Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the duty of the Winnebago County State's
- The State's Attorney of Winnebago County is responsible for
prosecuting all individuals charged with violating Illinois'
criminal laws within the county. The State's Attorney may appoint
Assistant State's Attorney's as his legal representatives.
Assistant State's Attorney's are commonly referred to as
prosecutors. The Assistant State's Attorney is responsible for
initially reviewing criminal cases to determine if the case should
be pursued. If there is a decision to proceed, the Assistant
State's Attorney acts as an advocate on behalf of the victim in
presenting the case to the judge or jury. Under Illinois law, the
State's Attorney is granted the exclusive authority to represent
crime victims. This is why crime victims cannot hire private
Attorney's to represent them in criminal matters. The duty of a
prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict. Assistant
State's Attorney's are responsible for representing the interests
of all Winnebago County citizens in criminal cases. In addition to
his responsibilities for criminal prosecution, the State's Attorney
is charged with enforcing many civil laws that protect abused
children, the elderly, the disabled, and consumers. The State's
Attorney also acts as legal counsel on civil law matters on behalf
of Winnebago County government agencies and the county's elected
Q: What are the responsibilities covered by the
Winnebago State's Attorney Civil Bureau?
- The Civil Bureau defends the county and its officeholders and
employees in civil suits, provides a full range of legal services
for all county agencies, and represents the county's interests in
actions brought to collect monies owed for taxes and
Q: Does the Civil Bureau provide legal assistance to
- The Civil Bureau does not represent or give legal advice to
citizens who have private legal issues and disputes. Individuals
and businesses with legal disputes or questions concerning rights
and obligations must seek legal advice from their own counsel at
their own expense. Disputes between tenants and landlords and those
between condominium owners and their management associations are
private civil matters for which the parties must seek
representation from a private attorney. The Civil Bureau does not
provide information regarding private civil actions that are no
longer active or assist with small claims suits.
Q: How do I report a crime?
- All crime reports should be directed to the police agency in
the area where the crime occurred. If you are trying to report an
emergency situation, call 911 on your telephone to be connected to
the emergency services you require.
Q: What can I do if I have concerns about the safety of
buying products online or if I believe I have been a victim of
Internet theft or fraud?
- Many retail or auction-oriented websites, such as eBay, have
guidelines on their site dedicated to issues of security and
fraudulent transactions. Review and follow these policies and
instructions carefully both before buying an item online and in the
event you feel you have been victimized. In addition, contact your
local police department to report the incident and request to speak
with the division that handles such matters. Further information
may be found on the website of the Illinois Attorney General (
under the section labeled "High Tech Crimes/Internet Safety"
- If your grievance involves goods that you bought online but
never received in the mail, you can file a complaint with the U.S.
Postal Inspection Service at http://www.usps.com/postalinspectors/.
The website of the National Fraud Information Center (http://www.fraud.org) offers tips
for guarding against online scams, information regarding their
toll-free call center, as well as online complaint forms
Q: What do I do when I am called for jury
Q: How can I find information regarding child support
- Call the child support help line at 1-800-447-4278 or contact
the Office of the Illinois Attorney General directly.
Q: What is the difference between criminal cases handled
by the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Winnebago County State's
- Attorney's working for the U.S. Department of Justice in the
U.S. Attorney's Office (http://www.usdoj.gov/) prosecute cases that
involve violations of federal law. The U.S. Attorney has
jurisdiction that includes both foreign and domestic crime. Many of
the U.S. Attorney's cases involve offenses in which the U.S. mail
is used to commit theft or fraud, violations of federal tax
regulations, or situations where a crime has been committed on
federal property or against a federal official, or crimes involving
the interstate transportation of narcotics, firearms or stolen
merchandise. In contrast, Assistant State's Attorney's working for
the Winnebago County State's Attorney's Office prosecute crimes
that violate Illinois state law and that are committed in Winnebago
County. These crimes cover a wide spectrum of violent crimes such
as first-degree murder and aggravated criminal sexual assault and
property crimes such as burglary and theft. The State's Attorney's
Office also prosecutes many serious traffic law offenses such as
reckless homicide, drunk driving, driving on a suspended license,
and leaving the scene of an accident when the motorist is cited for
violating a state law instead of a local municipal ordinance. In
some cases, both the U.S. Attorney and the Winnebago County State's
Attorney have authority to prosecute, such as those involving
street gang criminal conspiracies and illicit enterprises, public
corruption, financial crimes, and illegal gun sales and possession.
In those instances, the two offices work cooperatively to decide
what is in the best interest of the case before the case is filed
in federal court or in the Circuit Court of Winnebago County.
Q: What is an order of protection?
- An "order of protection" is a court order that can be entered
by a judge to protect family or household members from physical
abuse, harassment, or intimidation by another family or household
member. Some people commonly refer to an order of protection as a
"restraining order." A citizen can seek an order of protection in
Criminal Court in conjunction with the filing of a criminal charge,
in Juvenile Court in conjunction with the filing of a delinquency
petition, or in Civil Court if there is no criminal or delinquency
case. An order of protection is available to individuals who are
family members, or who share or have shared a common dwelling,
those who share a blood relationship through a child, those who
have or have had a dating or engagement relationship, and those who
are personal assistants or caregivers for a disabled person. An
order of protection is unavailable to individuals who are not
family or household members such as neighbors or acquaintances. A
judge, after a court hearing, may order certain remedies to stop
the abuse. These remedies may include an order prohibiting further
abuse, harassment, or intimidation; an order granting exclusive
possession of a residence, an order to stay away from the
petitioner or from the petitioner's place of employment, a school,
or other specific places; an order for counseling; or an order
concerning providing for the physical care or custody of a child.
Orders can be obtained on an emergency basis for 14 to 21 days, for
a temporary period for up to 30 days, or for a fixed period of time
that cannot extend for more than two years.