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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the duty of the Winnebago County State's Attorney?

  • 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 officials.

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 fees. 

Q: Does the Civil Bureau provide legal assistance to county residents?

  • 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 The Civil Bureau does not provide information regarding private civil actions that are no longer active or assist with small claims suits.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 The website of the National Fraud Information Center ( 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 duty?

Q: How can I find information regarding child support matters?

  • 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 Office?

  • Attorney's working for the U.S. Department of Justice in the U.S. Attorney's Office ( 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.
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