Frequently Asked Questions

1.      What does a caseworker in the Social Service Department do?
A caseworker is the job title the department gives to its probation officers.  A caseworker develops and implements an individualized supervision plan for each offender.  The caseworker determines the frequency of contact and the degree of services based on the conditions and penalties imposed by the court and a thorough assessment of the offender.  These assessments include severity of the current offense, prior offenses, if any, history of substance abuse, mental health issues, employment, education, and family situations.

2.     Are offenders “getting off easy” by being placed under community supervision and monitored by the Social Service Department? 

This impression comes from the perspective that all offenders need to be punished by incarceration. Primarily, the goal is to ensure public safety by changing the offender into a law-abiding member of society and this can be achieved with strict and effective supervision. The Social Service Department has the capacity and authority to hold offenders accountable for their actions. The offender is required to make restitution to the individual or community harmed by his or her offense.  Offenders also engage with community resources where they receive educational and employment mentoring opportunities and substance abuse counseling.  These types of intervention strategies prepare offenders for useful citizenship and help them to become productive and positive community members.  

3.     What is a Victim Impact Panel?

The DUI Victim Impact Panel is a one time awareness program ordered by the court for offenders who have been convicted of misdemeanor Driving Under the Influence of alcohol or other drugs. The panels consist of a non-confrontational presentation by trauma/crime victims telling their own personal stories of how impaired drivers forever changed their lives. The panel presents a unique perspective to the offender that is often overlooked. There is a fee for offenders to attend this panel.

4.     If I am sentenced to conditional discharge, is it a conviction on my criminal record? 

Yes, it is.

5.     If I am sentenced to court supervision, is it a conviction on my criminal record?

Yes, it will remain on the official court record unless you are eligible to request that your case be expunged, or deleted, from the official court record.  If your court supervision is satisfactorily terminated by the judge, you are eligible to apply to have the record related to your case expunged from the official record one year later. You should contact the clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County for expungement procedures and costs.  If you do not apply for expungement, the official court record will show that you were sentenced to a disposition of court supervision.

If your supervisions is terminated unsatisfactorily by the judge, you are not eligible to have the official court record expunged.

6.     What should I do if I missed an appointment with my caseworker or if I miss a court appearance?

You should immediately call your caseworker to reschedule a missed appointment. Failure to do so can result in your case being violated.

If you miss a court appearance, contact your caseworker and request a check of the status of your case with the Clerk of the Circuit Court. You will then be instructed on the best way to proceed to bring your case back before the court.

7.         What happens if an offender doesn't follow his or her court order?

If an offender does not comply with the conditions of the court order and the requirements of the Social Service Department, his or her case will be returned to court for a violation hearing.  At this hearing, the judge determines if the case should be continued to allow additional time to achieve compliance (this could be due to unforeseeable circumstances), or determines that the offender is indeed in violation of the original court order.  If the offender is present in court, the judge makes a decision at that time.  If the offender is not present in court, a warrant may be issued for the offender’s arrest.

8.     If I change my address while under the authority of the Circuit Court of Cook County Social Service Department, am I required to notify the department?

Yes, regardless of the type of sentence you are serving, you must contact the Social Service Department immediately. Failure to do so may cause you to miss an appointment, payment, or court date, which can violate your case.

9.     If I get arrested on a new offense or receive a ticket for Driving Under the Influence or Driving with Revoked License, what will happen?

The first thing you need to do is notify your caseworker of your recent arrest.  Regardless whether you choose to tell your caseworker, your new arrest will become apparent within a short period of time when your caseworker conducts the routine arrest checks on all offenders. It is in your best interest to contact your caseworker as soon as possible.  Your caseworker will then prepare notification to the court of your new arrest and will set a court date for you to appear on a violation of your sentence. The judge will make a determination based on the circumstances of your arrest.

10.  Am I allowed to travel while I am under the authority of the Circuit Court of Cook County Social Service Department?

Before you make any travel arrangements to travel outside of the State of Illinois, you and your caseworker will need to file a motion before the court to request permission to travel. You will need to provide where you are planning to travel, the dates of travel, where you will be staying, and the reason you wish to travel. The judge will make a determination regarding your travel plans.

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