RAP Sheets: Accessing Your Cook County Police Record

RAP Sheet, Criminal history, Illinois Expungement AttorneyHave you ever wondered how the word “rap” came to mean “reputation?” Of course, it is almost always used in with a negative connotation, as someone with a shady past may be said to have a “bad rap.” Interestingly, it turns out that “rap” is not a colloquial shortening of “reputation,” but instead is an acronym taken from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as the FBI established an interstate standard for criminal history record-keeping. An individual’s criminal history is known as a Record of Arrests and Prosecution, or RAP Sheet.

If you have a criminal history, it is very important to have clear understanding of what may be listed on your RAP Sheet. Criminal background checks are a fairly common practice for employment, volunteer work, and other applications, and reviewing your history first can help prevent problems. Obtaining a copy of your RAP Sheet can help you:

  • Find and address inaccuracies before they present issues;
  • Accurately complete applications which require the disclosure of criminal history;
  • Prepare for interview questions;
  • Recognize the impact of future prosecution and/or convictions; and
  • Understand your potential eligibility for expungement or record sealing.

While the federal government and the State of Illinois maintain their own criminal records, you can easily obtain a copy of your Cook County RAP Sheet. Depending on whether or not you live in Chicago, you must follow one of two processes.

As a Chicago resident, you must personally appear at the City of Chicago building on South Michigan Avenue. You are required to show a valid driver’s license or state-issued identification and pay a processing fee by cash, check, or money order. A Request for Access and Review form must then be completed, and you will be fingerprinted. Your RAP Sheet will be available for pickup after 5 business days, and will only be given to you; a friend or family member will not be permitted to pick it up for you.

Outside of Chicago, all of the same elements must be included, but the request is made by mail. Enclose a copy of your driver’ license or ID, a check or money order for the processing fee, a fingerprint card from a local police agency, a letter explaining your request, and self-addressed stamped envelope. Again, your RAP Sheet will be mailed your home address, and the process is not be utilized by any other party seeking your information.

These processes also create an opportunity to view your Illinois RAP Sheet as well. The Chicago police department will automatically forward your information and fingerprints to the Illinois Bureau of Identification. By law, copies of your state history cannot be made, you will have one month to schedule an appointment to view your state RAP Sheet.

If you have questions about how your criminal background can impact your life, or you believe your RAP Sheet contains errors, contact an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney. At the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney, we understand the challenges you may be facing and are committed to helping you protect your rights.

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