You must be fit to stand trial before you can be prosecuted. You must also be fit before sentencing or entering a plea agreement. Under Illinois law, you are not considered fit if you cannot assist in your defense or understand the nature and purposes of the proceedings against you because of your mental or physical condition.

If your fitness is in question, your attorney must raise the issue before a plea is entered or before, during or after trial. In other words, you cannot claim you are unfit after you have entered a plea agreement or been sentenced.

If there is bona fide doubt as to your fitness, the court must order a determination of that issue before moving forward with a plea agreement trial or sentencing.

Before trial and at your request, a qualified expert may be appointed to examine you in order to determine whether a bona fide doubt as to your fitness to stand trial may be raised. If there is such a doubt, then the court may order an appropriate examination. However, the order for an examination will not prevent further proceedings in the case from taking place.

When a bonafide doubt as to your fitness has been raised, the state must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that you actually are fit or else the case cannot move forward. The court may also call its own witnesses and conduct its own inquiry.

If you are deemed unfit, the court may rule on any motions where your presence is not essential to fairly determine the issues.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. If there are questions about your fitness, an attorney can help present them to the judge.

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

See 725 ILCS 5/104-11 and People v. Westfall.

(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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Matt Keenan

A criminal and school law attorney with over 24 years of experience, I have successfully represented clients all over the Chicago area. My practice includes DUI, felony, criminal, misdemeanor, homicide, internet crime, retail theft, traffic offenses, cyberstalking, drug crimes, weapons violations, domestic battery and juvenile crime. I also represent families involving school cases. My clients come from all over the Chicago area including Skokie, Wilmette, Niles, Northbrook, Glenview, Evanston, Winnetka, Highland park, Northfield, Park Ridge, Des Plaines and Mount Prospect. I am a member of the ACLU, Illinois State Bar Association.