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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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High-Profile Assault Case Becomes Hate CrimeA Chicago man was recently charged with a felony hate crime and misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct stemming from his recorded confrontation with a woman wearing a shirt depicting the flag of Puerto Rico. Shot from the alleged victim’s perspective, the video showed the man approaching and berating her for her shirt, saying that she should wear a shirt with a U.S. flag if she is a U.S. citizen. The misdemeanor charges would be punishable by as many as 30 days in jail and a fine of as much as $1,500. The felony charge could result in two to five years in prison.

Assault Charge

The man never touched the woman, but prosecutors believed his actions qualified as assault. Illinois’ legal definition of assault is conduct that makes the victim reasonably believe that he or she may be at risk of bodily harm. The video shows the man to be:

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New Illinois Law Allows Immediate Sealing After No ConvictionCriminal charges brought against you that are acquitted or dismissed can still hurt your reputation by showing up on your record when someone does a background check. You can prevent such embarrassment by requesting that the public record of your arrest and charges be sealed. The only entities that would be allowed to see the sealed records without a court order would be:

  • Law enforcement;
  • The Department of Child and Family Services; and
  • Employers that are required by law to conduct background checks for felony convictions.

Sealing your record is a legal process that requires court approval and the opportunity for the state to respond. A recently enacted Illinois law allows defendants whose cases end without a conviction to immediately request the record of the charges be sealed.

Immediate Sealing

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Posted by on in Expungement

Cook County expungement attorneyHaving an arrest on your record is more than just embarrassing; it can impact your ability to find employment and housing. Expunging your record can help you work around these issues and may even give you an opportunity to pursue an overall better quality of life. Learn more about record expungement, including how to determine if you qualify, how to take the first step, and where to find help.

Do You Qualify?

Not everyone qualifies for expungement. To be eligible for expungement, you may not have any pending charges against you. Additionally, the disposition of your case must read:

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DUI-Defense-Illinois-DUI-Attorney-Drunk-DrivingEach year in the United States more than 10,000 fatalities occur as a result of alcohol-impaired-driving crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that in 2013, about 65 percent of those fatalities were drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. In Illinois, drivers 21 or over with a BAC of.08 may be subject to prosecution for driving under the influence or DUI. Driving Under the Influence in Illinois is not limited strictly to operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol, but also includes impairment due to use of marijuana, methamphetamine, other narcotics, or prescription medication.

In Illinois alone, nearly 1000 people were killed as a result of DUI-related accidents in 2013, according to NHTSA numbers. During that same year, Illinois law enforcement made almost 35,000 DUI arrests. A detailed analysis of drunk driving offenses in the state begins to provide a profile for the average DUI offender. Statistically, men are three times more likely than women to be arrested for DUI, and the majority of offenders are under 35 years old. Offenses are most likely to occur between 11pm and 4am and the average BAC is .16 or twice the legal limit.

While these numbers may seem startling, they are actually indicative of downward trend in DUI related incidents statewide over the last several years. Since 2011, DUI arrests have dropped more than 10 percent, a development in which Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White takes great pride.

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