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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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The Legal Consequences of Underage DrinkingUnderage drinking is a common activity among teens in social situations. Even those who do not enjoy drinking may feel pressured to fit in with their peers. Parents understand the dangers of underage drinking but may think of it more as a matter of parental discipline than legal punishment. Possession or consumption of alcohol by someone younger than 21 is a crime in Illinois with serious consequences. The penalties become harsher if the drinking is combined with other offenses, such as driving or using a fake ID.

Possession and Consumption

Underage possession or consumption of alcohol is a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois, punishable by a maximum fine of $2,500 and as long as a year in jail. Jail time is highly unlikely for this offense. The biggest consequence for the teen may be the loss of their driving privileges:

  • Their license will be suspended for three months if they receive court supervision.
  • Their license will be suspended six months for a first offense.
  • Their license will be suspended for a year for a second offense.

Possessing alcohol does not mean that the underage person must be caught holding the alcohol. Having the alcohol nearby and within easy access to them also counts as possession. The exception for underage consumption is if the teen is at home and under the supervision of a parent.

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What Makes a DUI an Aggravated Offense in Illinois?Any conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs will come with serious consequences, but the punishment can be even more severe if you are convicted for an aggravated DUI. Unlike a standard DUI, an aggravated DUI is certain to be at least a Class 4 felony and may come with mandatory prison time, larger fines, and longer driver’s license suspension periods. What constitutes an aggravated DUI in Illinois? There are several ways that your DUI charge can become aggravated:

  1. Third DUI Conviction: If you have been convicted for DUI twice before, a third or fourth conviction will be a Class 2 felony. There is a minimum 90-day jail sentence if you also had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.16 percent or greater and a minimum $25,000 fine if you also had a passenger who was younger than 16. A fifth DUI conviction is a Class 1 felony, and a sixth DUI conviction is a Class X felony, which is the highest class of felony.
  2. Injury or Death to Another Party: A DUI incident that results in injury can be a Class 4 felony but only if the injury caused great bodily harm in most cases. The charge is a Class 4 felony if you cause any harm to a passenger who is younger than 16 or to another person while in a school zone. A DUI incident resulting in the death of someone else is a Class 2 felony, with the minimum prison sentence being three years if one person died and six years if two or more people died. You may be able to get the charge reduced to a reckless homicide involving alcohol if prosecutors cannot prove that you were legally intoxicated, but that charge is still a Class 3 felony.
  3. Second DUI Conviction: Even if a conviction would not be a third DUI, a second DUI conviction can be aggravated depending on other circumstances from the DUI incident. A DUI conviction is a Class 3 felony if you were previously convicted of reckless homicide involving alcohol or a DUI resulting in great injury or death. A second DUI conviction is a Class 2 felony if you were transporting a passenger younger than 16 during your second arrest.
  4. License and Insurance: A DUI conviction is a Class 4 felony if your driver’s license was suspended or revoked, you did not have a valid driver’s license, or you knowingly drove without auto insurance.

Contact a Wheaton, Illinois, Criminal Defense Lawyer

Preventing a DUI conviction can save you from years in prison, thousands of dollars in fines, and a criminal record that follows you for the rest of your life. A DuPage County criminal defense attorney at Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, understands the importance of your case and how to contest a DUI charge. To schedule a consultation, call 630-260-9647.

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Five Important Facts About Recreational Marijuana in IllinoisStarting Jan. 1, recreational marijuana will officially be legal in Illinois. The state had previously allowed medicinal marijuana use and decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana by issuing fines instead of criminal charges. Now, it will be legal for anyone age 21 and older to possess marijuana, whether in leaf form or infused in an edible. However, Illinois will heavily regulate the use of marijuana in exchange for legalizing it. It will still be possible to be arrested or fined for violating the state's laws regarding marijuana use and possession:

  1. Possession Limit: Illinois residents are allowed to possess as much as 30 grams of cannabis flower, 5 grams of cannabis concentrate, and 500 milligrams of cannabis-infused products. The possession limit is half that amount if you are a non-resident visiting Illinois.
  2. Use Restrictions: You are allowed to use marijuana products only in private residences and commercial properties where use is expressly permitted. You cannot use it in public places or in a vehicle. If you are renting your home, the property owner can forbid you from smoking marijuana or eating edibles in a common area. It is illegal to knowingly use marijuana products in the presence of someone who is younger than 21.
  3. Growth and Sale: You cannot grow marijuana plants in your home unless you are a medical marijuana patient. The growth and sale of marijuana are limited to licensed businesses, and each municipality will determine whether it will allow marijuana sales.
  4. Transportation: You are allowed to transport marijuana in your vehicle as long as it is not visible or easily accessible and it is in an odor-proof, child-resistant container.
  5. DUI: It is still illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana, but the state is instituting a chemical test that is similar to measuring someone's blood alcohol concentration to determine whether they are intoxicated. The law states that a driver is legally impaired by marijuana use if they have more than 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. However, some people are skeptical about the accuracy of this limit because THC can stay in a person’s blood for weeks or months, which is long after the impairing effects have worn off. Police may heavily rely on their observations of driver behavior as evidence in a DUI case.

Contact a DuPage County Criminal Defense Lawyer

Of the many laws related to recreational marijuana use, residents are most likely to have trouble with DUI laws. Police are unsure of how to objectively determine whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana or simply has traces of THC still in their blood. A Wheaton, Illinois, criminal defense attorney at Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, can help you navigate all of the new rules regarding marijuana use in Illinois. 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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