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Illinois Supreme Court Modifies Law to Allow the Introduction of Medical Records in Criminal Cases

Until recently, Illinois Rules of Evidence 803(6) prohibited the state from introducing medical records in criminal cases. The Illinois Supreme Court took the extraordinary measure of amending Rule 803(6) in a recent DWI case, however, effectively changing the landscape for the prosecution of DWI crimes for years to come. If you are faced with DWI charges, it is in your best interest to meet with an Illinois DWI defense attorney to assess your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was involved in a collision and then taken to the hospital, where his blood was drawn. The police believed he caused the crash by driving while intoxicated, and he was subsequently charged with aggravated DWI.  During his trial, the state introduced the results of a chemical blood test that was taken at the hospital into evidence.

Allegedly, the test results, which revealed his BAC to be .247, were admitted under 625 ILCS 5/11-501.4, which permits the state to admit chemical blood tests conducted in the course of emergency medical care as a business record exception to the rule against hearsay. He was convicted, after which he appealed, arguing that Rule 803(6) prohibited the introduction of medical records in criminal matters. The appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling, and the defendant appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court.

The Introduction of Medical Records in DWI Cases

The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the trial court ruling as well, but on different grounds than the intermediate appellate court. In its opinion, the Supreme Court noted that the provisions of Rule 803(6) and section 11-501.4 were in direct conflict with one another, as one permitted the introduction of medical records in criminal cases under certain circumstances, while the other expressly prohibited it.

To address this conflict, the Supreme Court amended Rule 803(6), effectively bypassing the normal rulemaking procedures to use the case as a vehicle for imposing a rule change. In support of this measure, the Court explained that the law with regard to medical records had evolved over time and no longer required expert testimony and an opportunity for cross-examination for such records to be admissible. As such, the Court altered Rule 804(6) by striking the provision excluding medical records in criminal cases. The Court explained that the change was effective immediately but did not raise any ex post facto concerns. Based on the foregoing, the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction.

Meet with an Experienced Illinois DWI Defense Attorney

A conviction for a DWI crime can impair a person’s rights and reputation, but the prosecution must prove the defendant’s guilt via competent evidence to obtain a judgment in its favor. If you are charged with a DWI offense, it is smart to meet with an attorney to evaluate what evidence the state may introduce against you at trial. Theodore J. Harvatin, of the Harvatin Law Offices, PC, is an experienced Illinois DWI defense attorney with the skills and knowledge needed to help you seek a favorable outcome. You can contact Mr. Harvatin through the form online or at 217.525.0520 to set up a conference.

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