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Three Keys to Defending Against a Domestic Violence ChargePeople who are charged with domestic violence may feel like they are already being punished before their case goes to trial. Their accuser has likely received a temporary order of protection against them that may prevent them from returning to their home or seeing their children. Those who are falsely accused of domestic violence feel particularly hurt and confused about the sudden restrictions placed on them. Many domestic violence incidents do not have witnesses other than the accuser and the accused. The court will heavily rely on whether they believe each side's testimony about the incident. If you are facing a domestic violence charge, there are three keys to giving yourself the best chance to win your case:

  1. Obey the Order of Protection: Regardless of whether you are guilty of domestic violence, you can face criminal charges for violating an order of protection. That means you should not attempt to contact your accuser, either directly or through a third party. If your order prohibits you from entering your residence, you risk arrest if you sneak into your home to get your belongings. Talk to your attorney if you are concerned about properties at your residence. There are ways to secure your properties that do not violate the order of protection.
  2. Be on Your Best Behavior: You may have a reason to be angry at your accuser if you believe the domestic violence accusation is false. However, your public appearance must remain calm. Emotional outbursts – whether directed at your accuser or shared with someone else – support the idea that you are unstable and capable of violence. Your public behavior includes anything you say on social media and during seemingly private conversations with others, both of which could be used as evidence in your trial.
  3. Remain Consistent with Your Story: You do not have to testify during your trial if the prosecution lacks the evidence to prove that you are guilty of domestic violence. However, it may help for you to testify if your accuser is giving an inaccurate or incomplete account of what happened. It is important that you are consistent with your facts and the reason that you claim domestic violence did not occur. Your accuser may have fabricated the incident, the injury may have been an accident, or you may have been acting in self-defense. Whatever the truth is, staying consistent will give you credibility.

Contact a Wheaton Criminal Defense Attorney

You should immediately talk to a criminal defense lawyer if you are charged with domestic violence or served notice of an order of protection. A DuPage County criminal defense lawyer at Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, can help you respond to this allegation in a constructive manner. Call 630-260-9647 to schedule a consultation.

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Controversy Surrounds Illinois’ Felony Murder RuleFive teens have been charged with first-degree murder in Lake County for the death of another teen, despite the fact that none of them pulled the trigger on the gun that killed him. According to numerous reports, the six teens were allegedly attempting to burglarize a car at a private residence when the owner shot at them, killing one of them. The owner was licensed to carry the gun and claims he was acting in self-defense because he saw one of the teens move toward him with an unidentified object in his hand. The five teens are being charged as adults, although four of them are younger than 18. Prosecutors are allowed to charge the teens with first-degree murder because of Illinois’ controversial felony murder rule.

What Is Felony Murder?

Illinois law states that a death qualifies as a first-degree murder when a suspect:

  • Intended to kill or cause bodily harm to the victim;
  • Knew that their actions caused a great risk of death or bodily harm; or
  • Were committing or attempting to commit a forcible felony other than second-degree murder.

The third condition is known as the felony murder rule, in which a person committing a violent crime may be charged with first-degree murder without needing to prove that they intended harm to the victim.

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Posted on in Criminal Law

The Flaws in Field Sobriety TestsAfter stopping someone on the suspicion of driving under the influence, a police officer may ask the driver to perform field sobriety tests, which are meant to gauge the driver’s physical and mental responses. As a driver, you have the right to reject the tests or any other questions about your sobriety. If you believe you are sober, it is tempting to participate in the tests in order to prove your sobriety. However, you would still risk displaying signs that the officer will misinterpret as intoxication. There are three standardized field sobriety tests, each of which can pose challenges to sober drivers:

  1. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: For the first test, the officer will likely ask you to look at and follow the movement of a pen or finger. The officer is watching for signs of nystagmus, which is a condition that causes your eyes to make involuntary jerking movements. Eyes with nystagmus may be unable to smoothly follow the movements of an object. Intoxication is one possible cause of nystagmus, but some people have nystagmus when they are sober. Officers are supposed to check for signs of natural nystagmus, which would make the test unreliable.
  2. Walk-and-Turn: For the next test, the officer may ask you to exit the vehicle and walk along a real or imaginary line. The officer will tell you how many steps to take, after which you will turn around and repeat those steps. This tests both your ability to walk in a straight line and follow instructions. However, there are flaws in this test. Walking straight can be difficult, depending on where you are walking. More importantly, you are more likely to make a mistake in following instructions when you are nervous. If you ask the officer to repeat the instructions, they may misinterpret that as a sign of intoxication. The truth may be that you are distracted because you are upset.
  3. One Leg Stand: For the final test, the officer may ask you to stand on one leg while counting. You are expected to raise your foot at least six inches off the ground, keep your arms to your sides, and stay in that position while counting to 30. Some people would have difficulty completing this test in normal circumstances, let alone when under the pressure of a field sobriety test.

Contact a Wheaton Criminal Defense Attorney

Field sobriety tests are not always reliable indicators that a driver was intoxicated. A DuPage County criminal defense lawyer at Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, can argue that the results of your field sobriety test are misleading. To schedule a consultation, call 630-260-9647.

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How Federal Laws Can Conflict with State LawsIllinois abolished the death penalty as a punishment in 2011, largely due to alarming research showing that people have been wrongly convicted for violent crimes. Does this mean that an Illinois resident who commits a crime in Illinois could never face the death penalty? Only if the case is tried at the state level. Federal law still allows the death penalty, which is just one example of how federal and state laws can contradict each other in important ways.

Federal Crimes

Federal and state laws exist simultaneously and can both apply, depending on the details of a case. State prosecutors are the ones to bring criminal charges against a defendant in most cases, but federal prosecutors may have jurisdiction over a case if:

  • The alleged crime took place on federal property or involved a federal official;
  • The alleged criminal activity crossed state lines; or
  • The alleged crime involved immigration or customs violations.

You can be charged with both a state and a federal crime for the same alleged offense, but double jeopardy rules prevent you from being convicted for both. When state and federal laws contradict each other, jurisdiction can become an important issue for a defendant.

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Cyberbullying Can Have Criminal Consequences in IllinoisPeople going through adolescence are still learning the appropriate way to interact with and treat other people. Because of their immaturity, some children engage in harassing or bullying behavior. The ubiquitousness of digital communications has created a subcategory of bullying known as cyberbullying. A teenager who engages in cyberbullying may face more than school discipline if caught. Illinois classifies cyberbullying as a criminal offense, and a teen accused of cyberbullying can end up in court.

What Is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying falls under Illinois’ law against cyberstalking, which is electronic communication that causes victims emotional distress or to fear for their safety. Cyberstalking can take many forms, including:

  • Unwelcome personal messages of a violent or sexual nature;
  • Targeting someone through social media;
  • Creating or maintaining a website dedicated to harassing a victim; or
  • Using digital communications to violate the privacy or security of the victim.

Why Is Cyberbullying a Crime?

People who instigate or participate in cyberbullying may believe that they are having innocent fun and have no intention of following through on any threats. However, cyberbullying can have real-life consequences if it affects the behavior of the target. A student may stop attending school out of fear of ridicule. In a few cases, cyberbullying targets have committed suicide. Cyberbullying can be more damaging than in-person bullying because:

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