Posted by on in Criminal Law

Courts Correct Police Error on Left Turn LawMany drivers have learned that they should stay in the left-most lane after making a left turn at an intersection and onto a different street. A wider left turn that puts you into the far lane of traffic could be dangerous if an oncoming vehicle decides to make a right turn into the same lane. However, do you know whether this is a traffic law or a safe driving practice? The answer is consequential if a police officer stops you for making an illegal left turn and finds other violations that result in your arrest. An Illinois appellate court recently upheld a circuit court ruling that said that such left turns are not illegal under Illinois law.

Case Details

In the case of People v. Walker, an officer stopped the defendant for making an improper left turn because the defendant had turned into the far right lane instead of the near left lane. As a result of the stop, the driver received a ticket for driving while his license was revoked. The defendant asked the court to suppress the evidence because the officer lacked a reasonable suspicion that the defendant had committed a traffic violation before the stop. The sides were not arguing about the facts of the case but the interpretation of the Illinois traffic law, which states:

  • A driver intending to turn left should use the extreme left lane that is legally available;
  • After entering the intersection, the driver should leave the intersection by turning into a lane that is lawfully available for a vehicle heading that direction; and
  • Whenever practical, the driver should make the left turn in the portion of the intersection that is to the left of the center of the intersection.

The circuit court granted the defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence from the stop because the defendant had not violated the traffic law. On appeal, the appellate court agreed that the law clearly does not restrict which lane a driver may enter after making a left turn. Further, the officer’s misinterpretation of the law did not justify the stop or make the evidence he found admissible in court.

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Posted by on 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.
  2. Talking Too Much: If you believe the officer suspects you of DUI, do not try to come up with excuses or ask for leniency. What you say during the stop can be used as evidence against you, and you may indirectly admit to committing a DUI offense by talking too much. Limit yourself to responding to questions, and politely decline to answer questions that you believe may incriminate you.
  3. Submitting to a Test Before Being Arrested: An officer cannot force you to perform a field sobriety test, but refusing will likely result in you being arrested on suspicion of DUI. As for blood or breath tests, Illinois has an implied consent law that requires you to comply or face an automatic suspension of your driver’s license. However, that law only goes into effect if you have been arrested. An officer may try to pressure you into submitting to the test without formally arresting you.
  4. Resisting Arrest: If the officer decides to arrest you on suspicion of DUI, you should be quiet and compliant. Do not attempt to evade or resist arrest because those could be additional criminal charges against you. You could face a battery charge if you use force against the officer. Even if you are acquitted of your DUI charge, you can still be convicted on a resisting arrest charge.

Understanding Your Rights

It is helpful to know what the police are and are not allowed to do during a DUI stop. A DuPage County criminal defense attorney at Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, can tell you whether an officer’s actions may have violated your rights. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-260-9647.

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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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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?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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