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New Illinois Law Allows Immediate Sealing After No ConvictionCriminal charges brought against you that are acquitted or dismissed can still hurt your reputation by showing up on your record when someone does a background check. You can prevent such embarrassment by requesting that the public record of your arrest and charges be sealed. The only entities that would be allowed to see the sealed records without a court order would be:

  • Law enforcement;
  • The Department of Child and Family Services; and
  • Employers that are required by law to conduct background checks for felony convictions.

Sealing your record is a legal process that requires court approval and the opportunity for the state to respond. A recently enacted Illinois law allows defendants whose cases end without a conviction to immediately request the record of the charges be sealed.

Immediate Sealing

The bill revised Illinois’ Criminal Identification Act so that a defendant can file for immediate sealing during the same hearing that he or she was acquitted or the charges were dismissed with prejudice. The law applies to all charges, except for minor traffic offenses. The court would be required to come to a decision during the same hearing, and prosecutors would not be allowed to object to the motion. Factors that the court is likely to consider when making the decision are:

  • The severity of the charges;
  • Your past criminal record;
  • What damage allowing the record to remain public could cause you; and
  • Whether the public needs to know about the charges.

Benefits

Illinois law already allowed defendants who did not receive a conviction to petition to seal their records at any time. Offering an immediate petition and decision helps defendants in a couple of ways:

  • Filing the request at a later date may be more costly to the defendant. He or she may need to return to court for the decision, requiring additional court and attorney fees; and
  • When a court approves sealing a record, there is a 60-day waiting period before it is enacted. The state’s attorney and state police are given that long to file an appeal. Immediate sealing means that the waiting period will start the same day that the case ends.

Clearing Your Name

If you were not convicted of the criminal charges brought against you, you must finish the process of protecting your reputation by sealing or expunging your record. A DuPage County criminal defense attorney with Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, can prepare you to immediately request your records be sealed and defend you against any objections. Schedule an appointment by calling 630-260-9647.

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/fulltext.asp?DocName=&SessionId=91&GA=100&DocTypeId=HB&DocNum=514&GAID=14&LegID=&SpecSess=&Session=

Posted in Criminal Law, DuPage County criminal defense attorney, Illinois criminal defense lawyer, New Illinois Law | Tagged , , ,

Sleeping Judge Not Enough for MistrialYour trial when facing criminal charges is a vitally important moment in you life. A conviction can result in a prison sentence and will remain on your record. So, you may be understandably offended if a judge or juror falls asleep during your trial. The action implies that your trial is not worth staying awake for. You may even seek a mistrial on the grounds that a judge or juror was not paying proper attention during the trial. However, Illinois courts have ruled that an isolated incident of a person napping during a trial is not enough reason to cast doubt on the trial’s outcome.

Recent Example

A defendant recently appealed his first-degree murder conviction, on the grounds that there should have been a mistrial after a judge apparently fell asleep during testimony. The trial transcript shows an exchange between both counsel and the judge following a video testimony. The judge did not respond to repeated requests to turn the lights back on until a clerk reportedly poked him to wake him up. The jury eventually found the defendant guilty, and he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. The defense counsel filed a motion for a mistrial, claiming that the judge had fallen asleep multiple times during the trial. The judge denied both the motion and the allegation, stating that:

  • His eyes may have been closed during the video testimony, but he was still listening;
  • He never lost control of the courtroom; and
  • The allegation did not affect the evidence during the trial.

Varying Opinions

A majority of an Illinois appellate court upheld the judge’s decision to deny a mistrial. The majority opinion stated that the judge falling asleep at certain points in the trial was harmless and did not make the outcome fundamentally unfair. The judge was not asked to make any evidentiary rulings, and the prosecution’s evidence was considered to be overwhelming. However, one justice dissented from the majority opinion, arguing that the judge falling asleep was unfair to the defendant. In her minority opinion, the justice stated that a judge must remain awake and aware during a jury trial because:

  • The judge is responsible for assuring that the defendant has a fair trial; and
  • The judge falling asleep suggests to the jury that the testimony is unimportant.

Receiving a Fair Trial

Criminal trials rely upon all parties involved treating the proceedings with respect. A DuPage County criminal defense attorney with Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, will make sure that you receive a fair trial. Schedule an appointment by calling 630-260-9647.

Source:

http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/Opinions/AppellateCourt/2017/3rdDistrict/3140659.pdf

Posted in Criminal Law, DuPage County criminal defense attorney, Illinois criminal defense lawyer | Tagged , , ,

Unlawful Search Dismisses Drug Possession ConvictionAn Illinois appellate court recently overturned a man’s conviction on the charge of unlawful possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver. The defendant successfully argued that Illinois state troopers unlawfully seized and searched his vehicle before discovering the narcotics. A lower court had dismissed his request to suppress the evidence. Without legal evidence of narcotics possession, the appellate court ordered that the charge be dismissed.

Case Details

Six days before the defendant’s arrest, an undercover state trooper met the defendant in order to purchase narcotics. The defendant allegedly provided the state trooper with a small tube containing methamphetamine, but no money was exchanged. On the date of the arrest, the undercover trooper informed the state police that he believed the defendant was transporting narcotics. Police located the defendant’s vehicle, and a state trooper pulled him over for driving seven miles per hour over the speed limit. While the trooper was questioning the defendant and checking for any outstanding warrants, another trooper arrived with a dog trained to identify the presence of narcotics. The dog alerted the trooper to possible drugs in the car. The defendant allegedly gave his verbal consent for the troopers to search the vehicle, but they did not find any narcotics or evidence of hidden compartments. State police then transported the defendant and his vehicle to a local police station, claiming that impending rain would threaten the safety of the troopers at the scene. When at the station, the police began a second search and received written consent from the defendant. The troopers found tubes containing narcotics, located near the vehicle’s air filter. The defendant was charged and later convicted, resulting in a 15-year prison sentence.

Illegal Search

The defendant appealed his conviction, saying that the state police improperly obtained the evidence of his narcotics possession. Specifically, he claimed:

  • The traffic stop was unlawful;
  • The vehicle search at the scene unnecessarily prolonged the stop; and
  • The police did not have probable cause to search his vehicle on the road or at the station.

The appellate court sided with the state on the defendant’s first two arguments. The defendant committed a traffic violation by speeding, which made his stop lawful. The vehicle search at the scene began while the defendant was discussing his traffic violation and finished in a reasonable amount of time. For the third argument, the appellate court stated that police were justified in searching the vehicle at the scene but did not have probable cause to transport the vehicle and do a second search. Once the initial search did not turn up any results, the police had no right to detain the defendant any further. The written consent to the second search holds no weight because the premise for the search was unlawful.

Contesting Drug Charges

Even if police find you in possession of an illegal substance, you can contest the charge. A DuPage County criminal defense attorney with Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, can determine whether police conducted an unlawful search in order to obtain their evidence. Schedule an appointment by calling 630-260-9647.

Source:

http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/Opinions/AppellateCourt/2017/3rdDistrict/3150215.pdf

Posted in Drug Crimes, DuPage County criminal defense attorney, Illinois criminal defense lawyer | Tagged , , ,