State's Attorney's Office: Frequently Asked Questions
Can I be notified of a defendant's release from jail or the Department of Corrections?
Yes, you can register for notification through VINE. Go to https://www.vinelink.com/vinelink/ and click on Illinois.
Do I need to be present for every court date of the defendant?
No, you do not need to be present at every court appearance for the defendant. You are welcomed to attend any and all court appearances if you wish. You will be notified by our office when you are needed. If you have any questions about what will happen at a particular court appearance, you may contact a victim/witness advocate at 309-672-6900.
How can I get an order of protection?
An order of protection is a court order issued by a judge to a victim of domestic violence. It orders a person to stay away from the victim and stop any violence, threats of violence, or any type of harassment. To be eligible for an order of protection, the person must be a spouse, former spouse, roommate, family member or person you have dated. There is no cost for an order of protection, and there is trained staff at the Peoria County Courthouse to assist you in filing the necessary paperwork. To seek an order of protection, you may come in person to room G14 of the Peoria County Courthouse, 324 Main Street, Peoria, IL 61602 or call 309-672-6074.
Is the State's Attorney's Office my lawyer?
The State's Attorney's Office represents the People of the State of Illinois in criminal matters. Our duty is to seek justice. We are not the lawyer for individual victims. Although we will seek restitution in appropriate cases, the amounts recoverable may not equal a victim's total loss. If you feel that you need additional recovery or relief than what the criminal case can provide, you should consider consulting with private counsel. Although we cannot recommend specific lawyers, our victim/witness staff will be happy to assist you in finding resources available to assist you.
Is there someone in the State's Attorney's Office who can answer my questions?
The States Attorney's Office maintains an entire division to coordinate victim and witness issues. To speak with a victim/witness advocate, call 309-672-6900 and ask for a victim/witness advocate. In addition to our services, there are other agencies who have victim services. The Illinois Attorney General's Office Crime Victims Department can be contacted at 1-800-228-3368 and their web site http://www.ag.state.il.us for further information. The Illinois Department of Corrections offers some services for victims when the defendant is in the custody of the department. Their website is http://www.idoc.state.il.us. The U.S. Department of Justice typically works with victims of federal crimes. Their website is http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/.
What are my responsibilities as a victim of a crime?
We cannot prosecute cases without the cooperation of crime victims and witnesses. Your cooperation is necessary because we carry the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
What are my rights as a victim of a crime?
The Illinois Constitution and Illinois statutes have provisions for victim's rights. The purpose of the Crime Victim's and Witnesses Act is to implement, preserve and protect the rights guaranteed to crime victims by Article I, Section 8.1 of the Illinois Constitution. This is to ensure that crime victims are treated with fairness and respect for their dignity and privacy throughout the criminal justice process and to increase the effectiveness of the criminal justice system by affording certain basic rights and considerations to the witnesses of violent crime who are essential to prosecution. Under this act, you are a crime victim if you are: a person who is physically injured in this state as a result of a violent crime perpetrated or attempted against you; or a person who suffered damage to or loss of property as a result of a violent crime perpetrated or attempted against you; or a single representative who may be the spouse, parent, child or sibling of a person killed as a result of a violent crime perpetrated against the person killed or the spouse, parent, child or sibling of any person granted rights under this Act, who is physically or mentally incapable of exercising such rights, except where the spouse, parent, child or sibling is also the defendant or prisoner; or a person against whom a violent crime has been committed; or a person who has suffered personal injury as a result of another person driving under the influence of alcohol, other drug or combination thereof, or of involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide. If you are a crime victim as defined above you shall have the following rights: (1) The right to be treated with fairness and respect for dignity and privacy throughout the criminal justice process. (2) The right to notification of court proceedings. (3) The right to communicate with the prosecution. (4) The right to make a statement to the court at sentencing. (5) The right to information about the conviction, sentence, imprisonment and release of the accused. (6) The right to the timely disposition of the case following the arrest of the accused. (7) The right to be reasonably protected from the accused through the criminal justice process. (8) The right to be present at the trial and all other court proceedings on the same basis as the accused, unless the victim is to testify and the court determines that the victim's testimony would be materially affected if the victim hears other testimony at the trial. (9) The right to have present at all court proceedings, subject to the rules of evidence, an advocate or other support person of the victim's choice. (10) The right to restitution. (b) A statement and explanation of the rights of crime victims set forth in paragraph (a) of this Section shall be given to a crime victim at the initial contact with the criminal justice system by the appropriate authorities and shall be conspicuously posted in all court facilities.
