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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:

  • Their license will be suspended for three months if they receive court supervision.
  • Their license will be suspended six months for a first offense.
  • Their license will be suspended for a year for a second offense.

Possessing alcohol does not mean that the underage person must be caught holding the alcohol. Having the alcohol nearby and within easy access to them also counts as possession. The exception for underage consumption is if the teen is at home and under the supervision of a parent.

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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.
  2. Injury or Death to Another Party: A DUI incident that results in injury can be a Class 4 felony but only if the injury caused great bodily harm in most cases. The charge is a Class 4 felony if you cause any harm to a passenger who is younger than 16 or to another person while in a school zone. A DUI incident resulting in the death of someone else is a Class 2 felony, with the minimum prison sentence being three years if one person died and six years if two or more people died. You may be able to get the charge reduced to a reckless homicide involving alcohol if prosecutors cannot prove that you were legally intoxicated, but that charge is still a Class 3 felony.
  3. Second DUI Conviction: Even if a conviction would not be a third DUI, a second DUI conviction can be aggravated depending on other circumstances from the DUI incident. A DUI conviction is a Class 3 felony if you were previously convicted of reckless homicide involving alcohol or a DUI resulting in great injury or death. A second DUI conviction is a Class 2 felony if you were transporting a passenger younger than 16 during your second arrest.
  4. License and Insurance: A DUI conviction is a Class 4 felony if your driver’s license was suspended or revoked, you did not have a valid driver’s license, or you knowingly drove without auto insurance.

Contact a Wheaton, Illinois, Criminal Defense Lawyer

Preventing a DUI conviction can save you from years in prison, thousands of dollars in fines, and a criminal record that follows you for the rest of your life. A DuPage County criminal defense attorney at Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, understands the importance of your case and how to contest a DUI charge. To schedule a consultation, call 630-260-9647.

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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.

How Does a Violation Occur?

The order of protection should give you a detailed explanation of what type of interaction is not allowed with the petitioner and their dependents. The petitioner can contact the police if they believe you have violated the terms of the order. Directing a third party to make contact with the petitioner on your behalf may also be a violation of the order. The responding officer may arrest you if they believe the allegation against you is credible.

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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.

Types of Evidence

According to Illinois’ court rules, the evidence that prosecutors must share if requested during discovery includes:

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Five Important Facts About Recreational Marijuana in IllinoisStarting Jan. 1, recreational marijuana will officially be legal in Illinois. The state had previously allowed medicinal marijuana use and decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana by issuing fines instead of criminal charges. Now, it will be legal for anyone age 21 and older to possess marijuana, whether in leaf form or infused in an edible. However, Illinois will heavily regulate the use of marijuana in exchange for legalizing it. It will still be possible to be arrested or fined for violating the state's laws regarding marijuana use and possession:

  1. Possession Limit: Illinois residents are allowed to possess as much as 30 grams of cannabis flower, 5 grams of cannabis concentrate, and 500 milligrams of cannabis-infused products. The possession limit is half that amount if you are a non-resident visiting Illinois.
  2. Use Restrictions: You are allowed to use marijuana products only in private residences and commercial properties where use is expressly permitted. You cannot use it in public places or in a vehicle. If you are renting your home, the property owner can forbid you from smoking marijuana or eating edibles in a common area. It is illegal to knowingly use marijuana products in the presence of someone who is younger than 21.
  3. Growth and Sale: You cannot grow marijuana plants in your home unless you are a medical marijuana patient. The growth and sale of marijuana are limited to licensed businesses, and each municipality will determine whether it will allow marijuana sales.
  4. Transportation: You are allowed to transport marijuana in your vehicle as long as it is not visible or easily accessible and it is in an odor-proof, child-resistant container.
  5. DUI: It is still illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana, but the state is instituting a chemical test that is similar to measuring someone's blood alcohol concentration to determine whether they are intoxicated. The law states that a driver is legally impaired by marijuana use if they have more than 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. However, some people are skeptical about the accuracy of this limit because THC can stay in a person’s blood for weeks or months, which is long after the impairing effects have worn off. Police may heavily rely on their observations of driver behavior as evidence in a DUI case.

Contact a DuPage County Criminal Defense Lawyer

Of the many laws related to recreational marijuana use, residents are most likely to have trouble with DUI laws. Police are unsure of how to objectively determine whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana or simply has traces of THC still in their blood. A Wheaton, Illinois, criminal defense attorney at Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, can help you navigate all of the new rules regarding marijuana use in Illinois. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-260-9647.

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