WHAT IS A MISDEMEANOR IN LAKE COUNTY?
I will often receive calls from potential clients saying they don’t have a serious case, but think they may need a lawyer. Usually, these cases are misdemeanors and although the person accused of the crime may not think it is serious I can guarantee you that the police, prosecutors and judges in the Lake County court system will take it very serious. Under Illinois Law a misdemeanor is simply a crime whose range of sentence is 1-364 days in jail. That does not mean everyone with a misdemeanor in Lake County goes to jail. Other sentencing options may include court supervision, conditional discharge, or probation. Often times community service or fines may be ordered in place of jail time as well. A misdemeanor offense can be fought in court with motions, and a bench trial or jury trial. The state must prove a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. One should keep in mind though that unlike most traffic tickets a misdemeanor carries a potential jail sentence. If a person misses court there will generally be a arrest warrant issued.
WHAT KIND OF LAWYER DO I NEED TO REPRESENT ME ON A MISDEMEANOR IN LAKE COUNTY?
All types of law are becoming increasingly specialized. You do not want your real estate lawyer handling your misdemeanor any more than you want your criminal defense attorney handling your bankruptcy case. You need an attorney with the proper focus and concentration in criminal defense to represent you on your Lake County misdemeanor case. Richard Albanese has seen both sides of thousands of misdemeanor cases as a misdemeanor and felony Prosecutor for well over a decade as well as a criminal defense attorney in Lake County. Richard will provide you with a no nonsense evaluation of your misdemeanor case and explain your options although the final decision on how to handle the case rests with you, the client. Put a former Prosecutor on your side and call the Richard Albanese Law Office today for a free consultation about your misdemeanor case at (312) 882-1973 or visit our office on the Web at http://www.CriminalandTrafficDefenseAttorney.com.
My experience in the criminal justice system has taught me that hot button issues in the news often lead to new laws to address public concerns. We have seen this trend of new or modified laws being enacted to deal with both criminal and social issues. One of the newer concerns in Illinois has been underage drinking and adults hosting underage drinking parties. Public concern and other forces have led to the enactment of a social hosting law effective January 1, 2013. The Illinois Social Host Law is codified at 235 ILCS 5/6-16(C) and provides that:
Effective January 1, 2013, Illinois law now states that individuals can be arrested and face criminal charges for simply allowing or permitting individuals under the age of 21 to drink alcohol at their residence or on their property – even if the individual did not directly supply or provide the underage person with alcohol. Therefore, students who host social events are expected to monitor their parties and make sure that underage people are not drinking in their residence, room, or property.
CONSEQUENCES FOR VIOLATIONS
Individuals who violate this law:
- Can be arrested and charged with a Class A Misdemeanor (punishable by court supervision, probation, 1-364 days in jail)
- Face fines of at least $500.
- Individual hosts can be charged with a Class 4 Felony if the violation directly or indirectly results in great bodily harm or death to any person. Under Illinois law, penalties for a Class 4 Felony may include:
- Felony convictions and incarceration for 1-3 years
- Fines of up to $25,000
SAFE HARBOR PROVISION
The new law contains a “safe harbor” (or amnesty) provision that protects individuals who host social events from criminal liability if:
- The party host requests assistance from the police to either:
- Remove any person who refuses to abide by the party host’s demand to stop drinking, or
- Terminate the gathering, because the party host has been unable to prevent persons under the age of 21 years from consuming alcohol, despite having taken all reasonable steps to do so; AND
- The party host contacts the police for help before any other person makes a formal complaint to law enforcement.
Thus, parents and others are strongly encouraged to contact the police immediately if they are unable to control guests at their party or if guests refuse to comply with the host’s attempts to prevent underage drinking.
STATE VS. LOCAL CHARGES
Many municipalities have adopted ordinances with language similar to the new Illinois law with the important difference being that ordinances are considered fine only offenses that do not involve the possibility of jail time, but can still mar a person’s criminal record wit ha conviction.
WHO IS THIS LAW TARGETING?
This new law mainly targets parents who have been hosting parties in their homes or yards providing their underaged children and friends with alcohol. Many parents believe this is a good philosophy because it keeps the drinking under their supervision, but the law views it differently. Often young people leave these parties and get a DUI or cause an alcohol related offense or an incident such as the national story concerning student hazing (See: http://www.cnn.com/2003/LAW/05/12/high.school.hazing/ ) There have been other widely publicized incidents on college campuses across the country where injuries and even deaths have occurred due to the overconsumption of alcohol by underaged. students. If you face one of these tickets as a parent or other person hosting a party contact the Richard Albanese Law office at (312) 882-1973 for a free consultation regarding the potential defenses to your case.
Many people have heard rumors or experienced firsthand that appearing in court for a speeding ticket can often result in the dismissal of the ticket if the officer who wrote the citation is not in court that day for whatever reason. In Cook County, Illinois, where there may be over a couple thousand tickets on the court docket each day that is often the case and people commonly get their tickets thrown out if an officer fails to appear on the first court date. Many people may be surprised to learn that this is not the case in Lake County, Illinois and may find themselves missing more time away from work to attend court and spending more money and effort handling a speeding ticket than if they hired a competent traffic attorney to appear for them. I will first outline the Lake County system for handling traffic matters and then explain why hiring an attorney may be the best option for those looking to negotiate or contest a traffic violation.
