New Illinois Criminal Laws Take Effect January 1

Published: Jan 06, 2017, by admin in Criminal Defense, Legal Blog

Starting January 1, a number of new Illinois laws went into effect. Many of these statutes alter your rights while you drive or if you are charged with a criminal offense. Take a look at some of the important changes to ensure you understand your rights at all times. Not knowing better isn’t a defense if you are accused of breaking the law.

If you have any questions or have been charged with an offense under a recently effective statute, contact O’Meara Law at 312-909-0706 to schedule a consultation. We can help you navigate the complex Illinois criminal justice process and start to build a strong defense against allegations made.

New Traffic Laws

There are a number of new traffic violations you should avoid:

  • HB 5723: Any individual convicted of operating a vehicle without auto insurance is guilty of a petty offense instead of a business offense, unless the person has three or more previous convictions for the same offense.
  • HB 6010: The crime of vehicular endangerment now includes hitting a vehicle by dropping an object from an overpass or another higher position in the direction of a moving vehicle with the intent to strike a vehicle while it is moving on the highway.
  • SB 2806: This increased the fine for violating railroad crossing laws to $500 from $250 for a first offense.
  • HB 6006: Vehicles are required to change lanes when coming toward a vehicle with its hazard lights, or “blinkers” on, or if unsafe to do so, reduce the speed of the vehicle. Failing to do so is a business offense resulting in a $100 fine.
  • SB 2835: Vehicles must stop before passing or driving past a stopped school bus on a public school highway.

If you are ticketed for a traffic violation, you should think twice before simply paying the fine. The ticket may seem like it goes away, but you could face serious consequences of pleading guilty. Speak with attorney Michael O’Meara about your options before you tarnish your driving record.

New Criminal Laws

Illinois created a few new criminal offenses and altered how some criminal matters are handled.

  • SB 0210: The Bath Salts Prohibition Act bans the sale of “bath salts,” which is now a Class 3 felony, and enables local governments to revoke a retailer’s license if a violation occurs.
  • SB 2876: This adds money laundering to the list of offenses that can be joined into one count of a criminal indictment, rather than prosecuted separately.
  • SB 2907: This bill raises the minimum amount of property damage, institutional vandalism, and defacement of property from $300 to $500 in which the offense is moved from a misdemeanor to a felony.
  • SB 3164: This changes prison terms for people convicted of a Class 3 or 4 felony, but who had no prior convictions. When probation or conditional discharge is an available sentence, the court must make a finding as to why neither of these is an appropriate sentence and the defendant should be sentenced to imprisonment.
  • HB 2569: If a defendant pleads guilty, the plea will not be accepted until the court explains maximum and minimum penalties, any possible increased sentence, any registration and restriction requirements associated with the plea, and the consequences a defendant’s ability to apply for housing, get a job, obtain a driver’s license, or possess a firearm

Criminal matters, whether they are charged as a misdemeanor or felony, need to be taken seriously. Attorney Michael O’Meara will investigate the charges against you, including whether it is possible to have the charges reduced or dismissed. By working with an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney, you have the greatest chance of obtaining the best possible outcome in your case.

New Juvenile Laws

The Illinois’ legislature also changed a number of laws regarding juvenile proceedings:

  • SB 2777: Minors will not be committed to Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) facilities for committing crimes that are not felonies or for certain non-violent felonies, including criminal trespass, property damage, or disorderly conduct.
  • HB 6291: A minor may not be committed to the DJJ for certain controlled substances violations unless it is their third or subsequent judicial finding of a probation violation.
  • SB 2370: Minors under the age of 15 charged with murder or sexual assault must be represented by a lawyer throughout the interrogation.
  • HB 5017: Individuals with juvenile records can petition for expungement at any time and the court must grant the request automatically if the person was never charged,the charges were dismissed, the person was found not delinquent, the person was given supervision and completed it successfully, or the offense if it were committed by an adult would have been a Class B or C misdemeanor.

Contact a Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

If you are have been charged with a criminal offense, do not wait to obtain experienced counsel. At O’Meara Law, we will immediately look into what we can do to improve your situation, whether that is having you released from prison, seeking to have the charges dismissed, or asking the court to exclude improperly obtained evidence. Whatever your situation, we will strive to protect your rights at all times and fight for your freedom in court.

Call us today at 312-909-0706 to schedule a consultation and begin building your defense.