What should I do if I am a victim of a crime and no longer wish the case be pursued?
Only the State's Attorney's office can make the decision to drop or pursue charges. If you have received a "victim letter" and you do not wish to pursue charges, simply disregard the letter. If the case has already been charged, you must contact the prosecutor handling the case. It is that prosecutor's decision on whether or not to pursue a charge. There may be serious consequences to you for your lack of cooperation. You should not assume that by ignoring correspondence or subpoenas a case will be dropped. Victims wanting to drop charges should fill out an Affidavit at the State's Attorney's Office requesting that the State's Attorney discontinue prosecution. Please note: Filling out an Affidavit does not guarantee the State will not continue charging a case.
What should I do if I am a victim of a crime and wish to pursue charges?
If no arrest has been made as a result of the incident, you must first file a police report with the police agency in the jurisdiction in which the incident occurred before contacting the State's Attorney's Office. Once a police report is filed, the reporting agency forwards a copy of the report to the State's Attorney's Office. You may phone the State's Attorney's Office Charging Division to confirm that a copy of the police report has been received. If you want to pursue charges against the suspect, you will need to come to the State's Attorney's Office and complete/submit a charge form. Please note when coming to the State's Attorney's Office to file charges: Walk-in times are Tuesday 1:00 pm - 4:30pm; Wednesday - Friday 9:00 am - 4:30 pm. If the police have already made an arrest, you do not need to come to the State's Attorney's Office immediately. You will receive a victim's letter in the mail inviting you to come to the State's Attorney's Office to pursue charges. If you receive a victim's letter, you do not have to submit a charge form. If you are seeking compensation for any injuries or losses, you should bring supporting documentation if you have it. Should the charging attorney conclude that enough evidence exists to prove the charge(s) beyond a reasonable doubt, criminal charges may be filed. The State's Attorney's Office cannot provide you with personal legal advice.
What should I do if the defense lawyer wants to talk to me?
The attorney for the defense has the right in a criminal case to interview all witnesses. However, whether or not you speak to a defense attorney is up to you. If you would feel more comfortable having the Assistant State's Attorney who is handling the case present, arrange to have him or her there during the interview. Do not feel obliged to sign or say anything without first speaking to the prosecutor who is handling your case.
How do I get my license reinstated after a suspension?
Driving privileges may be reinstated after a Statutory Summary Suspension when: 1. All other suspensions/revocations have been cleared. 2. The reinstatement fee of $250.00 has been paid to the Secretary of State. (For repeat offenders, the reinstatement fee is $500.00.) 3. The reinstatement is valid once the Secretary of State enters the information on the record and the suspension date has passed. Visit the Secretary of State's website at www.cyberdriveillinois.com for additional information on reinstating driver's license privileges due to Statutory Summary Suspension or Revocation, or contact: Secretary of State, Administrative Hearings Department, 291 Howlet Building, Springfield, IL 62756, (217) 782-7065
How do I obtain a driving permit after being convicted of a DUI?
Driving permits allow limited driving privileges to individuals who have had their driver's licenses suspended or revoked. Permits are issued for employment purposes, education and/or medical reasons. A Judicial Driving Permit (JDP) can be requested from the court during a Statutory Summary Suspension if the driver is a first-time DUI offender and at least 18 years old. The requesting offender must prove a hardship exists and provide a current professional alcohol and drug evaluation. The permit is effective on the 31st day of suspension. A Restricted Driving Permit (RDP) is applied for through the Secretary of State's Office. Visit their website at www.cyberdriveillinois.com for additional information, or contact: Secretary of State, Administrative Hearings Department, 291 Howlett Building, Springfield, IL 62756, (217) 782-7065
How does a DUI arrest occur?
