In order to charge you with DUI or another offense, the prosecution must prepare written charges against you. Under Illinois law, the charges called the indictment, must contain certain elements. If the indictment is missing an important element, the charges could in limited cases be dismissed.
Illinois statute 725/5-111-3 requires the indictment to contain: 1) the name of the offense, 2) the statute violated, 3) the nature and elements of the offense, 4) the date and county where the offense occurred where possible, and 5) your name as the accused, if known. If the state does not know your name, they may use any name or description that would be reasonably certain to identify you.
If the state seeks an enhanced sentence based on a prior conviction, the indictment must provide that information. The state must also notify you, either through the indictment or other writing before trial, of any fact that would allow the state to obtain a greater than maximum sentence.
If the indictment contains minor mistakes such as a misspelling or an unnecessary allegation, the state may simply correct the charges. If the mistake is substantive, the charges could be dismissed before the trial.
If you raise the defective indictment on appeal, the court will examine whether you were prejudiced in your defense because of the mistake.
In People v Swift, a defendant convicted of Aggravated DUI alleged that the indictment omitted the element that his conduct proximately caused the victim’s injuries. The court looked at whether 1) the indictment was defective, 2) the defect was formal or substantive, 3) the defendant was required to show the mistake prejudiced his defense, and whether it in fact prejudiced his defense. The court held that the mistake, while substantive, did not prejudice the defense, and therefore, his conviction would stand.
If you are charged with DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case to present your best possible defense. If the prosecution or police failed to follow the law, an attorney may be able to petition the court to dismiss the case or at least restrict the prosecution’s case in some other fashion. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an experienced attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you can on your own.
If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)