If you’ve been wondering about the new Illinois laws for 2018, our legal experts at O’Dekirk, Allred, & Associates in Joliet would like to share a few highlights. More than 200 new laws took effect on January 1, 2018. This may or may not affect a legal issue you’re involved with, so if anything we discuss applies to your situation, please get in touch to learn more.
Tough on Crime
In a move to support Chicago’s effort to reduce gun violence, one of the new laws will increase sentences for those who commit repeated gun crimes. Instead of being sentenced to three to 14 years in prison, the sentences will be seven to 14 years. Judges who depart from this guideline will be required to explain why.
Supporters of the new law feel that the tougher penalties will be a deterrent while critics indicate there is little evidence that longer sentences are effective. Those opposed to the law are also concerned that tougher sentences will lead to additional arrests of African-American and Latino men while having no effect on gun-traffickers.
Both sides of the aisle supported the new law because the law also included a number of provisions intended to assist with reducing the overall prison population. Lawmakers who supported the bill felt that repeat gun offenders present enough of a danger that the new sentence lengths make sense.
If you are in need of a lawyer for your criminal case, contact O’Dekirk, Allred, & Associates in Joliet. Our attorneys and staff are committed to working relentlessly on your behalf.
Hate Crimes and Sentencing
Another of the new Illinois laws for 2018 expands hate crimes to include those crimes that are committed at mosques, synagogues, churches, and other places of worship. This change was passed in response to an increase in racist graffiti and vandalism at religious spaces all over Illinois. Cyberstalking, stalking, and sending obscene messages can all also be considered hate crimes because technology has increasingly been used in these attacks.
Other changes to criminal laws included removing what has been referred to as the “gay panic” defense in murder trials and sentencing. Defendants can no longer excuse violence by indicating the crime was an act of passion upon discovering a victim was gay. Also, sexual orientation can no longer be a provocation in second-degree murder trials and sentencing.
Policing for Profit
Our state’s civil forfeiture laws are now different base on the new Illinois laws for 2018. Previously, police and prosecutors could take money, vehicles, land, and other property from suspects. The items were often auctioned off, which led to this practice being called “policing for profit” because the proceeds of the auctions funded both police and prosecutor’s offices.
Changes to the forfeiture laws now make it easier for property owners to have their case adjudicated. Additionally, the burden of proof has now shifted to officials and the threshold has been changed from probable cause to now being a preponderance of the evidence.
The new Illinois laws for 2018 state that 16 and 17-year-olds are now allowed to sign up to be organ and tissue donors at the time they receive their driver’s license. However, parents and guardians can keep them off the official registry until a teen’s 18th birthday. Advocates are hoping that allowing teens to sign up earlier will prompt conversations to help parents agree to allow their teen to be a donor.
Birth Certificate Changes
Laws for transgendered people have been eased. It will now be easier for a transgendered person to change their sex designation on their birth certificates. In the past, the change could only be done if a doctor confirmed that the individual had transition surgery. Now, the law allows for a medical or mental health professional to indicate that someone has had “clinically appropriate” treatment which will allow a wider range of transition practices, such as hormone therapy, to be sufficient for a birth certificate change.
In an entirely different arena, birth certificates will now be provided free of charge to those individuals who leave state prison. This is part of an effort to make it easier for convicts to go on to lead more productive lives. This change is meant to allow them to get jobs, find housing, enroll in school, and receive medical and mental health assistance more easily.
In response to potential federal health care changes, laws in Illinois now bar health insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. The laws also now make it illegal for employers to penalize employees who don’t want to participate in wellness programs or disclose genetic information.
There are a number of consumer protections that are effective this year. Here are a few that are now in force:
- Hair salons, barbers, and tailors are now required to provide customers with a price list upon request. The intention is to allow added transparency and to help deter the practice of charging women more for the same service provided to men.
- Businesses can no longer enforce disparagement clauses. These clauses threaten customers who post critical reviews with additional fees. Disparagement clauses are generally found in the fine print.
- Life insurance policies must now inform families if they are due benefits from policies as far back as 2000. Companies will have to check Social Security records to make the determination.
Preschool and early childhood education programs are now prohibited from expelling students unless there are safety concerns for other children. Schools must instead find services and programs to help them resolve those issues presenting a problem. Additionally, public schools must now provide a space for breastfeeding and offer feminine hygiene products in an effort to help increase school attendance rates.
What are some of the new Illinois laws for 2018? These are just a few of them and there are over 200. If you need a lawyer to help you navigate some of these new laws, contact us here at O’Dekirk, Allred, & Associates in Joliet. We have a number of lawyers that specialize in various areas and we will use our extensive experience to help you.