1. A traffic stop is initiated by an officer (due to probable cause, suspicion, erratic operation, or at a roadside safety check). 2. The driver is observed by the officer and asked to produce a driver's license, vehicle registration and insurance card. 3. If the officer suspects the driver is under the influence, the driver is asked to submit to field sobriety tests. 4. If there is probable cause based on the field sobriety tests, the officer will arrest the driver for DUI. The offender is then transported to the police station for chemical testing of the breath, urine or blood. 5. After chemical testing if the driver is determined not to be under the influence, the driver is released with any applicable citations. 6. If the driver's chemical testing reveals a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than .05 but less than .08 percent, then no Statutory Summary Suspension will apply. The DUI charge will remain until action is taken by the court. 7. Statutory Summary Suspension will apply if the driver refuses or fails to complete testing. 8. If the driver's BAC is shown to be .08 percent or more, or a trace of an illegal substance/drug or intoxicating compound is found, the driver will be notified of a Statutory Summary Suspension. 9. A driver with a valid driver's license will be issued a receipt to allow driving for 45 days. 10. The arrested offender will have to post bond and may be held until bond is posted. 11. The arrested offender's vehicle may be impounded, towed or seized.
What if I fail after taking the breath test?
If an individual fails chemical testing (via breath, blood, or urine), the penalty is an automatic driver's license suspension (Statutory Summary Suspension+). The suspension begins on the 46th day from the notice date of the suspension. First offense - mandatory 3 months driver's license suspension; eligible for Judicial Driving Permit on 31st day of suspension. Second offense - mandatory 12 months driver's license suspension; ineligible for any driving permit. +A Statutory Summary Suspension does not apply to those individuals whose BAC (blood alcohol level) was less than .08 percent.
What if I refuse to take the breath test?
If an individual refuses to take or submit to chemical testing (via breath, blood, or urine), the penalty is an automatic driver's license suspension (Statutory Summary Suspension+). The suspension begins on the 46th day from the notice date of the suspension. First offense - mandatory 6 months driver's license suspension; eligible for Judicial Driving Permit on 31st day of suspension. Second offense - mandatory 36 months driver's license suspension; ineligible for any driving permit. +A Statutory Summary Suspension does not apply to those individuals whose BAC (blood alcohol level) was less than .08 percent.
Can I make arrangements over the phone?
No. You must appear in person and sign a payment agreement. Individuals living more than 50 miles out of jurisdiction, please contact the Compliance officer to make arrangements.
How are payments made?
Payments can be made by: + Check (made payable to the Peoria County Circuit Clerk ($2 fee)) + Credit Card (fee depends on the amount of payment) + Debit Card ($5 fee) + Money Order or Certified Cashier's Check (no extra fee) + Cash (in-person only) Make Checks payable to: Peoria County Circuit Clerk Mail Payments to: Peoria County Circuit Clerk 324 Main Street, Room G22 Peoria, IL 61602 (309) 677-6223 Payment drop box: located at the Peoria County Courthouse, 324 Main Street, Peoria, by the doors exiting on the Adams/Hamilton Street side of the building by the fountain. Or pay on-line at: www.illinoisepay.com (follow the instructions)
What is the compliance procedure?
+ A payment conference is set up with the Compliance Officer to enter into an agreed monthly payment schedule. + The Defendant must appear in person and fill out a financial affidavit with compliance staff. The compliance staff looks up all outstanding traffic fines/cost/restitution, etc. owed and the information is entered onto a payment agreement. + The Defendant must sign the agreement acknowledging that he/she agrees to the payment plan set forth and the agreement becomes an order of the Circuit Court of the Tenth Judicial Circuit, Peoria County, Illinois. + A follow-up review is set to review the Defendant's ability to pay if initial payments were set at a low rate. + Failure to pay as agreed or appear on any review date may result in the issuance of a court ordered summons, contempt proceedings, a warrant for arrest or any other remedy authorized by law and interest penalties up to 15 percent. + The Defendant agrees to notify the Circuit Clerk's Office, IN WRITING, of any change in address or phone number within five (5) days of such change.
