Wednesday, January 27, 2021

DO I HAVE A RIGHT TO AN INTERPRETER IF I DON’T UNDERSTAND ENGLISH?

The answer is yes.

According to Illinois case law, fundamental due process requires that a defendant who does not fully understand English be permitted an interpreter. Otherwise, a defendant could be deprived of his or her right to a fair hearing. (See People v. Castellano, 2020 IL App (1st) 170543).

Whenever you shall be tried for a crime, Illinois law requires the court to determine whether you can understand English and can express yourself so as to be understood directly by counsel, court or jury. If the court finds that you cannot, the court must appoint an interpreter that you can understand and who can understand you. This right extends to defendants who need interpreters for sign language. (See 725 ILCS 140/1).

Any interpreter must follow the Illinios Supreme Court Code of Interpreter Ethics which requires that they shall render a complete and accurate interpretation, without changing, adding or omitting anything.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Do the police have probable cause to arrest you? Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Even if the police acted lawfully and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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