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Five Facts About Wrongful Convictions in 2018Illinois by far led the nation for having the most defendants who were exonerated of their crimes in 2018, according to the National Registry of Exonerations. Of the 151 exonerations in 2018, 49 of them occurred in Illinois. The next closest states were New York and Texas, each with 16 exonerations. Thirty-one of the Illinois exonerations stemmed from a Chicago Police Department scandal in which officers framed defendants on drug and weapons charges. However, the 18 remaining exonerations would have still lead the nation. Wrongful convictions continue to plague the U.S. justice system, destroying lives in the process. The National Registry of Exonerations’ 2018 report shares several facts about wrongful convictions in the U.S.:

  1. Exonerees Spent an Average of 10.9 Years in Prison: The 151 exonerated defendants in 2018 lost a combined 1,639 years of their lives due to wrongful convictions, which was a record according to the report. Two defendants spent about 45 years in prison.
  2. Two-Thirds of the Exonerations Were for Violent Crimes: Of the 101 exonerations for violent crimes, 68 were for homicide or manslaughter charges. Sexual assault charges accounted for 17 more exonerations. The remaining violent crimes were for charges such as robbery, burglary, assault, attempted murder, arson, and kidnapping.
  3. Most of the Exonerations for Non-Violent Crimes Were for Drug Charges: There were 33 exonerations for drug crimes, such as possession or sale. Many of those drug crime exonerations came from the Chicago Police Department scandal. Other non-violent crime exonerations included gun possession, fraud, and sex offender registration.
  4. A Majority of the Wrongful Convictions Were Due to Official Misconduct: The report attributed 107 of the exonerations to police misconduct, which includes concealing evidence, threatening witnesses, and producing false forensic tests. Mistaken witness identification and false confessions were the other causes of wrongful convictions.
  5. Seventy of the Exonerations Determined No Crime Occurred: You can be exonerated for one crime while still being guilty of another charge. In 2018, 70 of the defendants who were exonerated had not committed any crime, including one defendant who had been sentenced to death.

Contact a DuPage County Criminal Defense Attorney

There are organizations that dedicate themselves to exonerating defendants for wrongful convictions. However, those organizations focus on high-profile cases, which is why homicide cases were the most common in the exonerations. A Wheaton, Illinois, criminal defense attorney at Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, is your best resource if you believe you have been wrongfully convicted. We can examine the evidence in your case to determine whether there might be cause to overturn your conviction. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-260-9647.

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Rescinding a Summary Suspension After DUI ArrestBefore your case even goes to trial, Illinois can suspend your driver’s license after you are arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. A statutory summary suspension is a civil action that the Illinois Secretary of State's office will use if a DUI suspect failed a blood alcohol concentration test or refused to take the test. You may be able to rescind your suspension if you can prove that:

  • The officer did not properly place you under arrest;
  • The officer failed to warn you about the consequences of refusing the test;
  • The officer had no reason to believe that you were driving under the influence;
  • You did not refuse the test; or
  • The test results were not over the legal limit or were inaccurate.

Your suspension may be automatically rescinded if the state does not allow a hearing on your petition to rescind in a timely fashion. An Illinois appellate court recently granted a defendant’s petition to rescind for that reason.

Recent Case

In People v. Patel, the defendant has been charged with two counts of DUI and was scheduled to make his first appearance in court on Sept. 14, 2017. The defendant filed a petition to rescind his summary suspension on Aug. 14, 2017, along with a discovery request for:

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Posted by on in Criminal Law
Defense Strategies for a Retail Theft ChargeA shoplifting charge has serious consequences for what may seem like a basic crime. In Illinois, a first-time conviction for retail theft is a class A misdemeanor if the items are valued at $300 or less. There is a maximum prison sentence of one year, but offenders can qualify for court supervision instead. A second retail theft conviction is a class 4 felony and punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison. If the items in a first offense are valued at more than $300, it is a class 3 felony and punishable by 2 to 5 years in prison. The store owner may also file a lawsuit against a shoplifter, seeking civil damages. It is important to contest a retail theft charge instead of accepting your punishment.

