What Should I do After a Hit-and-Run?
Being involved in a car accident is never easy. There can be serious injuries sustained, insurance claims to handle, medical bills to pay, and car damages to repair. One thing that makes this situation worse is if the other car does not stop after the accident. Under Illinois statute, leaving the scene of an accident when that accident results in personal injury or death is a Class 4 Felony. There are serious consequences related to this, including hefty fines, a prison sentence, and the possibility of a civil lawsuit by the injured party to recover damages, including punitive damages.
If you are involved in a hit-and-run accident, there are a few things that you must do.
- Treat Injuries: If you have been in a car accident, the first priority is to make sure that you are safe and that any injuries are being attended to. Seek medical attention for anyone who is injured right away.
- File a Police Report: Even if the other car involved in the accident flees the scene, contact local law enforcement immediately to report the accident. The police will come to the scene of the accident and make a record of the accident that can be used in future legal battles.
- Document Damages: While at the scene of the accident, you should take photographs of the damage that was done to your car. Also, you should take photos of the surroundings and any other circumstances that may have caused the accident, like hidden signs, large potholes, or any other environmental factor. In addition to photographs, keep track of any documents relating to the crash. Keep a record of the police report, expenses for repairing your car, doctor’s notes, and medical bills. These photographs and documents will be used in future litigation or insurance claims to prove your damages.
- Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company: In addition to making a police report, you also need to call your insurance company and inform them of the accident and damages. Under most insurance policies, you cannot collect insurance proceeds when the responsible driver cannot be found, but there could be the potential to recover under uninsured motorist coverage.
- Consult an Attorney: Contacting an experienced attorney is essential to make sure that the hit-and-run is handled in the appropriate way. If you have sustained injuries in a hit-and-run accident, there is the possibility of recovery. If the responsible driver is found, you may be able to file a personal injury suit to recover damages. There is the possibility of recovery for medical bills, lost wages, future pain and suffering, and even punitive damages.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a hit-and-run, contact Hamilton & Antonsen, Ltd. The Joliet personal injury attorneys will make sure that you receive the just compensation to which you are entitled. Contact us today and we will help you through this difficult time.
What is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and Felony?
Being charged with a crime can be terrifying. You probably have a lot of questions: What is the crime? What kind of trouble will I get in? What are the penalties? One of the biggest questions might be in regards to the classification of the crime for which you have been charged. The two most common crimes classifications are misdemeanors and felonies. Each of these have different characteristics and carry a vast difference in penalties.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony
In Illinois, a misdemeanor is a lower level crime than a felony. Generally, misdemeanors are for offenses that are less serious. Felonies are the most serious crimes that can be committed. One of the biggest differences between these classifications is the potential for jail time. A misdemeanor can only be punished by a jail term maximum of one year, whereas a felony carries a minimum of one year of time in jail. Time for misdemeanors is usually served in county jail, and jail time for felonies occurs in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
It is important to note that a person might not have to serve jail time, for either a misdemeanor or a felony. There are other penalties available for the judge to choose from, depending on the crime.
Aside from a crime being designated as a misdemeanor or a felony, there are classifications within each. A misdemeanor is divided into classes A-C, with A being the most severe of the crimes. The most serious felony is a Class X. From Class X, there are Classes 1-4. Class 1 is the more serious crime, and Class 4 is the least severe.
Misdemeanors and felonies have different impacts on your criminal record. Jobs, landlords, and government agencies are just a few examples of organizations that conduct background checks on potential employees or tenants. A misdemeanor is likely to be less of a “red flag” because of the less serious nature of the crime. Some misdemeanors can be sealed, meaning that they are essentially taken off of your criminal record and will not show up on background check. Sealing a misdemeanor is giving yourself a “do over.” Felonies, on the other hand, are generally not sealable. There are only a few felonies that can be sealed on your record. A felony on a background check could keep you from getting the apartment or job of your dreams.
Why are There Classifications?
Making sure the “punishment fits the crime” is a big consideration in sentencing and criminal law. Committing murder, for example, would obviously carry a higher penalty than stealing a shirt from a department store.
It is important to not that all crimes should be taken seriously. Severity of crime, in this sense, is taking about the penalties associated with it. Saying a misdemeanor is less severe is not discounting the seriousness of being charged with a crime or an injury to the perpetrator or victim.
If you have been charged with a crime, either a misdemeanor or a felony, contact the Joliet attorneys at Hamilton & Antonsen, Ltd. We will explain your options in any given charge and come up with the plan to deal with it. Contact us today.
In Illinois anyone arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs must undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation for sentencing purposes. Evaluations can also be conducted when requesting reinstatement of driving privileges. Joliet, Plainfield, and other Will County area residents should be informed of what this evaluation is because it can have serious repercussions on the consequences of a DUI arrest.
The state requires drug and alcohol evaluations to determine a defendant’s history with drugs/ alcohol and assess any risk the defendant may pose to society. Evaluators conduct an interview with the defendant and also consider the defendant’s driving record, blood alcohol test results, and also Objective test scores and category. During the interview, Evaluators are particularly concerned with past and current drug and alcohol use as it pertains to driving. Any inconsistencies between the defendant’s responses and the record may result in a denial of driving privileges, delays in DUI sentencing or consideration of driving privileges, or an order for a new evaluation at the defendants expense.
