. 

How many Americans have been arrested?

While crime has steadily dropped in the United States over the past several decades, arrests have gone up, particularly for younger age groups. Typically, law enforcement makes around 10 million arrests each year. Here are some key statistics on arrests in the United States:

  • In 2018, around 10.3 million arrests were made nationwide.
  • 73% of arrested persons in 2018 were males.
  • The more recent an American was born, the greater the likelihood that the individual has been arrested at least once. The following is the percentage of Americans in various age groups that have been arrested: 
    • 6.4% of Americans  born before 1949
    • 10.7% of Americans born between 1949 and 1958
    • 13.8% of Americans born between 1959 and 1968
    • 18.7% of Americans born between 1969 and 1978
    • 23% of Americans born between 1979-1988

Sources: Federal Bureau of Investigation, RAND Corporation

How to search for Arrest Records in Illinois on the internet

Individuals may search the Illinois State Police database of criminal history information and arrest records using the Criminal History Information Response Process (CHIRP).  In order to use the service, users must enroll to receive a Digital Certificate, as federal law mandates that all criminal history responses sent using the service be encrypted. 

Both Illinois and non-Illinois residents are able to register and use the service, although the registration process for out-of-state users is a bit longer and more complicated. 

A Digital Certificate guarantees that the user will be able to view the encrypted information sent to them. The registration process is as follows:

  1. Visit and click the green box that says “Get a Digital ID
  2. Read through the State of Illinois Digital ID Subscriber Agreement and click one of the “Accept” boxes at the bottom of the page (there’s one for both Illinois and out-of-state residents)
  3. Fill in your personal information on the registration page. You will need a Driver’s license or ID card number.
  4. Upon completion of the registration process, you will select a username and password. 
  5. Enter your username and password at the CHIRP Enhanced Authentication page to begin searching for Illinois arrest records and criminal history information. 

How can I search for an Illinois arrest record on the internet using a background check service?

Since tracking down physical copies of arrest records can prove challenging, searching for them online is a viable option. There is a wealth of online services that allow you to search and access Illinois arrest records and other public records via numerous government agency databases in exchange for a fee. 

However, despite the fact that users must pay to obtain an arrest record from an online service, it’s nevertheless a convenient means of getting these documents. The offices of government agencies are often marred by inconsistent service and take a long time to process requests to view documents. 

Sometimes it’s worth it to pay a fee to use an online background check service, rather than endure the extended delays typical of government offices.  

What can I do if my arrest record has a mistake?

Illinois residents may legally challenge inaccurate or incomplete information on an arrest record or other state criminal history document, but the Record Challenge process is a bit complicated and requires a trip to a local law enforcement agency. The Record Challenge process is free, although the fingerprint service may require a fee, depending on where you get it done. Here’s how to complete the process:

  1. Visit the office of an Illinois law enforcement agency, correctional facility, or licensed fingerprint vendor agency (here’s a list of licensed vendors) and request a criminal history transcript.
  2. The agency or facility will take your fingerprints and personal information and forward them to the Illinois State Police for verification.
  3. After the verification process, the Illinois State Police will send you a criminal history transcript (if one exists) along with a Record Challenge form.
  4. Complete the Record Challenge form and mail or deliver it to the Illinois State Police. You may list your local law enforcement agency or correctional facility as the address for which you’d prefer the ISP response to be sent. 
  5. After receiving the Record Challenge form, the Illinois State Police will respond in detail about which steps have been taken to correct the arrest record or other criminal history information, or whether they have not taken any such action. 


If you’re worried that someone you know or love has a criminal record and maybe hiding it from you, run a quick background check online with Thanks to public records laws, almost all Illinois arrests, criminal and civil records are available online, as well as comprehensive background checks and secret data. You can even find Illinois marriage records, secret divorce records as well as birth and death records.

Violent Crime rate 

Property Crime rate 

Murder Crime rate 

Forcible Rape rate 

Robbery rate 

Assault rate 

Burglary rate 

Theft rate 

Motor Vehicle Theft rate