Monday, September 19, 2016

CAN POLICE PROVE THE WEAPONS ARE MINE?

You were visiting a friend when a police raided his home. In the raid, police found some ammunition or other weapons. You have a criminal record and are not allowed to possess these items. Can the police charge you with illegal possession? Can they prove the contraband was yours?

Under Illinois law, the state may prove either actual or constructive possession of contraband in order to show it belonged to you rather than someone else.

Actual knowledge may be proven if the illegal weapons are found on your person or in your immediate possession or control.

The State can prove constructive possession through circumstantial evidence. Here, the State must show that you knew about the illegal items and exercised immediate and exclusive control over the area where they were found. Constructive possession can be demonstrated when you once had physical control over the items and you intended to exercise control again, you did not abandon the items, and no other person obtained possession.

In one Illinois case, People v Moore, police were executing a search warrant when they saw defendant jump out a bathroom window. While police found some of defendant’s clothing and one piece of his mail inside the house, a defense witness testified that defendant did not live there. The court held that defendant’s flight did not prove constructive possession of the ammunition. The mail and clothing were also not enough to prove possession, since they were found in another part of the home from the bullets and drugs.

If you are charged with illegal possession of contraband, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. As with most crimes, the state must prove each element of an offense. Can they prove that you had exclusive control over the premises where the contraband was found?

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Monday, August 29, 2016

WHO IS A HOUSEHOLD MEMBER UNDER ILLINOIS DOMESTIC BATTERY LAW

In Illinois, the offense of domestic battery requires that you have caused bodily harm or made insulting or provoking contact with any family or household member. But what is a family or household member?

A blood relative or a spouse seems to obviously fit the definition. The law has further applied to significant others or live-in partners. But how much of a relationship is enough before the law applies?

Illinois courts have held that the law applies to persons who have or have had a dating or engagement relationship. This does not include a casual acquaintanceship or ordinary fraternization between two people in a business or social context. The dating relationship must have a romantic focus. A single date or a brief, nonexclusive relationship are also not enough to trigger the law.

And what if your relationship is over? How long must it be over? In Illinois, there does not seem to be a conclusive answer. However, a recent Illinois Appelalte Court decision held that a dating relationship that had ended 15 years previously did not fall within the statute because the romantic intimacy was clearly over. See People v Gray.

If you have been arrested for domestic battery or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal lawyer immediately. As with most crimes, the state must prove the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. If you are not a family or household member, then the stiffer penalties of the domestic battery law might not apply.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Monday, August 8, 2016

EXTRADITION TO ILLINOIS: THE UNFINISHED CRIMINAL CASE

With ever-expanding access to information, police in one state can easily learn about any criminal charges you have open in another state. And that can lead to extradition.

Extradition means you could be arrested in your current state and brought back to face charges in the original state. Whether you will be extradited is up to the county prosecutor, and it is impossible to predict their decision in any given case.

Sometimes extradition is the result of unfinished business. Perhaps in your younger days you got into trouble with the law. You missed your court date, so the judge issued a warrant for your arrest. Or maybe you did go to court but failed to finish the terms of your sentence. For example, you may have been required to pay a fine or perform community service. In either case, the county where your original charges occurred may choose to extradite you once police learn your whereabouts, such as through a routine traffic stop.

If you are at risk of extradition to Illinois, contact an experienced Illinois criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review the facts of your case for your best possible defense. For example, an attorney may help you through the court system to clear the underlying problem in your original case. At times, this can mean negotiating a more favorable plea agreement than you might be able to get on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.).

Monday, July 18, 2016

ILLINOIS STALKING AND CYBERSTALKING LAWS DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL

A recent Illinois appellate court has declared both Illinois’s stalking and cyberstalking laws unconstitutional because they lack the element of intent.

The Illinois stalking statute made it a crime to knowingly engage in conduct that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their or another’s safety or cause them emotional distress. The cyberstalking statute stated you could be charged if you knowingly and without lawful justification transmited a threat of immediate or future bodily harm, confinement or sexual assault against at person or their family or have caused them to reasonably fear immediate or future harm.

In People v Relerford, the appellate court objected to the “reasonable person” language used in the statutes. While that standard is sufficient to prove negligence in a civil case, it does not meet the higher burden of proof required by due process in a criminal case. Instead of merely knowing or what a reasonable person might feel, you must intend to cause the fear or emotional distress. Because the intent element was missing, the appellate court declared both statutes unconstitutional and overturned the defendant’s convictions.

The Illinois legislature is already attempting to rewrite the law.

If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced criminal law attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. If you were charged under an unconstitutional law, an attorney may be able to petition the court to dimiss your case.

If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

MORE THAN WORDS REQUIRED: AGGRAVATED ASSAULT TO AN OFFICER IN ILLIOIS

In Illinois, you can be charged with aggravated assault if you knowingly and without authority cause someone that you knew was a police officer performing their official duties to reasonably fear that you were going to cause them bodily harm. To sustain this charge, however, the law generally requires more than words.

To determine whether the officer’s fear is reasonable, the court considers what a reasonable person would normally find frightening. Words alone are generally not enough to prove aggravated assault. There must be some sort of action, such as waiving a tire iron while yelling at an officer or threatening to shoot while holding a gun.

A recent Illinois case held that a defendant’s yelling obscenities and threatening “I’m going to get your ass” while leaving a courthouse was not enough to place an officer in reasonable fear of harm. The court acknowledged that deputies have a difficult job keeping the peace but stated “We cannot find any Illinois cases that would support a conviction because mere words alone without a gesture objectively does not place a person in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery.” (See People v Taylor.)

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case to assist you in presenting your best possible defense.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Monday, May 9, 2016

HOW LONG CAN I BE PROSECUTED FOR A CRIME IN ILLINOIS?