Who is eligible for the program?
Anyone owing a traffic fine.
Do I need to hire an attorney to represent me on my traffic charge?
You do not need to hire an attorney to contest a traffic charge. You may do so if you wish. However, if you cannot afford an attorney, you are only entitled to a court-appointed attorney only if you are charged with a misdemeanor (or jailable) offense. Speeding and most accident charges are not misdemeanors; therefore, you are not legally entitled to a court-appointed attorney for those types of charges. The Assistant States Attorney cannot give legal advice to defendants. If you want legal advice you may consult with your own lawyer. Legal advice should not be provided to you by a Deputy Circuit Clerk. If you need legal advice, secure it only from your own attorney.
How can I get my bond back?
Bond is returned at the completion of the case. As long as the case continues or you still owe fines your drivers license will be held. Money bond is usually applied to fines and costs owed.
I cannot make my upcoming court date. Can I change it ?
A large number of traffic cases are set each week, and the time it would take to accommodate individual schedules usually makes rescheduling of court appearances impractical. If you cannot be at Court and you have no attorney, you should send someone in your place. There is no guarantee that you will be excused, but the court will consider your reasons for absence and determine if another setting is permitted.
I cannot pay my fine. How can I get an extension?
Short extensions may be granted in certain circumstances. To request an extension, you must come to Traffic Court on the date you are to have paid your fine. If you have been making progress on paying your fine, you are more likely to get an extension.
I missed my court date. What will happen now?
It depends on the charge. If you were charged with a petty or business offense (such as Speeding, Operating an Uninsured Motor Vehicle or an Accident charge, for example), a judgment will likely have been entered against you and a fine assessed as prescribed by law. If you were charged with a misdemeanor offense (Driving on a Suspended License, Driving Under the Influence or Leaving the Scene of an Accident, for example) a warrant may have been issued for your arrest. On occasion, the court will refrain from issuing a warrant and instruct that you be otherwise contacted. Call the Peoria County Circuit Clerks Office at 309-672-6001 for information regarding the status of your case. If a warrant was issued, you may turn yourself in to the Peoria County Jail and post your bond. If you are unable to post bond, you will usually appear before the Court within 48 hours.
I received an operating uninsured motor vehicle ticket and I had insurance. What should I do?
All Operating an Uninsured Motor Vehicle charges are must appear tickets, meaning you must appear in Traffic Court on the date listed at the bottom of your ticket. If the vehicle you were driving was insured at the time you were ticketed, bring the proof of insurance card issued by your insurance company to court. The prosecutor may conclude that this ticket should be dismissed. If the vehicle was not insured when you were cited but is insured on your court date, bring the proof of insurance to court. If you do not have an insurance card, bring a copy of your policy. Your insurance agent will be able to provide you with the documentation you need. DO NOT present the Judge or Prosecutor an insurance card that has been forged or altered. Such actions will subject you to further prosecution. A conviction for driving without insurance carries a mandatory minimum fine and costs of $680.00.
I received notice that I owe a fine, even though I have not been to court. What can I do?
Under Illinois law, a fine can be assessed in a person's absence, by what is known as an Ex Parte Judgment. An Ex Parte Judgment is a fine assessed by law to an offender who failed to appear in court on their assigned court date. You have a couple options if you have been fined in your absence. First, you may simply pay the fine within the time given in the notice you receive from the Circuit Clerk. If you seek to contest the ticket at this late stage, you must file with the Circuit Clerks Office a Motion to Vacate Conviction. Depending on how long it has been since the judgment was entered, there are different procedures and a nonrefundable filing fee which must be paid to have the case reconsidered. Upon filing the motion and paying the filing fee, you will be given a new court date. At your next court appearance, you will have to explain to the Traffic Court Judge why you failed to appear in court on your court date. If the judge accepts your reason, the fine may be vacated (or withdrawn) and you will be given another court date for a trial on your ticket.