Once the Evaluation is completed, the defendant is assigned a risk classification, from minimal to high risk, and a recommendation is made to the Court. Each level of risk carries with it a recommended course of education or treatment. For instance, a recommendation for minimal risk might require completion of 10 hours of DUI Risk Education, and, a high risk recommendation might require 75 hours of drug abuse treatment and participation in ongoing treatment plans. The Court will ultimately decide what level of risk the defendant poses, and the higher the risk, the greater sanction to be enforced. If the evaluation is for the return of driving privileges, the defendant will be required to complete the recommended course of education or treatment.
Defendants have the right to reject completed recommendations, withdraw from an ongoing evaluation, or get a second opinion from another evaluator. However, any information the defendant has provided can be sent to the Court or the Secretary of State.
Evaluators are professionals and licensed by the State. There are many evaluation centers located throughout Will County. Joliet, Plainfield and other Will County residents can visit the Will County Public Defender Website, http://www.willcountypublicdefender.com for a list of centers, addresses and phone numbers. To speak with a lawyer who has experience representing clients who have been charged with a DUI, please contact Hamilton & Antonsen at 815.729.9220 to set up a complimentary consultation.
Written by: John Kunze
If you are a Will County or Illinois resident who has been ticketed for driving with an expired registration, your first step should be renewing it to show you are now driving with a valid registration. In Will County or anywhere in Illinois, the penalty for driving with expired registration is a $90 fine. Additionally, a person renewing their registration over 30 days late will be assessed a $20 late registration fee.
If an Illinois resident was caught driving with expired registration in Joliet, the resident would want to contact the Joliet court listed on the ticket and find out what the usual fine is. During this phone call the resident should find out whether renewing the registration before the court date will help with the citation.
Having expired registration can have other consequences. If for example, a Will County resident with expired car registration parked in Chicago for an evening, they would be subject to a parking ticket for having that expired registration.
However, an Illinois resident that has renewed their registration and has subsequently been ticketed for expired registration can bring proof of that registration to court. This may happen when a person has renewed their registration and has not yet received their sticker.
If you or someone you know lives in Joliet or Will County, Illinois and has any questions or concerns regarding being ticketed for expired registration contact Hamilton & Antonsen at 815.729.9220 to set up a free consultation.
Written by: Michael Pollock
Driving without in insurance in Joliet or Will County, Illinois could result in some very high fines. The minimum fine for traffic in Illinois is $500 for a first time offense. The maximum fine is $1,000 for a first time offense. An Illinois’ resident who is fined for driving without insurance will also have his/her license plate (on the uninsured car) suspended for 3 months. In order to reinstate the license plate, an Illinois resident will have to appear in court, prove the car is now insured and pay a $100 reinstatement fee.
There are other options for a Joliet or Will County resident as well. Illinois’ mandatory insurance law specifically allows for dispositions of court supervision, as opposed to convictions, under certain circumstances. The law states that if you have not previously been convicted of or placed on court supervision for violating the insurance law, and you prove at your court appearance that the vehicle currently is covered by insurance, then you will be granted court supervision and fined only $100.00. Note that a person only needs to show that the car is currently insured, not that it was insured during the time of the violation.
If a person does not qualify for supervision and cannot afford an uninsured motorist ticket, they are left with 2 options. These options are to pay the fine without going to court, or go to court to pay the fine. The Will County clerk explains that if a person does go to court the violator could have thier fines reduced to $250. Also, a Joliet or Will County resident can also make a payment plan with the judge when they are in court. These options are not available to those who do not attend their court dates.
There are many potential benefits to attending your court date. Many of these benefits are circumstantial but can be very helpful to an Illinois resident who has recently been ticketed. If you or someone you know has received a ticket for driving without insurance and live in Will County or Joliet, Illinois, contact Hamilton & Antonsen at 815.729.9220 to set up a free consultation.
If you live in Joliet or Will County, Illinois, and have struggled one way or another because of a criminal conviction on your record, what can you do? In 2010 Illinois passed the Criminal Identification Act which will allow you, or anyone you know with a criminal conviction to “expunge” that conviction off of your record. In order to expunge a criminal record a person must first find out if they qualify. Before we get to qualification, we should know why expunging a record in important.
A person living in Joliet or Will County, Illinois, who has a criminal conviction on their record may have a harder time finding employment, getting good rates on insurance and even may be denied housing by a landlord, all because someone made one mistake. Thankfully, Illinois has given residents a chance to clear their record by expungement, if they qualify.
The basis for qualification differ depending on what the original criminal conviction was. However, if a resident of Joliet or Will County Illinois meets the following criteria, they have a good chance of qualifying for expungement:
- An Illinois resident has no pending criminal actions against them, and all criminal actions against them have reached a final order or disposition.
- An Illinois resident has no prior criminal convictions. (If a resident does have a prior criminal arrest or conviction their record may still be eligible expungement if they were granted probation or supervision.).
Even if a resident of Will County Illinois does have a prior conviction they may still qualify in getting their record sealed. A sealed record is similar to expungement, in that no one will be able to see the conviction on your record. However, unlike expungement, the conviction is still in your file and may be seen with the permission of a court order.
There are huge benefits for an Illinois resident who expunges or seals his criminal record. While there are general guidelines for knowing whether or not you qualify for expungement, it can be a confusing and intimidating process. If you have any questions pertaining to the sealing or expungement of your criminal record contact Hamilton & Antonsen at 815.729.9220 to set up a complimentary consultation with an experienced attorney.