Highlighting the New Laws that relate to criminal defense matters in Illinois this year.
New Illinois Criminal Defense Laws
As the new year rolled in, so did enactment of many new Illinois criminal laws. In general, we can see trends towards more confidential recordkeeping, heavier penalties for haters, and consideration for our prisons. Here's some highlights of the new Illlinois criminal laws that we are most likely to help our clients with here at Gardi & Haught.
Good News for Past Offenders.....
IL HB514 This bill allows for individuals who have been charged with a crime but then acquitted or dismissed to have their records immediately sealed, meaning they are taken out of public access. This will now happen immediately by the circuit court clerk without further action required by the Defendant or his/her attorney. It's a good legislation for those charged with a crime in the past, but the charge was later dismissed or there was a not guilty finding after a trial. The bill ensures that their criminal record will no longer be easily visible to the public, prospective employers, etc.
IL HB3718 If you had a juvenile record which was never expunged, the new law now protects that record from public access. The record is now sealed and cannot be disclosed except through a court order. Confidentiality is also protected upon threat of misdemeanor charge.
Watch Out, Racists, Cyberstalkers and Other Haters...
IL HB2390 Hate crimes have always been reviled in Illinois, but this bill stiffens the penalties, removing the intent requirement when performed in a place of worship as well as the $1,000 restitution cap. The bill mandates the offender serve 200 hours of community service and attend an educational program discouraging hate crimes. Also, convicted offenders can receive a sentence for the hate crime itself on top of any prison time given for other convictions.
IL HB 3054 This law makes it easier for people to report inappropriate comments, or otherwise offensive language or behavior that may be used by a circuit court judge. Public Notices must be posted which shall include details about how one may file a complaint against a presiding circuit court judge.
IL HB3251 Thinking of cyberspying on someone? This new bill makes it a Class 4 felony to install, conceal or otherwise place electronic tracking software or spyware on another's electronic communication device or vehicle without the consent of owners and primary users. This situation occurs most often (but not limited to) cases of current and former domestic relationships where one partner is attempting to track the whereabouts of the other without their knowledge.
New Illinois Criminal Laws With Our Prisons in Mind...
SB1722 This piece of legislation attempts to reduce violent crime in neighborhoods. The law imposes tougher sentencing for drug dealers and those in illegal possession of firearms by raising minimum jail sentences. However, it also provides for a departure from the sentencing when appropriate to focus on sending only the most violent offenders to prison.
IL HB2034 With our prison systems becoming more overcrowded, this new Illinois criminal law encourages the creation of a risk assessment scale for those who are in custody and must appear before a judge for a bond hearing. This risk assessment scale will help a judge determine if the accused is truly a threat to society for purposes during the pendency of their criminal case. By reducing unnecessary high bail (especially for first offenders) and using electronic monitoring, the number of non-violent offenders in our prisons can be reduced and more room made to keep the most violent incarcerated.
And More Laws to Make Sure Nothing Falls Through the Cracks...
IL HB2559 Thinking of changing your name? Now persons 18 years of age or older who petition for a change of name must initiate a criminal records check with the Department of State Police. Any records found will be attached to the petition. The courts will then be required to forward a copy of the name change order to the Illinois State Police. This bill will make criminal searches more accurate and disallow the use of aliases.
IL HB3084 This law lifts the statute of limitations for victims of car accidents where the party at fault was driving without a valid, current license or was under the influence and the violation was a proximate cause of death for the victim. Legal action can now be pursued at any time, even years after the event, if the plaintiffs can provide sufficient medical evidence that the past accident is causally linked to the victim's death.
IL SB1276 When a Defendant's fitness to stand trial is called into question, oftentimes a finding of fitness is determined by the Clinical Psychologists used by the Court to make those determinations. In some cases, this fitness to stand trial may not be permanent or a person's mental status is in a state of deterioration. In those instances, this Senate Bill requires the evaluator to generate an additional report that will inform the Court whether or not the Defendant is likely to maintain fitness.
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