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.

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sex crime, campus police, Illinois Criminal Defense LawyerA new measure has been proposed in the Illinois House that would change the way in which sexual assaults are investigated on college campuses. The bill was drafted in response to a number of high-profile cases involving campus sex crimes that university police and administrators have been accused of mishandling.

In late March, Representative David Harris, R-ArlingtonHeights, introduced House Bill 3520, known as the Investigations of Sexual Assault in Higher Education Act. In drafting the bill, Rep. Harris hoped to address growing concerns that police departments on public university and community college campuses may be hamstrung in their efforts to effectively investigate sex crimes occurring in their jurisdiction. His proposal would make local law enforcement officials, such as municipal police departments and county sheriffs, responsible for the investigation of such crimes.

My concern was that campus police are not as equipped, trained, and prepared to handle allegations of sexual assaults as are trained law enforcement officers, he said. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, he indicated the dangerous possibility exists that a campus police department may be more interested in protecting the school from negative publicity than seeking justice for victims. I’m not saying this happens, Harris said, but there could be a bias on the part of campus police.

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underage drinking, 911 law, Wheaton criminal defense lawyerBetween 2008 and 2012, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported that there were nine underage alcohol-induced deaths in the state. This number included only alcohol overdoses, and did not consider the potentially hundreds of deaths caused by other means in which alcohol may have played a role, such as drunk-driving auto accidents. The loss of life due to underage drinking is certainly tragic, and Illinois lawmakers are taking measures aimed at preventing future deaths.

State Representative Scott Drury, D-Highwood, sponsored a bill which passed the Illinois House last month, and was recently introduced in the state Senate. The measure would provide a level of legal protection for underage drinkers who call 911 to help a friend in danger of overdrinking. Nearly two dozen other states have enacted similar legislation, sometimes called Good Samaritan 911 laws, and Illinois law currently provides such protection in drug overdose situations.

Inspired by an alcohol-related death of an underage drinker in his district, Drury sees the proposed law as a way to alleviate some of the fear associated with contacting authorities in an emergency situation. It does not condone underage drinking at all, he said. It just recognizes that underage drinking happens and when it happens and people need help, they should get the help. He also indicated that the measure would allow law enforcement to determine if a call was made in good faith, rather than to simply avoid trouble.

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