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High-Profile Assault Case Becomes Hate CrimeA Chicago man was recently charged with a felony hate crime and misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct stemming from his recorded confrontation with a woman wearing a shirt depicting the flag of Puerto Rico. Shot from the alleged victim’s perspective, the video showed the man approaching and berating her for her shirt, saying that she should wear a shirt with a U.S. flag if she is a U.S. citizen. The misdemeanor charges would be punishable by as many as 30 days in jail and a fine of as much as $1,500. The felony charge could result in two to five years in prison.

Assault Charge

The man never touched the woman, but prosecutors believed his actions qualified as assault. Illinois’ legal definition of assault is conduct that makes the victim reasonably believe that he or she may be at risk of bodily harm. The video shows the man to be:

  • Initiating the confrontation despite the woman’s repeated request to be left alone;
  • Walking up close enough to the woman that he could have touched her;
  • Continually berating the woman for her choice of clothing; and
  • Generally behaving erratically.

The court will decide whether the man’s behavior was reason enough for the woman to feel endangered.

Hate Crime Charge

A misdemeanor assault conviction would likely result in a fine and mandated community service, with jail time being a possible but not certain outcome. A hate crime conviction would be more serious because of the increased likelihood of prison time. A hate crime occurs when someone commits an offense such as assault or battery because of a person’s:

  • Race;
  • Ancestry;
  • Religion;
  • Gender;
  • Sexual orientation; or
  • Physical or mental disability.

In this case, the man is accused of assaulting the woman because of her Puerto Rican heritage. In the video, the man repeatedly asks the woman whether she is a U.S. citizen and tells her she should not be wearing a shirt that celebrates Puerto Rico. Being charged with a hate crime for the first time is normally a class 4 felony. However, the man was charged with a class 3 felony because the incident occurred in a public park.

Criminal Defense

The man may have a difficult time defending himself because of the video evidence available of the incident. Normally, assault cases rely on prosecutors proving that the incident occurred as described and that the victim was reasonable in feeling threatened. A DuPage County criminal defense attorney with Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, can defend you against unreasonable assault charges. Schedule an appointment by calling 630-260-9647.



Posted in Assualt & Battery, DuPage County criminal defense attorney, Illinois criminal defense lawyer | Tagged , ,

Illinois Court Overturns Law for Weapon Possession Near SchoolsIn the February case of People v. Chairez, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that a state law banning the possession of a weapon within 1,000 feet of a public park was unconstitutional. Parks were part of a list of public places that have such a ban, and the supreme court stated that its decision did not affect the other properties on the list. However, criminal defense professionals predicted that the decision could be used as a guideline for similar weapon possession cases involving the other protected properties. It did not take long for this to occur, as an Illinois appellate court recently ruled that the 1,000-foot weapon ban outside a school is also unconstitutional.

Case Details

In People v. Green, a high school teacher observed a man in a security uniform who was allegedly wearing a holstered gun and standing outside a van across the street from the school. An assistant principal walked across the street to ask the man who he was and express his safety concerns. The man identified himself as a security guard. The teacher called the police, reporting that there was a man with a gun near the school. When the police officer arrived, the man was seated in his vehicle, and his holster was empty. However, the officer found the gun and ammunition after searching the vehicle. The man was charged and later convicted of two counts of unlawful use of a weapon for possessing a loaded weapon on a public street and within a vehicle. Because the incident happened within 1,000 feet of a school, the conviction was a class 3 felony, and the man was sentenced to one year of probation.


The defendant appealed the decision, and the appellate court chose to wait until the Illinois Supreme Court decided on People v. Chairez because of the similarity between the cases. As with the supreme court case, the appellate court determined that the 1,000-foot weapon ban around a school is unconstitutional because:

  • It unnecessarily infringes upon the right to carry a weapon protected by the second amendment to the U.S. Constitution;
  • The 1,000-foot radius seems arbitrary; and
  • There is no data showing how the ban radius around the school increases safety.

The court acknowledged that there is a pressing concern about gun violence at schools and that no one was arguing against the constitutionality of weapons bans within schools. It asked that Illinois legislators use evidence-based studies when creating laws to restrict weapon possession outside schools.

Weapons Charges

Weapon possession charges can occur after a routine traffic stop or be used to aggravate other criminal charges. A DuPage County criminal defense attorney with Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, can protect you against weapons charges that infringe upon your rights. To schedule a consultation, call 630-260-9647.



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

Is Proposed Carjacking Law Too Burdensome?Chicago area police departments are reporting an increase in carjacking incidents during the last two years, particularly amongst juvenile offenders. They believe that Illinois’ criminal laws are contributing to the problem because police often only have enough evidence to charge suspects with misdemeanor trespass to vehicle, instead of felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle. The suspects are usually released within 24 hours, which allegedly allows them to commit the crime again. The proposed legislation would make it easier for police to bring a felony charge against a suspect and detain juvenile suspects for longer periods. The Illinois Senate has already unanimously passed the bill. However, civil rights advocates fear the new law would lead to more felony charges against non-violent offenders.

Law Details

Whether a suspect is charged with vehicle trespass or possession of a stolen motor vehicle depends on whether police have any evidence that the suspect knew the vehicle was stolen. If there are witnesses to the theft, they may be unable to identify the offender because of how quickly the incident occurred or if the offender was wearing a mask. The new law would assume that a suspect is aware that a vehicle is stolen if:

  • The person cannot provide a reasonable explanation as to how he or she came to possess the vehicle; or
  • There is enough evidence that the person should have reasonably suspected that the vehicle was stolen.

Juveniles suspected of committing a carjacking would appear before a judge within 40 hours to determine whether there is probable cause to suspect the offense. If the court finds probable cause, the juvenile can be detained, pending a psychological examination. The juvenile’s representatives would need to prove that there is no immediate or urgent need for detention.


Felony charges include more serious penalties upon conviction than misdemeanor charges. The new law may prevent some carjacking offenders from avoiding felony charges, but it may also bring needless felony charges against non-violent suspects. Police could claim that a person who accepted a ride in a stolen vehicle should have suspected that the vehicle was stolen. Juvenile suspects may face an undue burden because they could be detained for weeks while awaiting a psychological evaluation. Adult suspects, by comparison, would be able to leave jail after posting bail.

Appropriate Charges

It is not fair to assume that you were involved in a vehicle’s theft because police caught you riding inside it. A DuPage County criminal defense attorney with Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, can clear you of a vehicle theft charge or get it reduced to a lesser charge. To schedule a consultation, call 630-260-9647.



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