I Found Out I Have a Warrant for My Arrest in Will County, Illinois? What’s next? Should I Hire an Attorney?

A warrant is a written order from a court directed to an officer of the law commanding them to arrest a person. There are two types of warrants that can be issued. The first type of warrant is a bench warrant. A bench warrant is one usually issued when a person has failed to appear in court. Bench warrants are most common in traffic offense cases. The second type of warrant is an arrest warrant that is started by a police officer. In order to obtain an arrest warrant, the police officer must make a statement to the court explaining why they believe that the person has committed a crime. If the judge accepts the explanation, the warrant is signed and the officer can proceed with making an arrest.

Warrants in Will County or other Illinois counties, can be issued for ordinance violations, traffic offenses, felonies and misdemeanors, just to name a few. A traffic warrant, for example, is issued when a person fails to pay traffic fines or appear in court. When you find out that you have a warrant out for your arrest, no matter which kind, the next best step to take is to contact an experienced attorney. The attorney can contact the court that issued the warrant, find out further details and set up a date for you to appear in court and for you to pay any fines that may be attached to the warrant.

Once you find out you have a warrant out for your arrest, contacting a Joliet or Will County attorney will be very beneficial to help you through the process. If you have recently discovered that you have a warrant out for your arrest or have questions about the warrant process in Will County, Illinois, contact Hamilton & Antonsen at 815.729.9220 to set up a free consultation.

How Do Criminal Offenses Affect Deportation in Illinois?

A non-citizen facing a criminal misdemeanor charge in Joliet or Will County, Illinois, is subject to federal deportation laws. Under federal law a legal or illegal immigrant can be deported for committing certain criminal actions. Not all criminal misdemeanors in Illinois are deportable offenses, but many of them are.

The first class of deportable offenses that may be considered misdemeanors in the jurisdiction of Will County, Illinois, include all crimes of misrepresentation and fraud. Examples of these include producing or possessing a fake visa or equivalent document or owning a falsified marriage certificate.

The second class of deportable offenses that may be considered misdemeanors in Joliet or Will County Illinois, are crimes of moral turpitude. Examples of a crime of moral turpitude include intentional theft, intentional infliction of harm, malice and lewdness. A legal or illegal immigrant may also be deported for having multiple convictions for crimes of moral turpitude, even if the crime does not rise to the level of a misdemeanor in Illinois.

The last group of deportable offenses that may be classified as misdemeanors in Joliet, Illinois, are crimes involving controlled substances. Any immigrant who after admission into the U.S. who is found violating any drug law or who is found to be a drug user or addict may be deported. This list includes any possession, trafficking, obstruction or paraphernalia charges.
There are many other actions considered misdemeanors in Will County Illinois that, if an immigrant is convicted of, could face the consequence of deportation.

If you or someone you know are facing criminal charges that may result in deportation contact Hamilton & Antonsen to discuss your situation with an experienced attorney. Call 815.729.9220 to set up a free consultation.

What Is Considered ‘Beyond a Reasonable Doubt’ in Will County, Illinois?

The standard of evidence used for criminal cases in Joliet and Will County Illinois is beyond a reasonable doubt. In order to validate a criminal conviction the state as prosecutor bears the burden of proving all material facts beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that the proposition being presented by the prosecution must be proven to the extent that there could be no reasonable doubt in the mind of a reasonable person that the defendant is guilty.

The standard “beyond a reasonable doubt” means, there is no other logical explanation that can derived from the facts except that the defendant committed the crime. By proving a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt the prosecution has overcome the presumption of innocence that every citizen in Joliet and Will County, Illinois have.

Beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest standard of proof used in the courts of Will County, Illinois. The term requires that evidence establishes a particular point to a moral certainty and that it is beyond dispute that any reasonable alternative is possible. It does not mean that no doubt exists as to the accused’s guilt, but only that no reasonable doubt is possible from the evidence presented.

In Joliet and Will County, Illinois, juries must be instructed to apply the reasonable doubt standard when determining the guilt or innocence of a criminal defendant. If you have any questions or concerns about the reasonable doubt standard in Illinois as it relates to your specific situation, contact an experienced attorney at Hamilton & Antonsen at 815.729.9220 to set up a free consultation.

Required Alcohol/Drug Evaluation in a Will County, Illinois DUI Case

Illinois law requires anyone arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) to undergo an alcohol and drug evaluation. The statute says: “After a finding of guilt and prior to any final sentencing or an order for supervision … individuals shall be required to undergo a professional evaluation to determine if an alcohol, drug, or intoxicating compound abuse problem exists and the extent of the problem, and undergo the imposition of treatment as appropriate.” This means a DUI defendant cannot simply show up to court, plead guilty and accept his punishment to “get the matter over with”; even defendants who intend to plead guilty must undergo the eval.

