My question involves traffic court in the State of: Illinois.
This past Saturday, October 23 at approximately 1 am I received a ticket for "Pedestrians cannot cross while bells are ringing and / or lights are flashing" at a railroad stop.
I will preface after all the hassle, I just want the situation to be done with and might just pay the fine rather than contest. However, I just wanted to consult with those much more well versed in the laws whether the entire procedure was exactly right. Recap below in case the story is unnecessary.
At 1am, I hopped off the last Metra train leaving Chicago in Lombard, IL. I got off the train, only to realize after crossing the tracks on the pedestrian crossing that my friend didn't get off with me. I'm from Virginia, do not know what his address is, nor do I have his phone number besides in my phone, which had decided today was the day to die early. Realizing the situation I turned back and began to cross the tracks as the bells and whistles began going off and the train moved along its way. I threw my arms in the air, cursed, and walked away.
I made my way down to a bar by the railroad tracks and began asking for a charger. A few minutes later the police arrived and stated that I wasn't under arrest or receiving a ticket, however I would need to go with them to the police station. Along the way I explained my situation, and how I had gotten separated from my friend, no means of transportation, no address or even a phone call.
Once at the station the officer brought out his personal charger and allowed enough charge for my phone to turn on, called my friend, and let him know where I was and promptly hung up. He then refused to allow me to use his charger to figure out his address.
I sat around in the lobby for an hour and asked again for the charger and was denied, and was told to "sit down and shut up." I sat around for another 15-20 minutes, and then walked outside the station for some air. The officer stormed out the door after me, grabbed my jacket and yanked me back into the station, stating, "What the ****! That's ****ing it, you're getting that ticket now!" He then proceeded to write me the ticket. He also let me know that he was including that I needed to make a court appearance. Another hour+ of waiting in the lobby and my friend made his way from 20 miles in the wrong direction after falling asleep in the upper rows of the train, and we went back to his apartment.
Sunday I decided to go to the station to ask how much the ticket was, and if there was anything I could do considering I am back in Virginia and it would cost me well over $500 to fly back, cab to the court, and come back to Virginia. They not only couldn't answer whether or not the latter was a possibility, but even how much the ticket was. Today I called the District Court, as the station advised on Sunday, and they could not answer either, and stated that in their system it "may" not be a required court appearance and I may be able to pay online.
Is it just me or does the whole thing seem a little shady? I've never been arrested for anything so I have no experience with the process.
1. Can an officer decide to give a ticket for an offense an hour or more after the offense occurred?
2. Can I be detained against my will at the station if I am not being held on any charges?
3. Does anyone know what the fine might be for the crime?
4. Are there any procedures I can follow that would allow me to either pay the fine without needing to go all the way back to Illinois?
I apologize for the long post, and thank anyone in advance for any insight they could provide. I'm really glad I found this forum board!