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self-defense, Wheaton violent crimes defense attorneyThe use or threat of force can be a criminal offense in Illinois. Threatening someone with violence is assault while committing an act of violence against someone is battery. However, Illinois allows actions that would normally be assault or battery if you were acting in defense of yourself, another person, or your property. The difference between battery and self-defense can be murky and heavily depends on the context. Your belief that you were acting in self-defense may not be enough to prevent an assault or battery charge if your response was unreasonable or excessive.

Establishing Self-Defense

There are four key components to proving that your actions were in self-defense:

  • You must have reasonably believed that you were in imminent danger of harm.
  • The threat must be unlawful, such as someone assaulting or committing battery against you.
  • You must show that force was necessary in order to protect yourself.
  • The force you used must not exceed the threat against you.

These considerations allow you to protect yourself, others, or property against criminal actions without punishment but set strict parameters that may make your actions fall outside of self-defense.

Imminent Threat

To start, the threat of harm must be immediate and a reasonable belief. For instance, the perpetrator may have made a verbal threat or acted in a way directed towards you that suggested they intended to immediately harm you. If the threat was not immediate, prosecutors could argue that you had the chance to escape or contact the police instead of taking action on your own.

Necessary Force

To be justified in using force, you must prove that the other person used or intended to use unlawful force against you. If someone was attempting to commit battery, robbery, or sexual assault, responding with force against that person may be necessary to prevent the violent crime. Force may be unnecessary if the person’s actions were criminal but non-violent.

Appropriate Force

The force you use against someone should be no greater than the amount of force the person is using against you. This is most relevant when weapons are involved. For instance, drawing or using a gun would be appropriate if the other person is also armed with a deadly weapon. However, it might be considered excessive if the person was not threatening violence that could kill you or cause great bodily harm.

Contact a DuPage County Criminal Defense Lawyer

When you claim self-defense in an assault or battery case, it is important to establish the threat you were facing at the time. A Wheaton, Illinois, criminal defense attorney at Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, can show that your actions were necessary to protect yourself or others from harm. Call 630-260-9647 to schedule a consultation.




Posted in Assault & Battery, Illinois criminal defense lawyer | Tagged , , , , , , ,

theft, Wheaton criminal defense attorneysThere are multiple factors that determine whether a retail theft conviction is a misdemeanor or felony, which is an important distinction for the offender. A felony conviction has stricter penalties, sometimes including mandatory prison time, and causes more limitations for people who have one on their criminal record. The value of the stolen items is one of the primary differences between a misdemeanor and a felony retail theft charge. Unfortunately for Illinois residents, the state has one of the lowest monetary thresholds for a felony retail theft charge, which puts defendants at greater risk of a felony conviction.

Illinois Retail Theft Law

In Illinois, the cutoff between misdemeanor and felony retail theft charges is a mere $300. A first-time retail theft conviction involving $300 or less is a Class A misdemeanor, while a first-time conviction involving more than $300 is a Class 4 felony. To put that number into perspective:

  • The felony threshold for standard theft in Illinois is $500.
  • Illinois is one of only six states that allows felony retail theft charges for first offenses involving less than $500.
  • Fifteen states require the value of the items to be at least $1,200 before mandating a felony charge.
  • Some states have set the threshold as high as $2,500.

A group of Illinois state legislators is attempting to address the state’s strict retail theft law by introducing a bill that would raise the felony threshold to $2,000, which would be one of the highest thresholds in the country. Since the law was introduced in January 2019, it has yet to move past short debates at the committee level.

Avoiding a Conviction

If you have been convicted for felony retail theft, the court has little leeway to show you mercy. A Class 4 felony conviction in Illinois requires a minimum prison sentence of one year and a maximum of three years. Your best strategy is to prevent the conviction by arguing that there was no theft, that you did not intend to commit theft, or that an error by the retailer caused false suspicion. You can also avoid a conviction if the felony charges are dismissed under the terms of a plea deal with prosecutors.

