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No court for small offenses? Cary considers creating administrative adjudication program

CARY – Village officials are looking to start an administrative adjudication program to handle some minor offenses.

Village Administrator Chris Clark said he hopes to have a program in place by the end of the first quarter of 2013.

Administrative adjudication streamlines the handling of smaller offenses and avoids circuit court.

“Really, it’s for better local control over the entire process,” Police Chief Steven Casstevens said. “It could be a considerable inconvenience to go to Woodstock and sit in court for a long time.”

Administrative adjudication could handle seat belt violations, noise complaints, dogs at large, dumping, littering, trespassing, disorderly conduct, curfew violations, theft and possibly building code violations.

Whether possession of marijuana would be handled by the local adjudicator has yet to be considered, Casstevens said.

Also yet to be decided is whether an adjudicator would handle fines for vehicles towed in DUI cases or for driving without a valid license, he said.

Casstevens said he expects hearings would be once a month and possibly require two hours or less.

The village has been researching costs of such a program, including hiring a hearing officer, who would not be an employee of the village and buying software and equipment for the program.

With the cost of a village attorney to prosecute cases, the village estimates an administrative adjudication program would cost $15,000 to $21,700 a year, according to village documents. It estimates the program could bring in about $124,825 a year in fines.

The estimate is based on 2011 and 2012 arrest statistics and on minimum fine amounts.

The municipality would keep all of the money from fines rather than give the county a cut, which happens when cases are handled in circuit court.

“I don’t know if that’s a motivation,” Casstevens said. “It does mean additional revenue to the village, but I don’t think it will balance any village budget.”

McHenry, Johnsburg, Lake in the Hills, Algonquin, Spring Grove, Crystal Lake, Fox River Grove and Woodstock are among county communities that have administrative adjudication.

Hearings are in a courtroom setting but are conducted in a City Council chambers or a village board room.

If respondents are found liable in administrative adjudication, the accusations are not placed on a criminal record.

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