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Four Things to Avoid Doing During a DUI Stop

 Posted on August 15, 2018 in Criminal Law

Four Things You Should Avoid Doing During a DUI StopThere are several ways that you can contest a driving under the influence charge when you are in court. The officer must have a reasonable suspicion that you are violating the law in order to stop you and probable cause that you are intoxicated in order to arrest you. A lack of a warrant to search your vehicle or evidence that you were intoxicated can lead to your acquittal or the dismissal of the charges. However, the prosecution can use your decisions during your stop and arrest as evidence against you. You can unintentionally incriminate yourself based on what you say or do. Here are four things that you should avoid doing during a DUI stop:

  1. Being Hostile Towards the Officer: You may be upset or frustrated that the officer stopped you, but refusing to cooperate from the start will make the officer more suspicious. You should remain calm, provide the documentation that he or she asks for and respond to his or her questions. Failing to cooperate with the officer could result in an obstruction of justice charge that also reflects poorly on your DUI defense.

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High-Profile Assault Case Becomes Hate Crime

 Posted on July 16, 2018 in Assault & Battery

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:

Illinois Court Overturns Law for Weapon Possession Near Schools

 Posted on June 18, 2018 in Criminal Law

Illinois Court Overturns Law for Weapon Possession Near SchoolsIn the February case of People v. Chairez, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that a state law banning the possession of a weapon within 1,000 feet of a public park was unconstitutional. Parks were part of a list of public places that have such a ban, and the supreme court stated that its decision did not affect the other properties on the list. However, criminal defense professionals predicted that the decision could be used as a guideline for similar weapon possession cases involving the other protected properties. It did not take long for this to occur, as an Illinois appellate court recently ruled that the 1,000-foot weapon ban outside a school is also unconstitutional.

Case Details

In People v. Green, a high school teacher observed a man in a security uniform who was allegedly wearing a holstered gun and standing outside a van across the street from the school. An assistant principal walked across the street to ask the man who he was and express his safety concerns. The man identified himself as a security guard. The teacher called the police, reporting that there was a man with a gun near the school. When the police officer arrived, the man was seated in his vehicle, and his holster was empty. However, the officer found the gun and ammunition after searching the vehicle. The man was charged and later convicted of two counts of unlawful use of a weapon for possessing a loaded weapon on a public street and within a vehicle. Because the incident happened within 1,000 feet of a school, the conviction was a class 3 felony, and the man was sentenced to one year of probation.

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Is Proposed Carjacking Law Too Burdensome?

 Posted on May 17, 2018 in Criminal Law

Is Proposed Carjacking Law Too Burdensome?Chicago area police departments are reporting an increase in carjacking incidents during the last two years, particularly amongst juvenile offenders. They believe that Illinois’ criminal laws are contributing to the problem because police often only have enough evidence to charge suspects with misdemeanor trespass to vehicle, instead of felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle. The suspects are usually released within 24 hours, which allegedly allows them to commit the crime again. The proposed legislation would make it easier for police to bring a felony charge against a suspect and detain juvenile suspects for longer periods. The Illinois Senate has already unanimously passed the bill. However, civil rights advocates fear the new law would lead to more felony charges against non-violent offenders.

Law Details

Whether a suspect is charged with vehicle trespass or possession of a stolen motor vehicle depends on whether police have any evidence that the suspect knew the vehicle was stolen. If there are witnesses to the theft, they may be unable to identify the offender because of how quickly the incident occurred or if the offender was wearing a mask. The new law would assume that a suspect is aware that a vehicle is stolen if:

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Domestic Violence Accusations Can Damage Your Reputation

 Posted on April 16, 2018 in Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Accusations Can Damage Your ReputationDomestic violence charges brought against you can be resolved with little or no legal consequences. Prosecutors may drop the case due to a lack of evidence or a court may find you not guilty of the charge. Unfortunately, accusations of domestic violence can be enough to damage your reputation. Some people will jump to conclusions about your character without knowing the facts of the case. Even if you are never convicted, they may decide that you must have been guilty of some wrongdoing because you were charged. Clear vindication from your domestic violence accusations is the best way to restore your reputation.

Lack of Privacy

It can be nearly impossible to keep knowledge of domestic violence charges against you private:

Illinois Lawmakers Consider Trying Young Adults in Juvenile Court

 Posted on March 17, 2018 in Criminal Law

Illinois Lawmakers Consider Trying Young Adults in Juvenile CourtMembers of the Illinois House of Representatives have proposed legislation that would allow young adults to be tried in juvenile court. The bill would amend the Illinois Child and Family Services Act to change the definition of a delinquent minor:

  • Starting in 2019, a delinquent minor would include anyone who committed a misdemeanor before the age of 19; and
  • Starting in 2021, the age limit would expand to anyone who committed a misdemeanor before the age of 21.