I was in an accident with another vehicle which was uninsured. Will I be able to get money from Traffic Court?
You should promptly advise the prosecutor that you incurred this loss. Provide the amount of the damage so that restitution may be sought. Under certain circumstances, a person who operates a motor vehicle without liability insurance can be held criminally liable for the damages caused. Call the Peoria County States Attorney Office Traffic Division to inform them of your situation at 672-6900.
Is there any way I can keep a traffic ticket off my record?
Yes. Under certain circumstances a traffic ticket can be kept off a drivers driving record through Court Supervision. Court Supervision means the court will withhold entering a judgment of conviction on the traffic charge and impose certain conditions the driver must meet to satisfy the Court Supervision. Terms usually include paying a fine, attending a driver improvement course and receiving no new traffic charges in a specified period of time. If the driver meets the conditions, the court will then dismiss the charge at the end of the supervision period and the charge will not go on the drivers permanent driving record. Not all charges can be settled though court supervision, either by law or by our office policy. Court supervision is not a right or entitlement but is a sentence which may be imposed on a driver. If you want the court to consider court supervision on your case, inform the Assistant States Attorney at your first court appearance or inform the Circuit Clerks Office if your case does not require a court appearance.
My ticket says 75.00 and it also says I must come to court. Is my fine 75.00?
The $75.00 figure is the amount of bond you would have had to post if you could not have posted your drivers license, or if the officer did not release you on a promise to comply. When you come to court, if you want to just pay a fine, the fine may be higher than $75.00 based upon court costs and the severity of the charge.
What is the difference between a bench trial and a jury trial?
A bench trial is a trial where the judge is the sole fact-finder; that is, the judge alone makes a decision on the merits of your case after both sides have presented evidence. A jury trial is a trial where 12 jurors (randomly selected citizens from Peoria County) listen to the evidence and make the decision on your case. Jury trials are held on specific days in Traffic Court and the oldest cases and most serious cases are heard first. On the jury trial day only one case can be heard. This means that people on the jury call often come back for several jury calls before their case works its way to the top of the docket. Bench trials are held each day of the week and all cases set on the bench trial docket may be heard the day they are set. The States Attorney Office cannot advise persons on which type of trial they should choose. Clearly, however, a bench trial can be set and heard more quickly than a jury trial.
What is the difference between a ticket marked must appear and a ticket marked may appear?
A must appear ticket is one which the officer has marked as a requiring a mandatory court appearance. You must appear at the date and time marked on the bottom of the ticket. If you fail to appear either a warrant may be issued for your arrest, or you may be found guilty of the offense and fined in your absence, or if you have posted a drivers license your license may be suspended until you appear. A may appear ticket is one, which may be resolved by mail or over the counter. You need not appear on the date and time of the ticket. In fact, because traffic court is so busy, people with may appear tickets may not be able to speak with the Assistant States Attorney on the date on the bottom of the ticket. If you want to pay the ticket, simply follow the instructions on the back and send it in along with payment. If you wish to seek court supervision, a deputy circuit clerk at the Courthouse can sign you up if you are for the driver improvement program if you are eligible. This is a form of court supervision. (see below) If you wish to contest your ticket you should request a trial by following the instructions on the back of your ticket. If you wish to plead guilty but wish to speak with an Assistant States Attorney, you must request a trial and appear on your trial date.
What should I do If I want to contest my traffic ticket?
If you do not want to plead guilty to a traffic ticket, and you wish to contest it, you must request a trial. Trials will NOT be held at your first court appearance. For a must appear charge (a ticket which requires you to come to court), simply inform the Assistant States Attorney that you wish to plead not guilty and you will be given a trial date. For all other tickets (tickets which do not require a court appearance), the back of your ticket explains the process for setting your case for a trial.