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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 309-672-6900.
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.
The $75 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 based upon court costs and the severity of the charge.
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. 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.
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.