New Laws For 2020

Here are some of the new laws that went into effect on January 1, 2020…

Violence in Places of Worship

Lawmakers have taken steps to protect those in a place of worship by making simple assault or simple battery against a person situated on the grounds of a place of worship aggravated in nature. The law makes no distinction as to whether or not the individual is actually practicing any religious activity at the time of the assault or battery. Thus, an assault or battery, completely unrelated to any religious activity, so long as it was committed on the grounds of a place of worship, is sufficient to charge as aggravated under this new law.

However, if great bodily harm or permanent disability is inflicted upon a member of a congregation who is actively engaged in prayer or other religious activity occurs, the charge becomes a Class 2 felony Battery, punishable by 3 to 7 years in state prison. Additionally, unlawfully possessing a firearm in a place of worship also becomes a Class 2 felony.

Monetary Credit for Pre-Trial Incarceration

For the longest time, individuals who were in custody who could not afford bail were provided a $5 credit for each day they were in pre-trial custody upon an assessment of fines in their case. Oftentimes, this per-day credit was nominal relative to the sometimes exorbitant fines assessed by a Court upon a plea of guilty or conviction for an offense.

Beginning in 2020, this pre-trial custody per day credit increases to $30. This change in law is expected to create one less burden on an inmate when they are sentenced for an offense, as the failure to make payments on a fine has often caused a violation to be filed by the State’s Attorney’s Office.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident and Aggravating Factors

Starting in the New Year, a Court can now take into account that an individual who committed the offense of Leaving the Scene of an Accident was either under the influence of alcohol or using a cellphone or other electronic device in increasing the possible penalties if the accident resulted in the death of a person. Such an offense is generally punishable by 4 to 15 years in state prison. If a Court determines that intoxication or an electronic device was present at the time, a Court may be more likely to sentence an individual towards the top of this sentencing range.

Cameras on the Expressway

Cameras have been used more and more recently on Cook County highways for investigating the rash of shootings occurring on highways. The General Assembly has now empowered any law enforcement agency to access said videos and still images to investigate certain activities/offenses. These are limited only to offenses involving the use of a firearm and to detect expressway hazards. The General Assembly has explicitly stated that the cameras cannot be used to investigate petty offenses, which generally include certain speeding offense.

Vehicle Light Tinting

Lawmakers in Illinois have now prohibited the use of smoked/tinted lighting lens or lens covers on any vehicle moving or being driven in the state. Officers now have an independent basis to support reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle even without any other traffic violation, if the officer observes smoked or tinted lights. This may allow the officer to conduct further investigation into the identity of the driver and passengers and contents of the vehicle, if during the stop, the officer forms an independent basis for the investigation.

Scott’s Law Fine Increase

Scott’s Law, or the Move-Over Law, requires a driver approaching a stationary emergency vehicle to change lanes to increase its distance from the emergency vehicle. Prior to 2020, the mandatory minimum fine for a violation of Scott’s law was $100. Starting in the New Year, this mandatory minimum rises to $250 for a first offense and $750 for a second or subsequent violation.

Illegal School Bus Passing Fine Increase

Drivers are required to stop their vehicle when approaching a school bus which is letting on or letting off students, regardless of whether or not the school bus is displaying any extended stop sign. Previously, a violation of this law led to a mandatory fine of $100 for a first offense and $500 for a second or subsequent offense, along with possible driver’s license suspension. Beginning in 2020, the license sanction remains in effect, but the mandatory fine for a first offense increases to $300, with a second or subsequent violation leading to a mandatory minimum $1,000 fine.

Statute of Limitations and Certain Sex Offenses

In the past, charges for Criminal Sexual Assault, Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault and Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse could not be brought against a person, generally, after 10 years. This is called the Statute of Limitations and, generally, would prohibit prosecutors from pursuing an individual on such a charge. Starting in 2020, however, the Statute of Limitations has been removed for these offenses, meaning charges could be brought against a person any time after the occurrence of the offense.

Tobacco Use in a Vehicle with a Minor

With the recent increase in the smoking age in Illinois to 21, the General Assembly has acted to further protect minors from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke. It is now a petty offense, punishable by fine only, for any person to smoke in a vehicle if the vehicle contains a person under the age of 18. The offense for such is a fine of up $100, with a second or subsequent offense leading to a fine of up to $250. Lastly, a police officer cannot stop a vehicle or search the vehicle solely for a violation or suspected violation of this law.

Detaining and Questioning a Minor Student

Police and/or school personnel must now attempt to notify a student’s parents or guardian prior to any attempt to question the student regarding a criminal act. Police and/or school personnel must also make reasonable efforts to ensure the parent or guardian is present during any questioning and, if the parent or guardian is not present, to have a school social worker, psychologist, nurse, counselor or other mental health professional present during the questioning. This new law, however, is exempted if a reasonable person believes that doing the above would lead to the bodily harm or injury to a person, if the student is armed or fleeing or if the notification would allow the student to destroy evidence.

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