The easiest scenario is the one in which they all share the same outcome; that is, they are all found not guilty or the case is dismissed. If that were to happen, then all three would be able to expunge the charge quickly and easily.
From there, the boys’ paths drastically diverge. The next step up in possible outcomes would be if the judge gave an order of court supervision. Supervision is essentially the court deciding to delay the case before dismissing it. This is usually given to first time offenders in misdemeanor cases. What would happen is the judge would tell the defendants that if they perform certain requirements (often community service, anger management, etc.) then after a prescribed time period (6 months, 1 year, etc.), the judge would discharge the case. So long as the supervision terminates satisfactorily, this sentence is not technically a conviction.
If we assume for now that all three receive supervision, then the juvenile will be able to expunge his record as soon as he turns 17 or when the supervision terminates, whichever occurs later. For the two adults, it’s not so easy. Typically, when an adult receives supervision for an offense, they will be eligible to expunge the case after a prescribed waiting period (usually two years). However, there are a few notable exceptions to this standard. One of which is that the court may not order an expungement (or sealing) for any conviction or supervision that resulted from a sexual offense committed against a minor. Because the alleged victim is 16-years-old, this exception would apply. So even though the 17 and 19-year-olds would not be convicted in this scenario, they would not be eligible to expunge or seal under Illinois law. Obviously, the same will still hold true for these two if they are convicted of the charge as well.
Once again though, the juvenile would still be able to clear his record easily. In juvenile court, the defendant isn’t found guilty or not guilty, but rather the court will determine if he is “delinquent” of the offense. If the juvenile charged in this case is found delinquent, then he would still be eligible to expunge his record after he turns 21 or five years after the sentence terminates, whichever occurs later.
That’s not to say that the 17 and 19-year-old would be without options. There is always the possibility of executive clemency (Governor’s pardon). But that process is considerably longer and more complicated, and it would likely be many years before they are really good candidates for clemency.
All in all, this case serves as another reminder that relatively arbitrary decision of when a person becomes a legal adult can have large scale consequences.