THE LAKE COUNTY BRANCH COURT SYSTEM
The three main branch courts in Lake County, Illinois are located in Park City, Mundelein and Round Lake Beach. All petty offense traffic tickets along with some misdemeanors such as Aggravated Speeding (30-40 mph over the limit) and driving with a suspended or no driver’s license are heard in these branch courts. Unlike some other court systems the initial court appearance is not considered a trial date, but rather an initial status date at which time a person can appear and plead guilty or not guilty to an offense and a police officer’s presence in court is not required. If a person pleads not guilty then the case is set for trial and the police officer will be notified by the prosecutor of the future trial date. The person will have to appear again in court a second time and if the officer is not in court when the matter is set for trial the ticket may be dismissed, but this dismissal is not automatic. If you are charged with the misdemeanor traffic offenses a Prosecutor has 180 days from the date of a trial demand to proceed with a case under Illinois law. Judges and prosecutors are generally not inclined to dismiss Aggravated Speeding tickets or Suspended License matters because an officer missed one court date. No matter what type of ticket you have in Lake County you can spend alot of time trying to resolve a traffic ticket and miss several days of work and also spend quite a bit of time waiting in court as other cases are being called as well. Thankfully, there is a solution balanced to protect your rights but not sacrifice your job and personal time and sanity in the process.
HIRING A QUALIFIED LAKE COUNTY TRAFFIC ATTORNEY
Here at the Richard Albanese Law Office we have a simple plan and goal for your Lake County traffic matters: Minimize the stress to the client and maximize the best potential outcome for each case. This is a realistic goal in every case as Richard has handled literally thousands of these matters combined as a Former Prosecutor for over a decade and now as your defense attorney. Sometimes the best outcome may require going to trial on a case, or working out a favorable disposition with the Prosecutor, or getting the minor case thrown out completely when an officer does not show up for a trial on a petty offense. Often on petty speeding tickets or other minor traffic violations an attorney can appear with an authorization to represent form without the client having to come to court at all. This method obviously saves the client the time and financial benefit of not having to miss work only to appear in court for potentially several hours only to learn another appearance is necessary in the matter. Additionally, If a person sets a case for trial in Lake County, goes to court twice and the officer appears, then what? Most citizens are not trained in methods of cross examination and are no match for the experienced police officer’s testimony in court. With increased insurance premiums and a potential loss of driving privileges at stake doesn’t it make sense to have a Professional on your side? Please call the Richard Albanese Law office for a free phone consultation on your traffic matter in Lake County, Park City, Mundelein, Round Lake Beach, or anywhere else in Illinois and Wisconsin. The Richard Albanese Law Office can be reached at 312-882-1973 or found on the web at http://www.criminalandtrafficdefenseattorney.com or by email at RichardAlbaneseLawOffice@gmail.com
Pictured above: Park City Branch Court – Lake County Illinois
Lake County, Illinois is different than other jurisdictions in some ways when it comes to handling speeding and traffic tickets. In Lake County there are three branch courts that handle all minor traffic matters including speeding tickets, suspended licenses, traffic accident tickets and other traffic matters. These branch courts have only one or two courtrooms each, but feature large, ample seating for the often heavy court calls, and free parking is also available at each location. The three branch courts are located in Mundelein, Park City, and Round Lake Beach respectively. Cases are assigned geographically to each of these courts based on where the offense took place. The cases at each location are handled by Assistant State’s Attorney’s from Lake County as well as Village Prosecutors that vary from town to town. A scan of the ticket should show the location, date and time for the first appearance. Lake County courts run all day with several start times at 9:00am, 10:30am, 1:30pm, and 3:00pm. Depending on the day you may spend quite a long time in court if you don’ have an attorney. The cases in which people do have an attorney are handled first as the attorneys often have to make other appearances in other locations and then the rest of the case are called. If you want a continuance to hire an attorney tell the judge that and the request will generally be honored one or twice, until you retain an attorney. It is always the best practice to consult with an attorney right from the start though to avoid unnecessary court appearances.
Drivers who may have gone to court before in other counties may have had the experience of getting a case dismissed when they went to court the first time because an officer was not in court to proceed with the case. This is not how things work in Lake County. The first court date after the ticket offers a chance to plea guilty tot he charge but nothing else. The case must be set for trial and the person must return to see if the officer will be present to proceed with the case the next court date.
Often a Lawyer may make court appearances on a client’s behalf with proper authorization and the case may be resolved with the client not having to take time off work, school or family. Each court session also begins with a judge generally informing the crowd that the court costs in Lake County can often exceed the fine imposed by 2-3 times. To minimize the financial costs of speeding tickets and other offenses it is often wise to retain an attorney to give you a voice in court. A premature plea of guilty or sending in money to pay a ticket in the mail can often have unseen disastrous results, depending on the offense and priors, such as the loss of driving privileges, increased insurance premiums or other unnecessary increased financial burdens. A lawyer is essential for misdemeanor traffic offenses such as speeding 30 miles or more over the speed limit, passing a school bus or school zone violations, suspended license or accident cases that may have additional consequences of civil liability. The misdemeanor traffic offense will result in a criminal record in addition to the fines and costs but can often be amended or mitigated by the negotiations of a skilled traffic attorney. Call the Richard Albanese Law Office today at 312-882-1973 or visit our office on the Web at http://www.criminalandtrafficdefenseattorney.com for a free consultation on your speeding ticket in Lake County or elsewhere.