Forms of Retail Theft

The typical image of a shoplifter is someone who conceals an item and tries to leave the store with it. However, Illinois includes several other methods of stealing in its definition of retail theft, such as:

  • Removing or altering a price tag in order to purchase an item at a lower price;
  • Placing an item in a container for discounted items, with the intention of deceiving the seller about its price;
  • Lying about being the lawful owner of an item; and
  • Using or possessing a device meant to remove a security sensor or shield the sensor from setting off an alarm.

You can aggravate your retail theft charge if you use an emergency exit when attempting to flee with the item. A first offense for items $300 or less will be a class 4 felony.

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Posted by on in Criminal Law
Defending Against a Hit-And-Run ChargeFleeing the scene of a vehicle accident is a criminal charge that can compound the consequences of your case. Whether you are being charged with a traffic violation or driving under the influence, adding a hit-and-run charge implies that you were trying to evade responsibility for the incident. It can be difficult to contest a hit-and-run charge because the facts are usually unambiguous. An experienced criminal defense lawyer knows strategies to cast reasonable doubt on the charge or minimize its effect on your case.

  1. Mistaken Identity: Your best defense against a hit-and-run charge is if the prosecution cannot prove that you were involved in the incident. There must be a reliable witness that identified your vehicle's appearance and license plate number. Even if it was your vehicle at the scene of the incident, you would not be criminally liable if someone else was driving it.
  2. Unaware of the Incident: You can claim that you did not knowingly flee the scene of the incident because you were not aware that the incident occurred. The court may find this difficult to believe if you were involved in a collision with a vehicle or pedestrian. You will need to give a reasonable explanation for why you did not notice the incident.
  3. Emergency Situation: There may have been an extenuating circumstance that prevented you from stopping, such as transporting someone to the hospital. The court may be more lenient with you if it knows that you were dealing with a medical emergency and under duress.
  4. Involuntary Intoxication: Though a rare situation, you may not be responsible for your actions while driving if someone drugged you without your knowledge. However, proving this defense can be difficult because you would need to identify when the drugging took place and explain how your intoxication affected your judgment.
  5. Not at Fault: You can argue that you did not commit the other traffic charges brought against you and were not the person responsible for the accident. This does not excuse you from fleeing the scene of the incident, but it will lessen your overall punishment if you are convicted.

Contact a Wheaton Criminal Defense Attorney

A hit-and-run charge is a class A misdemeanor if it involved property damage and a felony if someone was injured or killed in the incident. A felony hit-and-run carries a sentence of as long as five years in prison and a fine of as much as $25,000. A DuPage County criminal defense attorney at Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, will work to contest your hit-and-run charge or lessen the punishment. To schedule a consultation, call 630-260-9647.

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Probable Cause, Arrest Required Before Taking DUI Blood SampleIllinois’ implied consent law puts you at a disadvantage when you have been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. According to the law, all drivers have consented to submit to a blood alcohol concentration test by providing a blood or urine sample. A police officer cannot physically force you to provide a sample, but refusing may lead to additional charges. Police do not need your permission to take a blood sample from you while you are unconscious if there is probable cause that you were involved in a DUI incident. Despite these legal advantages, police may still skip the required steps in obtaining a BAC test sample, which allows you to request that the test results be dismissed from evidence.

Recent Example

In People v. Pratt, an Illinois court determined that the BAC test results from a fatal crash were inadmissible in a DUI case. The defendant had crashed his vehicle into a tractor-trailer, killing a passenger in his vehicle and injuring himself. An officer at the scene testified that the man was incoherent when responding to questions and an open bottle of alcohol was in the back seat of his car. A police chief contacted an off-duty detective, asking him to obtain a blood sample from the defendant at the hospital. The detective asked a nurse to draw the blood sample because the defendant was unconscious.

Probable Cause and Arrest

Prosecutors argued during the trial that the detective did not need a warrant to obtain the blood sample because of the implied consent law. The court responded that implied consent did not apply in this case because:

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