Illinois public records are all physical and electronic documents collected or generated in any public agency in the state. Illinois’ Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) makes it the right of individuals in the state to access public records.
Public agencies, including all arms of government, public schools, state bureaus, state institutions, and their subsidiaries, are bound by FOIA. However, FOIA does not cover state departments established under the Child Death Review Team Act. Also, the public can not access information from Institutions under the Department of Children and Family Services Statewide Youth Advisory Board Act.
Members of the public often exercise their right to public records. Here are some common record requests from public offices.
Arrest Records in Illinois
In Illinois, the local sheriff departments and other law enforcement agencies record arrest details. The name, the offense, arrest date, location, the arresting officer, including bail information, are all kept in record.
Arrest records in Illinois are available to the public for inspection. To access arrest records in Illinois, interested persons can visit the arresting law enforcement agency.
Criminal Records in Illinois
Detailed information on convicted criminals constitutes criminal records in Illinois. This information includes conviction details, incarceration details, arrest records, and a detailed offender description. Also included in criminal records is a history of all previous convictions and arrests.
By the Uniform Conviction Information Act (UCIA), the public can legally access a unified criminal records database. The state’s Bureau of Investigation serves as a repository for all criminal records in Illinois, maintaining a registry of criminal history.
Illinois Inmate Records
From county jails to maximum-security prisons, law enforcement agencies and correctional facilities keep records of individuals under detention in the state. The public has the right to inspect the records of persons detained in the local police department and inmates in the state prison system.
The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) maintains a searchable database of inmates in the state. Interested persons can search for individuals in custody online through the IDOC website. Alternatively, the public can call the department of corrections on (217) 558-2200. By completing an online form, interested persons can also contact Illinois’ corrections department.
Illinois Sex Offender Information
An individual convicted of any sexual offense is a sex offender in Illinois. The information of known sex offenders is made available to the public. It is mandatory for sex offenders in Illinois to register with the state’s Sex Offender Registry. Registration information includes name, offense, address, and a photo of the sex offender.
The Illinois States Police (ISP) maintains a searchable online database of sex offenders in the state.
Interested persons have the option of searching for sex offenders by location. Alternatively, interested individuals can either contact the Illinois Sex Offender Registry Team (ISORT) by calling (888) 414-7678 or the Sex Offender Registration Unit by calling (217) 785-0653.
Illinois Court Records
The various court clerks in Illinois document events from court proceedings and cases in the state. These documents are available for public inspection following procedures laid out by the court offices.
Members of the public can access records from Illinois Courts by requesting at the court of the case filling. There are over 100 courts in the state, all having accessible records through the various court clerks. You can find your court of interest using an online portal provided on the state courts’ website.
Note that protocols for accessing court records may differ depending on the court.
Vital Records in Illinois
Vital records in Illinois refer to documents about important life occurrences such as birth, marriage, divorce, and death. The Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Statistics is the official custodian of vital records in the state.
Birth and death records are available at the Division of Vital Statistics. However, these records are restricted to close family members or individuals with legal authority.
Interested persons can only access marriage records by going to the county clerk in the location of the marriage establishment. Similarly, individuals can obtain divorce records and certificates through the local county circuit court clerk.
Although the Division of Vital Statistics does not issue marriage or divorce certificates, it can verify the facts of a marriage or its dissolution for a fee of $5.
Interested persons can obtain a birth certificate online, by mail, by fax, or in person.
To access death records in the state, individuals would have to apply for Illinois death records.
Interested persons can apply for marriage verification or apply for divorce verification by filling the respective forms. Send verification requests to:
Illinois Department of Public Health
Division of Vital Records
925 East Ridgely Avenue,
Springfield, IL 62702-2737
Illinois Property Record
Documented information about properties in Illinois is available for public inspection. Unlike some other public records, Illinois does not maintain a database of properties at the state level. Persons interested in obtaining property records can do so at the local district level. The various County Assessor’s Offices across the state keep a record of property information in their localities.
Illinois Business Records
The Office of the Illinois Secretary of State via its Department of Business Services is responsible for records about businesses registered in the state. Individuals can search an online database of business entities maintained by the Department of Business services. Alternatively, interested persons can contact the business services department by calling (217) 782-6961.
For other records maintained by the Office of the Illinois Secretary of States, including vehicle records and driver’s license information, contact the office at:
Office of the Illinois Secretary of State
213 State Capitol
Springfield, IL 62756
Illinois Bankruptcy Records
Individuals and business entities unable to maintain their obligations to their creditors can file for bankruptcy in Illinois. The United States Bankruptcy Court is responsible for bankruptcy cases in Illinois. Below are the three bankruptcy district courts in Illinois:
- United States Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Illinois having court locations at Chicago, Rockford, Joliet, Lake County, and Kane County.
- United States Bankruptcy Court, Central District of Illinois having courts located in Urbana, Springfield, and Peoria.
- United States Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Illinois having courts located at St.Louis and Benton.
By law, case records are available to the public for viewing through the clerks of the courts. Interested persons can visit the court location of a case filing for information.
Alternatively, individuals can access federal case information through PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records). The public can subscribe to PACER and access bankruptcy case records in Illinois for a $0.10 fee per page.
Government agencies and public offices record all their dealings with the public and other service bodies. All documents, physical and electronic, collected or generated in the course of their operations are public records. These pubic records are available to any interested person for viewing and copying, provided the individual meets the agency’s requirements.
Public offices often restrict access to some documents for security reasons. Agencies can also remove records, making them completely inaccessible to the public. Note that only eligible individuals or persons with legal authorization can access restricted documents. The government agency determines eligibility by setting parameters for records access.
It is also important to note that some records attract charges to obtain.