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State's Attorney Berlin Initiatives Protecting Seniors and Animals Signed into Law

August 28, 2023

DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin announced today that three initiatives proposed in his office’s 2023 legislative package have been signed into law. One of the new laws strengthens law enforcement’s ability to remove companion animals from those charged with animal cruelty while the other two protect personnel and residents at long-term health care facilities. The initiatives, now known as Public Act 103-0490 (amended the Humane Care for Animal Act), Public Act 103-0428 (amended the Health Care Worker Background Check Act) and Public Act 103-0293 (amended the part of the Criminal Code of 2012 providing further protection for seniors and long-term care facility residents) passed the General Assembly in May 2023 and were signed into law by Governor Pritzker. Public Act 103-0490 went into effect immediately upon the Governor’s signature (August 4, 2023) while Public Acts 103-0428 and 103-0293 will go into effect on January 1, 2024.

Public Act 103-0490, sponsored in the Senate by Senator Karina Villa and in the House of Representatives by Representatives Maura Hirschauer, Anne Stava-Murray and Terra Costa Howard, amends the Humane Care for Animals Act by mandating that upon a violation of certain sections of the Act, rather than a conviction, the court may order the person in violation to forfeit the companion animal. The bill also allows a court to  prohibit the person or persons in the offender’s household from owning, possessing, harboring or taking custody or control of any other animals for a specified period of time up to permanent relinquishment (lifetime ban). If an individual is found to have violated these conditions, they will be subject to immediate forfeiture of any animal and imprisonment for not more than ninety days, a fine of not more than $2,500 or both. Additionally, the amendment added offenses under which law enforcement may take possession of a companion animal as well as adds offenses under which a court may order the forfeiture of an animal.

“Recent cases of animal cruelty in DuPage County did not go far enough to protect the animals during the pendency of the case,” Berlin said. “I am very pleased that with support from the General Assembly and Governor Pritzker’s signature, we are now able to remove these defenseless animals from their alleged abusers and provide them food, water, medical attention as needed and ultimately find them caring, loving homes.”

In furthering the Office’s commitment to protecting the health and well-being of seniors and those in long-term care facilities, Public Act 103-0428, sponsored in the House by Representatives Terra Costa Howard, Tom Weber and Camille Lilly and in the Senate by Senators Suzy Glowiak Hilton, Julie Morrison and John Curran provides that prior to employment, a health care employer or long-term care facility will now be provided with not only a potential employee’s Illinois criminal history, but also an applicant’s Federal criminal history as well as their criminal history in other jurisdictions nationwide. Public Act 103-0293, sponsored in the House by Representatives Jenn Ladisch Douglass, Terra Costa Howard, Sue Scherer, Michelle Mussman, Lawrence "Larry" Walsh, Jr., Lance Yednock, Gregg Johnson, Nabeela Syed, Laura Faver Dias, Kevin John Olickal, Harry Benton, Theresa Mah, Joyce Mason, Stephanie Kifowit, Hoan Huynh, Michael Kelly, Kevin Schmidt, Fred Crespo, Kelly Burke and Barbara Hernandez and in the Senate by Senators Meg Loughran Cappel, Jason Plummer, Sally Turner and Laura Murphy expands the definition of those protected under the Act to include all residents of long-term care facilities without regard to the resident’s age or physical or mental condition. The amendment further provides that anyone who violates the financial exploitation of an elderly person or a person with a disability statute is guilty of a Class 1 felony if the victim is 70 years of age or older instead of the previous language of "over 70 years of age", and the value of the property is $15,000 or more.

“Seniors and residents of long-term care facilities are among our most vulnerable,” Berlin continued. “They rely on others for their personal safety and day-to-day needs and my office is one hundred percent committed to safeguarding their well-being. This new legislation provides an extra layer of security for our seniors and for their families as well. I thank the members of the Illinois General Assembly for their support of this legislation as well as Governor Pritzker for his support of these important initiatives.”


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