The purpose of this evaluation is to determine the nature and degree of the defendant’s alcohol and/or drug use, particularly as it pertains to the risk those habits impose on public safety. To that end, the evaluation comprises an assessment of the following areas: (1) defendant’s driving history, (2) results of any chemical tests administered (e.g. breathalyzer, urinalysis, and/or blood tests measuring the presence of drugs/alcohol in the body), (3) the results of a standardized objective test, and (4) defendant’s interview with an evaluator.

After the evaluation is completed, the evaluator takes each part of the assessment into consideration to determine the level of risk the defendant poses to society and to himself as a result of his alcohol/drug use. There are four possible classifications: Minimal Risk, Moderate Risk, Significant Risk, and High Risk. Each classification brings with it certain minimum recommendations for the court or the Secretary of State to consider. These recommendations are as follows:

  • Minimum Risk: Completion of a minimum of 10 hours of DUI Risk Education.
  • Moderate Risk: Completion of a minimum of 10 hours of DUI Risk Education and a minimum of 12 hours of “early intervention.” Additionally, completion of any and all necessary treatment and adherence to a continuing care plan.
  • Significant Risk: Completion of a minimum of 10 hours of DUI Risk Education, a minimum of 20 hours of substance abuse treatment and, after discharge, active ongoing participation in all activities specified in the continuing care plan.
  • High Risk: Completion of a minimum of 75 hours of substance abuse treatment and adherence to the continuing care plan.

Note that these guidelines represent the minimum treatment hours that evaluators are required to recommend; an evaluator may very well recommend more hours based on the facts of defendant’s case. However, a court receiving these recommendations for sentencing purposes ultimately has the discretion to determine which, if any, it will utilize to fashion an appropriate sanction. On the other hand, the Secretary of State generally adopts evaluators’ recommendations in their entirety for purposes of granting driving privileges to defendants with suspended licenses.

If the DUI defendant fails to complete the evaluation or refuses to sign the evaluator’s report, the Will County Circuit Court and/or the Office of the Secretary of State will be notified within five days of defendant’s refusal. However, a defendant does have the right to “start over” or request a second evaluation if he believes the first is flawed. Defendants are responsible for the cost of their evaluations.

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if you would just like more information about the steps involved in a DUI proceeding in Joliet or Will County, contact Hamilton & Antonsen at 815.729.9220 to set up a free consultation.

New Law Allows Undocumented Immigrants to Apply for Driver’s License in Illinois

Back in January 2013, Illinois passed a law extending driving opportunities to undocumented immigrants. Prior to its implementation, non-U.S. citizens without a visa could not legally drive in Will County or anywhere in Illinois. Yet out of necessity, many did so anyway.

Faced with this reality, the Illinois legislature decided to provide non-visa-status drivers with a way to become licensed (and presumably safer) behind the wheel. These “undocumented” (non-visa-status) individuals are now able to apply for a Temporary Visitor Driver’s License (TVDL). The Illinois Driver Services Department has stated that the goal of the program is to improve traffic safety, while underscoring the importance of driver’s license integrity and security.

In essence, the new law extends a program already in place for Illinois residents unable to obtain a Social Security card. Previously, the program was only available to documented immigrants (i.e. those with a visa). Now, visa-status and non-visa-status immigrants alike can apply for a TVDL.

To qualify for a TVDL in Will County, the applicant must be a non-U.S. citizen residing in the State of Illinois, authorized to be in the U.S. for at least one year with at least six months of authorized stay remaining.

Furthermore, the TVDL applicant must provide a valid unexpired passport or consular ID, one or more accepted forms of identification, and proof that the applicant has already lived in Illinois for at least one year. Once the individual’s application has been accepted, s/he must pass the same vision, written, and road exams that are administered to all Illinois residents seeking a license.

To prove length of residency in Illinois, the applicant must provide one of the following documents dated at least 12 months prior to the date of his or her TVDL application: certified school transcripts; bank statement; real estate deed/title, mortgage, or lease agreement; homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy; medical claim or statement of benefits from private insurance company or government agency; official mail received from a state, country, city, village or a federal agency that includes applicant’s first and last name and complete current address; Homestead Exemption receipt; pension or retirement statement; school report card; tuition invoice or other official mail from a college or university; or a utility bill (gas, electric, water, trash, telephone, or cable). If you have moved within the past year, you will also need to supply one of these documents indicating your current address.

Note that there are several important differences between a regular driver’s license and a TVDL. Most significantly, a TVDL is not a valid form of identification; this means it cannot be used for purposes such as boarding an airplane, registering to vote, entering a federal building, or applying for a Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) card. Additionally, unlike a regular driver’s license, a TVDL is only valid with proof of auto insurance. Therefore, if a TVDL-holder is caught driving without insurance, s/he will be ticketed both for driving without insurance and for driving without a valid license.

