Students Need to Determine Options Before Going to Court

Got a ticket?

Contact Students’ Legal Assistance immediately to discuss your options. If you don’t act promptly, the costs related to your ticket increase dramatically. Here’s why.

When you receive a ticket, you will also receive information (on the back of the ticket and/or on a separate form given to you by the police officer) regarding your options. One option is to pay the ticket and receive a conviction. A second option is to pay an increased fine, receive court supervision, and in some cases, attend traffic school. Eligibility for court supervision is spelled out in the information you receive. The third option is to go to trial. Tickets listed “Must Appear” do not give you these options; you must appear in court.

Be aware that if you go to court, court costs will be assessed over and above the minimum fine listed on the ticket. Due to recent increases, court costs can equal or exceed the minimum fine. For example, if you receive a ticket in DeKalb County for Disorderly House, the fine assessed would be $300.00 if you pay by mail or in person prior to your first court date (column A, below). If you go to court and either plead guilty or are found guilty before a judge, additional court fees are applied for a total cost of $547.00 (column B, below).

Court costs are assessed whenever a person goes to court, unless the case is dismissed or the person issued the ticket is acquitted after trial.

There is a similar consequence for failing to make a prompt decision about how to respond to a citation for one or more of the following DeKalb City Ordinance violations: consumption/possession of alcohol as a minor; keeping a disorderly house; entering and remaining in a tavern as a minor; possessing an open container of alcohol on a public way; keeping a dog at large; littering; noise violation; and fighting. If you receive a citation for one of these violations, you will be notified that you can avoid having a court case filed against you if you pay the listed fine and sign a trial waiver within 21 days of receiving the ticket. Payment must be made in person to the City of DeKalb Legal Division in the DeKalb Municipal Building. After 21 days, a court case is filed and additional court costs are due if you are found guilty or plead guilty.  The City will ask for an increased fine above the minimum listed and a default judgment if you fail to show up on your first court date.

The difference in costs is as follows:

Offense Minimum Maximum Mail-in
1) Consumption/ possession of alcohol $547 first offense, $808 second offense $1145  
2) Disorderly house $547 $1145 $300
3) Entering and remaining in tavern $547 first offense, $808 second offense $1145 $300
4) Open container $416 $1145 $75
5) Littering $253 $808 $75
6) Misrepresenting age $416 $1145  
7) Sound apparatus $547 $1145 $200
8) Fighting $547 $1145 $300
9) Possession of cannabis $547 first offense, $808 second offense $1465 $350
10) Disorderly conduct $547 $1465
11) Fighting $547 $1145 $300

There are many questions that can arise when determining your best option: the likelihood of receiving court supervision, the existence of and strength of any legal defenses to the ticket, the availability of traffic school, and the possibility that the conviction will result in the suspension of the driving privileges by the Secretary of State.

The importance of the increased court costs to students is that, to avoid the extra costs, a decision to plead guilty must be made before the first court date.  If you are a Northern Illinois University student, contact Students’ Legal Assistance to determine your options.  When you call, please advise the receptionist as to your first court date.

                                                                                                                                    Rev. November 2017