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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.

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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:

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Domestic Violence Accusations Can Damage Your ReputationDomestic violence charges brought against you can be resolved with little or no legal consequences. Prosecutors may drop the case due to a lack of evidence or a court may find you not guilty of the charge. Unfortunately, accusations of domestic violence can be enough to damage your reputation. Some people will jump to conclusions about your character without knowing the facts of the case. Even if you are never convicted, they may decide that you must have been guilty of some wrongdoing because you were charged. Clear vindication from your domestic violence accusations is the best way to restore your reputation.

Lack of Privacy

It can be nearly impossible to keep knowledge of domestic violence charges against you private:

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Illinois Lawmakers Consider Trying Young Adults in Juvenile CourtMembers of the Illinois House of Representatives have proposed legislation that would allow young adults to be tried in juvenile court. The bill would amend the Illinois Child and Family Services Act to change the definition of a delinquent minor:

  • Starting in 2019, a delinquent minor would include anyone who committed a misdemeanor before the age of 19; and
  • Starting in 2021, the age limit would expand to anyone who committed a misdemeanor before the age of 21.

Judges would be allowed to decide whether defendants ages 18 to 20 should appear before an adult or juvenile court. The goal of the legislation is to reduce the recidivism rate of younger offenders who may be legal adults but are still maturing mentally.

Benefits

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Recording Police Officers Is Allowed, With Some LimitsVideo recordings of arrests can shed light on instances of police misconduct. A recording may show that the police officer’s account of the arrest was inaccurate or that the officer was overly aggressive with the suspect. The evidence may be enough to dismiss or reduce criminal charges. Police officers sometimes wear body cameras or have dashboard cameras in their vehicles. However, prosecutors will try to suppress video evidence that may hurt their argument. The defense can petition to obtain the video or present its own recording from the defendant or a third party. Illinois allows the public to record interactions with police officers, though there are circumstances in which it may be illegal.

Eavesdropping Law

Before a 2014 Illinois Supreme Court ruling, it was illegal to record a police officer during an arrest without his or her consent. After the law was deemed unconstitutional, Illinois lawmakers amended the section of the criminal code regarding eavesdropping. From the public's perspective, the changes improved the eavesdropping law in a couple of ways:

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