New Laws For 2017

Here are some new Illinois laws that went into effect on January 1, 2017…

Criminal Damage to Property Class Level

In 2017, the General Assembly raised the minimum threshold amount of property damage as it relates to class levels. Any damage to property below $500 is a Class A Misdemeanor, while damage above $500 is a Class 4 Felony. Previously, any criminal damage to property exceeding $300, in most circumstances, would constitute a Class A Misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 364 days in county jail and anything over $300 would have become a Class 4 Felony, punishable with prison time between 1-3 years and fine of up to $25,000.

Juvenile Law Changes

New laws impacting juveniles (17 years old or younger) went into effect on January 1, 2017. One law that went into effect involves the classification of certain offenses. Under certain circumstances, Criminal Trespass to a Residence, Criminal Damage to Property, Criminal Damage to Government Supported Property, Criminal Defacement of Property, Disorderly Conduct and Obstruction of Justice constitute a Class 4 Felony, which carries penalties of 1-3 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections and a fine of up to $25,000.00. However, if the above felony offenses are committed by an individual 17 years, the individual is now facing a Class A Misdemeanor.

Another new law affecting juveniles involves their ability to expunge certain offenses. With expungements, under many circumstances, a waiting period must occur before a petition to expunge can be filed. As of January 1, 2017, juveniles do not have to wait to expunge their history as a result of offenses where Court Supervision was successfully completed, or if the offense, if committed by an adult, would have been a Class B misdemeanor, Class C misdemeanor, petty offense or business offense. Additionally, Courts must now automatically grant these petitions to expunge without having any hearing.

Disabled Vehicles

Scott’s Law, which requires drivers to yield to emergency vehicles, or if that emergency vehicle is parked on the road, change lanes to avoid the vehicle, has been on the books for some time in Illinois. Now, this law will extend to disabled private vehicles which are on the roadway. This new law requires individuals to change lanes or, if such lane change is impossible to make safely, to proceed with due caution when near a disabled vehicle which has its hazard lights on. A violation of this law constitutes a petty offense, punishable by up to $1,000.00 in fines and may lead to point assessment by the Secretary of State on one’s driving history.

Guilty Plea Admonishments

Prior to 2017, when an individual plead guilty to a felony or misdemeanor, Courts were required to inform the individual, prior to accepting the plea, the maximum punishment for the offense and any period of Mandatory Supervised Release, if applicable, along with possible immigration consequences. Starting in 2017, the Courts must now, in addition to the above, inform the individual of the: maximum and minimum penalties, any possible increased sentence for prior convictions or future convictions, any registration requirements and the consequences of the plea on the individual’s ability to apply for housing, obtain a job, obtain a driver’s license and firearm possession.

License Plates

In what may seem as a minor new law, all license plates must be clearly visible, legible and free from any materials that would obstruct the visibility of the plate. A violation of this law constitutes a business offense, punishable by fine only. However, the effects of this new law are much more far reaching. As a result of this new law, law enforcement officers have an additional basis to stop a vehicle. Once stopped, discovery of further criminal activity (i.e., driving under the influence or driving with a suspended or revoked license) will be lawful and admissible, and more serious charges other than the business offense can follow as a result.

Expungement Fees

When filing a Petition to Expunge, the Clerk of Court is required to collect a fee for the filing of the petition unless the individual obtains a fee waiver from the Courts. However, for only one year and only in Cook County, if an individual is seeking to expunge or seal records as a result of an arrest and release without being charged, an arrest and charge leading to an acquittal or dismissal, or an arrest and charge that lead to a conviction which was reversed or vacated upon appeal, no feel shall be required of the petitioner.

Expungements with Prior Convictions

Previously, if any person had been convicted of an offense, the law prohibited that person from being able to expunge any subsequent record, even if the subsequent record resulted in a dismissal or acquittal. The only option the individual would have had would be to have the subsequent record sealed.

This changed in 2017. Now, the law permits an individual to seek expungement of any offense that normally would have not been expungable to due to the person’s prior conviction. It is important to note, however, that the State’s Attorney’s Office may still object to the expungement request if the record contains specific relevant information aside from the mere fact of an arrest.

If you are charged with a crime of any kind, we have the knowledge and experience that can help you --- and we have proven results. Call us - Will County and Cook County criminal defense attorneys, at 708-633-6005.

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