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What to Do and What Not to Do When Accused of Cyberbullying

 Posted on October 13, 2020 in Criminal Law

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.

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What Is the Difference Between Self-Defense and Assault and Battery?

 Posted on September 15, 2020 in Illinois criminal defense lawyer

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.

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Illinois Has Low Threshold for Felony Retail Theft Charges

 Posted on August 18, 2020 in DuPage County criminal defense attorney

theft, Wheaton criminal defense attorneysThere are multiple factors that determine whether a retail theft conviction is a misdemeanor or felony, which is an important distinction for the offender. A felony conviction has stricter penalties, sometimes including mandatory prison time, and causes more limitations for people who have one on their criminal record. The value of the stolen items is one of the primary differences between a misdemeanor and a felony retail theft charge. Unfortunately for Illinois residents, the state has one of the lowest monetary thresholds for a felony retail theft charge, which puts defendants at greater risk of a felony conviction.

Illinois Retail Theft Law

In Illinois, the cutoff between misdemeanor and felony retail theft charges is a mere $300. A first-time retail theft conviction involving $300 or less is a Class A misdemeanor, while a first-time conviction involving more than $300 is a Class 4 felony. To put that number into perspective:

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A Useful Guide to Understand Illinois Traffic Violations

 Posted on July 28, 2020 in Criminal Law

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:

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What is Sexting and How Can it Lead to Criminal Charges?

 Posted on June 21, 2020 in Child Pornography

What is Sexting and How Can it Lead to Criminal Charges?With the mass use of cellphones by teenagers and young adults, laws have had to be modernized to stay relevant and effective. Pornography involving people younger than 18 has long been banned in the U.S. Such content has become even more easily created and accessible now that cellphones are in the hands of adolescents. The convenience of built-in cameras and instant messaging has paved the way for a modern phenomenon known as sexting. Taking and disseminating sexually explicit photos is common among today’s teens. On average, one in five teens has sent or posted semi-nude or nude videos or pictures of themselves. Unsurprisingly, many of these teens do not realize the serious allegations and penalties that come along with this explicit content.

Guilty Parties

The consequences for possessing sexually explicit content of minors extend to a number of individuals, including the photographer, the sender, and the recipient. The following are possible charges that one could face in Illinois:

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What Are the Consequences of Illegally Possessing Prescription Drugs?

 Posted on May 29, 2020 in DuPage County criminal defense attorney

What Are the Consequences of Illegally Possessing Prescription Drugs?With rising awareness of the potential abuse of prescription drugs, Illinois lawmakers have cracked down on the illegal possession and distribution of these drugs. Prescription painkillers and amphetamines can be as addictive as the well-known illegal drugs but are more readily available to some people because of their legal uses. A prescription drug charge in Illinois is a felony offense, and a conviction may result in mandatory prison time. With the right criminal defense lawyer, you can contest the charge and prevent severe consequences.

What Are Criminal Offenses Related to Prescription Drugs?

Prescription drugs are controlled substances, and it is illegal to possess, distribute, or manufacture them without authorization. Ways that someone can violate the prescription drug laws include:

The Legal Consequences of Underage Drinking

 Posted on April 28, 2020 in DuPage County criminal defense attorney

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:

What Makes a DUI an Aggravated Offense in Illinois?

 Posted on March 13, 2020 in Criminal Law

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.

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What Happens If You Violate an Order of Protection?

 Posted on February 17, 2020 in Criminal Law

What Happens If You Violate an Order of Protection?One of the likely consequences of being accused of domestic violence is having an order of protection against you. Also known as a restraining order, it can prohibit you from:

  • Being within a certain distance of the petitioner
  • Attempting to contact the petitioner
  • Entering your shared home
  • Seeing your children without supervision

The court may grant your accuser an emergency order of protection before you have been charged with any crimes if the court is convinced that you may be an immediate threat. You will get the opportunity to defend yourself against the accusations before the court decides whether to grant a long-term order of protection. Regardless of your opinion of the order, it is important that you comply with its terms. Violating an order of protection will result in criminal charges and possible jail time.

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Using Discovery to Obtain Evidence in a Criminal Case

 Posted on January 10, 2020 in Criminal Law

Using Discovery to Obtain Evidence in a Criminal CaseOne of the most important steps when gathering evidence for a criminal defense trial is the discovery process, which is obtaining evidence that the prosecution possesses. A law enforcement agency conducted an investigation into your case, which the prosecution will use as evidence in trying to prove the criminal charge against you. Some of the prosecution’s evidence may be impossible for you to obtain on your own, such as a police officer’s bodycam video footage from a DUI stop. You have the right to see that evidence before your trial in order to potentially use it as part of your defense strategy.

Sharing Requirements

The defense is responsible for requesting the evidence from the prosecution, and the prosecution must comply in a timely fashion. The prosecution does not have to provide evidence to the defense without a request unless it is material exculpatory evidence, meaning evidence that clearly shows that the defendant is innocent. The court may deny a discovery request if it believes that disclosing the evidence may put someone at substantial risk of harm or the usefulness of sharing the evidence does not justify the burden it would cause someone. A discovery violation happens when the prosecution willfully or unreasonably impedes the defense's access to evidence by not responding to discovery requests or tampering with evidence. If the court determines that a discovery violation has occurred, it can order that the related evidence be excluded from the trial or dismiss the case.

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