New Illinois Laws for 2017

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2017 is well underway, and along with it, Illinois enacted nearly 200 new laws. A few of these noteworthy laws include the following:

1. Juvenile Interrogations. Children under the age of 15 charged with serious crimes must be represented by counsel during interrogations. Any statements made by a youth without the benefit of counsel present would be deemed inadmissible in Court. This law applies to charges that would be considered a felony if committed by an adult.

2. Prison vs. Probation. Judges must provide an explanation of why they are choosing to put someone in prison for a crime that would have allowed for only probation. This law applies to individuals who are convicted of less serious felonies, and who have no violent crimes or previous sentences of probation in their past. The intent of the law is to encourage judges to be more thoughtful about sentencing and more effectively utilize resources.

3. Professional Licenses for Ex-Offenders. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will only be permitted to take a past felony conviction into account when deciding to issue a license if the offense relates to the type of work the applicant is seeking to do. A written decision must also be issued if an applicant’s application is rejected on the basis of a prior conviction. This law applies to licenses for funeral directing and embalming, roofing contracting, cosmetology, esthetics, hair braiding, nail technology and barbering. In addition, health care workers with past felony convictions can now seek to get their licenses issued or restored.

There are limitations. Individuals who have committed sex crimes are ineligible for health care licenses. Affected individuals will need to petition the IDFPR, which will then need to consider the seriousness of the offense, how long ago it happened, and whether there was a professional disciplinary action against the practitioner.

4. ‘Stingray’ Cell Phone Trackers. Police must now obtain a warrant before using cell site simulators. The portable devices pretend they are ordinary cell phone towers, tricking mobile phones into connecting and sharing locations, as well as interfering with telephone service, draining batteries and allowing for the installation of malware to intercept call records, text messages and other data. The law also requires police to delete information collected from devices that are not related to an investigation.

5. Health Care Right of Conscience. Medical providers who have ethical or religious objections to procedures, such as abortion or contraception, may decline to offer them. However, the law now also requires that providers offer patients information on any treatment options they will not perform.

6. Contraceptive Coverage. Insurers in Illinois will be required to fully comply with the federal Affordable Care Act. Previously, insurers have been able to avoid some requirements and have not covered all methods of birth control. Additionally, a woman could get 12 months of contraception in one visit to the pharmacy.

7. Employee Sick Leave. Employers who offer sick leave to their employees must now permit employees to use that leave to care for family members, including parents or in-laws.

8. FOID Card Revocation. In an effort to ensure residents who have had their license to own a gun revoked do not have access to firearms, state police will notify local law enforcement of any such revocations and local law enforcement is now authorized to confiscate the guns once someone becomes ineligible.