Contact a Wheaton, Illinois, Criminal Defense Lawyer

In order to effectively defend yourself against a retail theft charge, you need the help of a skilled DuPage County criminal defense attorney. Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, has more than 25 years of experience in helping people accused of retail theft avoid imprisonment. If you are facing theft charges, you can schedule a consultation by calling 630-260-9647.





Posted in DuPage County criminal defense attorney, Retail Theft | Tagged , , , , , ,

A Useful Guide for Understanding Illinois Traffic ViolationsAt some point in your life, you have likely been pulled over by a police officer. Maybe the violation was minor, like rolling through a stop sign or going five miles per hour over the speed limit. Perhaps the officer suspected that you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In order to measure the severity of your traffic violation, Illinois has instilled a point system that is connected to your driver’s license. This is what the officer looks at, among other things, when they ask for your license and registration and then go back to their vehicle. It is important to understand the basics of the Illinois point system and your rights as an Illinois driver to have a general idea of what your record looks like in the eyes of the law.

The Point System

Maybe you remember learning about the traffic violation point system while you were sitting in your driver’s education class as a teen, but more often than not, drivers are oblivious to how these violations are tracked and what they can do to your record. Every traffic violation that you can think of has a certain number of points assigned to them. Minor offenses have lower points while more severe penalties hold more weight in points. Common examples include:

  • Speeding 1-10 miles per hour over the speed limit is 5 points.
  • Disregard for a traffic light is 20 points.
  • Driving with an open (alcoholic) container is 25 points.
  • Reckless driving is 55 points.

As you can see, the point allocation varies greatly depending on the violation that you have been accused of. Your total points become relevant if your driver’s license is suspended. In Illinois, your license will be suspended if you are convicted for three moving traffic violations within 12 months. If you are younger than 21, you are allowed only two violations. Some violations result in an immediate suspension, such as a DUI. Your points will determine how long your suspension will last. For instance, having 15 to 44 points will result in a two-month suspension.

Know Your Rights

Many incorrectly believe that there is no way to argue against a traffic violation. Depending on the severity of the violation, you may be willing to just pay the fine and move on. However, more serious violations could land you with large fees, a revoked license, and even time behind bars. It is important to know what your rights are in the instance that you are given a traffic violation:

  1. The Right to an Attorney: No matter what the legal consequence, you always have the right to an attorney to defend you in court. It is especially important for you to hire an attorney if jail time is a possibility. However, an attorney is still useful if you would like to challenge minor charges and avoid a violation being added to your record or being charged the associated fees.
  2. The Right to Confrontation: Everyone has the right to defend themselves in court, whether that is with the help of an attorney or on their own. This can include cross-examining or questioning the arresting officer or bringing in witnesses to help your case. It is always suggested that you hire an attorney rather than fight for yourself in court since they have the relevant experience to do so.
  3. The Right to Remain Silent: As is the case with any arrest, you have the right to remain silent if questioned by the officer. Oftentimes, talking can actually get you into more trouble than keeping quiet, especially when you do not have an attorney present. You should always wait for your attorney to stand by your side before commenting on your case.
  4. The Right to an Appeal: If you believe the judge’s decision on your case was unfair or not legally sound, you can appeal their decision and ask for things to be reexamined. A notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days of your traffic court date’s final decision.

Contact a DuPage County Traffic Violations Lawyer

Anyone who is facing criminal charges, even something that seems as minor as a traffic violation, has a right to an attorney and legal defense. Since many people are unaware of the traffic violation disciplinary system, they may not realize that their license hangs on the precipice of suspension or revocation. Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, has over 25 years of experience defending those who are facing criminal charges, including traffic violations. He works tirelessly to help you build your defense strategy and execute it in court. For help fighting traffic violations, contact our Wheaton criminal defense attorney at 630-260-9647 to schedule your consultation.




Posted in Criminal Law, Driver's License Suspension and Revocation, Illinois criminal defense lawyer, Traffic Violation | Tagged , , , ,