Judges would be allowed to decide whether defendants ages 18 to 20 should appear before an adult or juvenile court. The goal of the legislation is to reduce the recidivism rate of younger offenders who may be legal adults but are still maturing mentally.

Benefits

Civil rights groups criticize the prison system for creating career criminals. Younger offenders are locked up with little concern for how they will start a new life upon their release. With limited job skills and a criminal record, some former convicts return to the criminal behavior that initially got them arrested. Going through the juvenile court system has many advantages because the goal is to rehabilitate the offender:

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Recording Police Officers Is Allowed, With Some Limits

 Posted on February 15, 2018 in Criminal Law

Recording Police Officers Is Allowed, With Some LimitsVideo recordings of arrests can shed light on instances of police misconduct. A recording may show that the police officer’s account of the arrest was inaccurate or that the officer was overly aggressive with the suspect. The evidence may be enough to dismiss or reduce criminal charges. Police officers sometimes wear body cameras or have dashboard cameras in their vehicles. However, prosecutors will try to suppress video evidence that may hurt their argument. The defense can petition to obtain the video or present its own recording from the defendant or a third party. Illinois allows the public to record interactions with police officers, though there are circumstances in which it may be illegal.

Eavesdropping Law

Before a 2014 Illinois Supreme Court ruling, it was illegal to record a police officer during an arrest without his or her consent. After the law was deemed unconstitutional, Illinois lawmakers amended the section of the criminal code regarding eavesdropping. From the public's perspective, the changes improved the eavesdropping law in a couple of ways:

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Warrant Not Required When Hospital Initiates Toxicology Test

 Posted on January 18, 2018 in Criminal Law

Warrant Not Required When Hospital Initiates Toxicology TestA recent Illinois appellate court decision gained attention because it questioned the constitutionality of a state law that allows police to forcibly obtain a blood or urine sample after a person is arrested for driving under the influence. The court remanded a DUI conviction because police forced the defendant to provide samples without presenting a warrant, even though they had ample time to obtain one. The court stated that the Illinois law violates the fourth amendment of the U.S. Constitution because it allows police to conduct a warrantless search without needing to prove urgency. While it was a win for DUI defendants in the state, the decision applies only when specific circumstances occur. There are still scenarios where prosecutors can legally use results from blood or urine tests administered without a warrant.

Recent Example

In the case of People v. Sykes, the defendant was convicted on charges of driving under the influence of cannabis and child endangerment. The defendant had crashed her car into a wall after a day at the beach with her children. A responding police officer described her as smelling of alcohol and being disoriented. After she was taken to the hospital for examination, police arrested her on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. The defendant refused a police request to submit to a blood or urine test, and two police officers waited outside her room while she received further treatment. A doctor asked a nurse to obtain a urine sample to determine whether the woman had any intoxicating substances in her system that would explain her disoriented state. The woman refused to give a sample, and the nurse used a catheter to obtain it. The nurse requested the help of several people to hold the woman down while inserting the catheter, including the two police officers. The urine sample showed the woman had cannabis and PCP in her system. Prosecutors obtained the test results months later, which they used to add the DUI cannabis charge.

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New Illinois Law Allows Immediate Sealing After No Conviction

 Posted on December 20, 2017 in Criminal Law

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

The bill revised Illinois’ Criminal Identification Act so that a defendant can file for immediate sealing during the same hearing that he or she was acquitted or the charges were dismissed with prejudice. The law applies to all charges, except for minor traffic offenses. The court would be required to come to a decision during the same hearing, and prosecutors would not be allowed to object to the motion. Factors that the court is likely to consider when making the decision are:

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Sleeping Judge Not Enough for Mistrial

 Posted on November 16, 2017 in Criminal Law

Sleeping Judge Not Enough for MistrialYour trial when facing criminal charges is a vitally important moment in you life. A conviction can result in a prison sentence and will remain on your record. So, you may be understandably offended if a judge or juror falls asleep during your trial. The action implies that your trial is not worth staying awake for. You may even seek a mistrial on the grounds that a judge or juror was not paying proper attention during the trial. However, Illinois courts have ruled that an isolated incident of a person napping during a trial is not enough reason to cast doubt on the trial’s outcome.

Recent Example

A defendant recently appealed his first-degree murder conviction, on the grounds that there should have been a mistrial after a judge apparently fell asleep during testimony. The trial transcript shows an exchange between both counsel and the judge following a video testimony. The judge did not respond to repeated requests to turn the lights back on until a clerk reportedly poked him to wake him up. The jury eventually found the defendant guilty, and he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. The defense counsel filed a motion for a mistrial, claiming that the judge had fallen asleep multiple times during the trial. The judge denied both the motion and the allegation, stating that:

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