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Posted on in Criminal Law

wheaton defense lawyerPolice recently arrested three teens who allegedly broke into several cars one night in Elmhurst, a town on the DuPage and Cook county border. Area residents called the police after seeing the teens pulling on car door handles. An investigation revealed that they allegedly gained entry to three cars and stole from one. Police charged the teens with one count of Burglary to a Motor Vehicle and two counts of Criminal Trespass to a Motor Vehicle.  Burglary involves an unlawful invasion of privacy. Furthermore, entering a property without permission can lead to violence between the offender and property occupants. For these reasons, burglary is considered a felony offense in Illinois. 

Burglary to a Motor Vehicle

According to the Illinois Criminal Code, there is only one definition for burglary. Burglary occurs when:

  • An individual enters a building or structure without permission
  • The individual intends to commit a felony or theft

Burglary is not limited to residential houses and apartments. The offense may involve a house trailer, aircraft, watercraft, railroad car, or motor vehicle. The law equates a vehicle to a residence because people could (and sometimes do) live in a vehicle. 

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Posted on in Criminal Law

wheaton defense lawyerCivil rights groups are celebrating Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker for signing a number of measures into law designed to expand the rights of the LGBTQ community. These include updating insurance laws to include LGBTQ families, same-sex marriage guidelines, and repealing the controversial criminal transmission of HIV law. Before the recent change, individuals with HIV could face criminal charges for exposing others to the virus. 

Criminal Transmission Of HIV

State lawmakers passed the law in the 1980s, the height of the AIDS scare. However, critics have since argued that the law was misguided and criminalized those living with HIV. Under the previous law in the Illinois Criminal Code, you could be charged with a Class 2 felony if you knew you were HIV positive and you had sex without wearing a condom, gave blood, or simply bled on another person. If convicted, you could face up to seven years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Many critics argued individuals living with HIV faced the threat of prosecution even if they did not transmit the disease to another person. 

Now that the governor signed House Bill 1063, lawmakers say they are modernizing Illinois state law. They argued the law did nothing to decrease HIV infection rates and instead increased stigma against those living with the disease. State Sen. Robert Peters, a Democrat from Chicago, called the law “outdated, dangerous, and discriminatory” because it made the infected live in fear of legal consequences for “simply living their lives."

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DuPage County criminal defense attorneyIf you are apprehended by law enforcement for any criminal charges, including DUI, drug charges, assault, Internet sex crimes, or a wide variety of other criminal offenses, there are myriad ways that a police officer could fail to follow proper procedures during and after your arrest that could be used against the prosecution if your case goes to trial. Anything from use of excessive force to neglecting to read you your rights or corrupting the evidence collected at the scene, be it unintentionally or otherwise. However, in this age of the COVID-19 pandemic, even with the first round of vaccines already being rolled out, there is an increased likelihood of the police making some mistakes that could infect you with the COVID-19 virus. If that is the circumstance, you might get the case dismissed or you could win the case on that single technicality. Here is an overview of the potential in using coronavirus exposure as a unique criminal defense strategy for this unprecedented time in history.

Law Enforcement Procedures in Place to Cope with COVID-19 in Illinois

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at the federal level and state health authorities, as well as city-wide governments throughout Illinois at the local level, have issued directives and guidance for law enforcement concerning properly handling arrests and jailing or imprisonment during the pandemic. Among the major changes in police officer behaviors and procedures due to COVID-19 are:

  • The same advice given to civilians. Officers must maintain good hand hygiene by washing your hands/sanitizing yourself, do not touch your face, wear personal protective equipment (PPE like masks) whenever possible, and keep your distance at six feet whenever possible (within reason in the case of officers, provided it does not interfere with proper arrest and booking procedures).
  • If COVID-19 exposure or infection is suspected, the police should notify the EMS so they can evaluate anyone who exhibits symptoms and take them to a healthcare facility for initial care.
  • Disinfect belts, gear, and equipment regularly, especially if exposure is suspected.
  • For jailing, if the alleged offender is exhibiting COVID symptoms or claims to have COVID, the officer must attempt to separate them from the other people in jail or working in the jail as often as possible, even if that means giving them their own cell whenever possible until the alleged offender can get tested for the virus.

If you suspect or witness the police blatantly or deliberately—possibly even maliciously—not following such safety guidelines, your experienced lawyer might be able to use that during his arguments in court.

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cyberbullying, Wheaton criminal defense attorneyIn this brave new digital age of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, and countless other social media apps and websites, bullying is no longer just an in-person way for a kid to get some lunch money at school. It is now a global issue that, under many circumstances, has the potential to be as harmful as it ubiquitous—sometimes even involving adults.

Schools are not the only organizations taking notice of this modern type of bullying. In fact, there is computer crime legislation in place across the nation, including Illinois, that sets forth rules to legally punish those who engage in cyberbullying. If you are accused of cyberbullying, consider these tips.

DO NOT:

  • Close or deactivate online accounts used to propagate the cyberbullying or open new accounts. This is a bit like hiding the murder weapon if accused of murder, only the hiding place is in plain sight. Social media sites and cell service providers often can retrieve data regardless of account status. More importantly, suspicious major online account actions can backfire and make you look guilty from the start.
  • Reach out to the accuser. Of course, you would like to civilly handle things without intervention from the law, but if the accuser is already getting the law involved, communicating without legal representation could create a host of legal issues for you as the case progresses.
  • Threaten those who could offer evidence or testimony against you. As with most criminal cases, the slightest tinge of a warning directed toward acquaintances and even your friends or family who might be able to give the prosecution help with their case could give the court all the evidence it needs to find you guilty.

DO:

  • Delete the messages, images, or other content that is causing harm. Unlike deactivating accounts, which is usually only helpful if keeping those accounts open would cause harm to the person being bullied, removing the content if posted publicly online will prevent further damage to the person’s reputation and psychological state. And, of course, do not post anything new about the situation, and do not persist with cyberbullying.
  • Hire a criminal defense attorney. Do not think you can handle this on your own. The penalties for cybercrimes, including cyberstalking and cyberbullying, are steep, including up to three years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Do not think being a minor makes a difference, either. Earlier this year, two teen girls in Ohio were charged criminally for telecommunication harassment. You will need an experienced attorney to help guide you through this challenging process.
  • Communicate with your children and/or lawyer. Be open and honest about the situation. If your child is being accused, have a talk with them about why what they might have done would be wrong and why they have been accused of it. Get their side of the story and then offer guidance. If you are the one being accused, be open and honest with your lawyer. Your lawyer is your ally throughout the process. Give him or her all the facts so he or she can better defend you.

Contact a DuPage County Computer Crimes Attorney

Do not let cyberbullying ruin you or anyone else's life. Call a Wheaton, IL, cyberbullying lawyer at 630-260-9647 for a free consultation. Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, offers valuable legal representation that is responsive to the needs of you or your child if accused of cyberbullying. He will use his prior experience in law enforcement as a police officer and commissioner to anticipate the prosecution’s arguments and properly prepare your defense. With the help of experts in computer forensics and other Internet-savvy professionals, he will do everything possible to develop a winning defense for you.

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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.

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