The new year is almost here, and a whole host of laws will go into effect when the calendar turns to 2020. Many of these laws are small changes that will happen behind the scenes, but there are also some bigger changes that could impact your life. Below, we take a look at five changes that will affect criminal law, and we explain what they mean for you in the new year.
New Laws Coming January 1
Here’s a look at five legal changes that will impact criminal law in Illinois in 2020.
- Recreational Marijuana – When you ring in the new year, it will become legal to buy and smoke marijuana in Illinois. HB 1438 will officially go into effect on January 1, making Illinois the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana use. Adults over the age of 21 will have legal access to marijuana sold in dispensaries across the state. It’s still illegal to sell marijuana without proper licensing or to grow it without being a registered medical marijuana patient, but possessing and smoking it will become legal. It will still be illegal to smoke in public places, so you can’t just light up in a bar or park, but it will become legal in private residences.
- Increasing Scott’s Law Penalties – SB 1862 will increase the fines and penalties for anyone breaking Scott’s Law, which requires motorists to change lanes or slow down when approaching a disabled or emergency vehicle on the side of the highway. Fines will increase to $250 for a first offense and $750 for a subsequent violation. Additional funding will also be made available so that the law can be better enforced.
- More Diverse Jury Pools – SB 1378 will now prohibit the exclusion of anyone from jury duty based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. “Ensuring jury pools represent the diversity of Illinois is a vital part of ensuring our criminal justice system is fair,” said Sen. Toi Hutchinson, who sponsored the measure.
- Highway Shootings – The Illinois Expressway Safety Act will upgrade more than 600 cameras on state highways to improve their recording capabilities. Before you get worried that they will be used to catch you speeding down the highway, HB 331 states that the images captured from these cameras can only be used in offenses involving firearms or in the detection of highway hazards.
- Defining Consent – Finally, SB 3550 states that sex education classes in Illinois must include age-appropriate discussions on the meaning of consent. The new law also states what must be covered during these classes, including the fact that consent can be withdrawn at any time and that past consent does not constitute future consent. “We cannot wait until students go to college or into the workplace to have a discussion about what it means to consent to sexual interaction,” said State Rep. Ann Williams, who sponsored the bill.
For help with any of your legal needs in 2020, give Appelman Law a call today.