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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.

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=062500050K11-401

Posted in Criminal Law, DuPage County criminal defense attorney, Hit and Run, Illinois criminal defense lawyer, Traffic Violation | Tagged , ,

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:

  • Police had not arrested the defendant; and
  • There was no proof of probable cause.

The court stated that the prosecution had not shown that the detective or the police chief had probable cause to suspect that the defendant had committed a DUI offense. The detective was not at the scene of the accident and did not testify that he had read an accident report before going to the hospital. The police chief did not testify to say what evidence he directly knew of before calling the detective. The court also found the evidence from the officer at the scene to be unconvincing. The defendant may have been incoherent because he was injured, and there was no evidence that the driver had recently consumed the alcohol found in the vehicle.

Contact a DuPage County Criminal Defense Attorney

Prosecutors cannot use evidence that police illegally obtained from you. A Wheaton, Illinois, criminal defense attorney at Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, can argue that police did not have probable cause before seizing the evidence in your case. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-260-9647.

Source:

http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/Opinions/AppellateCourt/2018/5thDistrict/5170427.pdf

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

Law Enforcement Needs Warrant to Seize Digital DataYour digital devices may hold crucial evidence in a criminal case against you. Your data is the key evidence if prosecutors are accusing you of committing a computer crime, such as:

  • Possessing or distributing child pornography;
  • Soliciting sex from a sex worker or minor; or
  • Stalking or harassing someone electronically.

Other digital records can be evidence of your intent to commit a crime through your communications with others. The fourth amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects your digital devices and data from illegal search and seizure. Law enforcement must have a valid warrant in order to access your digital records as evidence for the prosecution.

Contesting a Warrant

In order to receive a warrant, law enforcement must establish that there is probable cause that you committed a crime and that searching your property may uncover evidence of the crime. For computer crimes, probable cause may come from alleged illegal activity that can be traced back to your Internet Protocol address. For other charges, law enforcement must show that there is a high probability that your digital devices contain evidence related to your charge. You have multiple grounds for contesting the validity of a warrant, such as:

  • The warrant not giving authorization to seize electronic data;
  • Police waiting too long to conduct a search after obtaining a warrant, making the warrant stale; or
  • Police basing probable cause on misinformation or a misrepresentation of the facts.

Staleness claims rarely work in warrants for digital records because electronic data is designed for longevity. A warrant to search for records in your home or office is often assumed to include electronic devices, even if they are not specified in the warrant.

Cloud Data

You may store some of your digital records on a cloud storage system, meaning that a third-party server is holding that data and allowing you to remotely access it. There has been some legal debate about whether a warrant to seize and search your digital devices includes your cloud data. Two federal court opinions have set precedents:

  • Law enforcement cannot seize cloud data if the cloud server permanently resides in one location outside of U.S. jurisdiction; but
  • Cloud data is vulnerable to a warrant if the cloud service moves the data amongst multiple servers, including some located in U.S. jurisdiction.

Contact a Wheaton Criminal Defense Attorney

Courts approve search warrants without requiring law enforcement to establish probable cause or search parameters. A DuPage County criminal defense lawyer with Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, will contest evidence obtained from an unlawful search. To schedule a consultation, call 630-260-9647.

Source:

https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/criminal-ccips/legacy/2015/01/14/ssmanual2009.pdf

Posted in Child Pornography, Computer Crimes, Criminal Law, Cyberbullying, DuPage County criminal defense attorney, Illinois criminal defense lawyer | Tagged , , ,