Additional differences involve license expiration and renewal. Whereas a regular Illinois driver’s license is valid for four years with options to renew, a TVDL is valid a maximum of three years and cannot be renewed. If you are allowed to be in the U.S. for more than three years and your TVDL expires, you must go through the entire application process again to obtain a new one. Conversely, if you are authorized to be in the United States for less than three years, your TVDL will automatically expire at the end of your authorized stay.

Last but not least, a reassuring detail regarding TVDLs, your immigration status, and your privacy: Law enforcement officers will not know if you are an undocumented immigrant by applying for or holding a Temporary Visitor Driver’s License. The same TVDLs are available to both visa holders and undocumented individuals, so they will not “tip off” anyone about your visa status. By that same token, however, TVDLs do not grant you legal immigration status—immigration is a matter of federal law, and TVDLs issued in Illinois do nothing more than enable undocumented immigrants to comply with Illinois traffic laws.

If you believe you qualify for a Temporary Visitor Driver’s License, you must make an advance appointment at one of the 36 designated facilities in order to apply. But note that you will not receive the license on the same day as your appointment. The license will be printed and mailed to you after the Secretary of State’s office has verified your documents and a facial recognition search has been completed. The application fee is $30 ($35 for a motorcycle license).

For more information about your eligibility and the documents required to apply, please contact us at 815.729.9220. Our attorneys are experienced in traffic law and immigration issues, and we can look at the facts of your specific situation to advise you on your best course of action. To make an appointment to apply for a TVDL, go to www.cyberdriveillinois.com or call 855-236-1155. There is a designated TVDL appointment office in Joliet at 201 S. Joyce Rd.

If you are located elsewhere in Will County or in a different Illinois county, we can help direct you to the nearest location.

Written by: Sarah Hanneken

What is ‘Scott’s Law’ in Illinois?

The only thing more annoying than a traffic ticket in Will County, Illinois, is getting a ticket for violating a law you didn’t even know existed. Since its enactment in 2002, drivers throughout Illinois have been learning about Scott’s Law the hard way, facing fines up to $10,000 and even having their licenses suspended.

Scott’s Law, also known as the “Move Over Law,” has its inception in a tragic event. In December 2000, Lieutenant Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department was struck and killed while assisting at a crash scene on a Chicago expressway. A passing car, driving too fast and too close to the crash scene, lost control just as it was passing Gillen’s parked fire truck, striking the Lieutenant and fatally injuring him.

So prompted the passing of Scott’s Law, which requires all drivers in Will County and everywhere in Illinois to slow down and, if possible, change lanes when approaching a stationary emergency vehicle on the side of the road with its lights flashing. This certainly seems reasonable, especially when passing by a major crash scene with closed lanes, fire trucks, and ambulances like the one Lieutenant Scott Gillen was involved in. However, Scott’s Law applies in all situations where an emergency or municipal vehicle is parked on the side of the road with its lights flashing. The statute reads as follows:

When a stationary authorized emergency vehicle is giving a signal by displaying alternately flashing red, red and white, blue, or red and blue lights or amber or yellow warning lights, a person who drives an approaching vehicle shall proceed with due caution, yield the right-of-way by making a lane change into a lane not adjacent to that of the authorized emergency vehicle. If changing lanes would be impossible or unsafe, the driver must reduce his speed and proceed with due caution past the emergency vehicle.

An “authorized emergency vehicle” is any vehicle authorized to be equipped with oscillating, rotating, or flashing lights while the owner or operator of the vehicle is engaged in his or her official duties. Note that this definition encompasses even those vehicles that are not strictly for emergency use, such as vehicles and equipment used by construction workers, maintenance crews, surveyors, and some tow trucks. Passenger vehicles parked with their hazard lights flashing do not count as “emergency vehicles,” although you should still use caution when passing such a vehicle since its driver may on the road changing a tire or otherwise tending to his automobile.

The takeaway from this cautionary article is this: If you are driving anywhere in Will County or in Illinois and see a vehicle with flashing, rotating or oscillating lights parked up ahead of you, move over a lane (if you can) to give the parked vehicle a wider berth. If you cannot safely change lanes, or if you are on a two-lane road, slow down and proceed past the emergency vehicle with caution.

Perhaps one of the most common situations in which people find themselves ticketed under Scott’s Law is when they pass a police car parked on the side of the road with its lights flashing. Even if the officer does not appear to be doing anything outside his vehicle, you must obey Scott’s Law. Remember: If the lights are flashing, give him space.

If you have been ticketed in Joliet, Will County, or a surrounding area for violating Scott’s Law (625 ILCS 5/11-907(c)), your citation likely indicates that a court appearance is required. To discuss your situation, contact an experienced Joliet traffic attorney such as Hamilton & Antonsen at 815.729.9220 for help in defending your case.

Written by: Sarah Hanneken