Years ago, you did something illegal. Maybe you sold some drugs or you stole a designer dress. Now you wonder if your past could catch up with you.

How long does the prosecution have to bring charges?

The answer depends on the offense. Naturally, a crime like murder is treated differently from stealing a dress.

Most crimes have a time limit on when charges may be brought referred to as the statute of limitations. In general, in Illinois, the time limit is three years for a felony and 18 months for a misdemeanor unless the criminal code says otherwise. Many identity theft-related crimes have a seven year limit.

The following offenses have no time limit: first or second degree murder, attempt to commit first degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, leaving the scene or failling to give information and render aid in a motor vehicle accident involving death or personal injuries, concealment of homicidal death, treason, arson, forgery or child pornography. There is also no time limit for any offense involving sexual conduct in which the DNA profile of the offender is obtained and entered into a DNA database within 10 years after the commission of the offense where either: (i) the victim reported the offense to law enforcement authorities within 3 years unless a longer period for reporting the offense to law enforcement authorities is provided or (ii) the victim is murdered during the course of the offense or within 2 years after the commission of the offense.

The statute of limitations may be further extended under certain circumstances such as where the victim is a minor or is legally disabled or there is a delay in discovering the offense.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. If your offense is outside the statute of limitations, an attorney may be able to petition the court to dismiss the charges.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter,please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

Source: 720 ILCS 5/3-5 General limitations statute and 720 ILCS 5/3-6 Extended limitations statute.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Monday, April 25, 2016

FIGHTING THE POLICE SEARCH OF YOUR COMPUTER

Under the Fourth Amendment, police must generally obtain a warrant before they can search your property. However, there are exceptions such as where you consent to the search.

But let’s say, the police tell you they are looking for one thing on your computer but actually look for something else. For example, in one Illinois case, the defendant consented to a search for viruses relating to compromised credit card information, but the officers instead looked for images and found child pornography. (See People v Prinzing.)

What can you do? Is the search valid?

The answer depends on the scope of your consent. If an officer asks to search your computer and you agree, your consent may be open ended and allow just about anything. But what if the circumstances are not so cut and dried?

Under U.S. Supreme Court case law, the scope of a suspect’s consent is measured by ‘objective reasonableness.’ What would the typical, reasonable person understand by the exchange between the officer and the suspect? The court looks at the expressed object of the search. (See Florida v. Jimeno.)

In the example above, the court said that the defendant had consented to a search for viruses and not images. Thus, the search was illegal and the child pornography evidence was suppressed.

In another case, (U.S. v Price, 12-1630 & 12-1880), a police woman asked to search defendant’s computer but said she was not an expert at computer forensics and another officer would need to conduct the search. The defendant consented, but later said he was only consenting to a search at that moment and not later. The court said the defendant’s understanding of a time limit was not reasonable since the officer had told him she couldn’t do the search herself.

Once you have given consent, you still have a right to limit it or withdraw it.

If you are charged with a computer-related or other offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case to help present the best possible defense. If the search if illegal, an attorney may be able to bring a motion to have the evidence against you suppressed.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

2016 UPDATE ON COURTHOUSE CELL PHONE RULES

After some confusion resulting from the recent removal of cell phone lockers at the George N. Leighton Criminal Courthouse, it seems like a good time to review the rules.

Cook County first implemented its courthouse cell phone ban in 2013. The ban is currently limited to the George N. Leighton Criminal Courthouse, 2600 N. California, Chicago. The ban was in response to security concerns that cell phones were improperly used to photograph witnesses, jurors and judges who would then be intimidated.

The ban prohibits cell phones, laptop computers, tablet computers, smartphones and all other devices capable of connecting to the internet or making audio or video recordings. Anyone violating this rule can be held in contempt of court, face a fine or jail time and have their device confiscated.

The Criminal Courthouse does provide a limited number of free storage lockers. But these lockers became difficult to oversee and were possibly used to store contraband, so the county removed them in early April. That lasted about one week and the lockers are now back. The county still recommends leaving your devices at home. The courthouse does provide public phones.

There are several exceptions to the ban. These include: jurors, attorneys and their employees, judges, persons with disabilities, news media, government employees, vendors, repair people and law enforcement. You may also bring your device if you are seeking an order of protection, you are participating in domestic violence counseling or if you are required to wear an electronic home monitoring device. If you fall into one of these categories, you must have proper identification and official business at the courthouse. For more information in Cook County, see Cell Phone and Electronic Communication Device Ban.

DuPage County also bans cell phones or communication devices in the courthouse. See Du Page County Security Information. Lake County allows you to bring in electronic devices, but they must be turned off. See Lake County Courthouse Security Brief.

If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Monday, April 4, 2016

FRUIT OF THE POISON TREE: STATEMENTS FROM AN ILLEGAL ARREST

Under the Constitution, police have to operate by law before they can deprive you of liberty or property. If your initial stop or arrest is illegal, then the poison fruits of that stop or arrest cannot be used against you subject to certain exceptions.

For example, police must read your Miranda rights when they take you into custody. If they do not, any statements made in custody can be suppressed. However, your statements may be used in court if they are sufficiently removed from the illegal way in which the police obtained them.

To determine if your statements are far enough removed from the “illegal taint,” the court looks at four factors: (1) the flagrancy of police misconduct; (2) whether there were intervening circumstances; (3) the proximity of time between defendant's arrest and statement; and (4) whether Miranda warnings were given to the defendant.

In a recent Illinois case, People v Gempel), the court suppressed statements that defendant made after an arrest based on these four factors. The court found: 1) police misconduct was flagrant in that officers ignored defendant’s requests for an attorney, saying he did not need one; 2) the results of a DNA test did not create a sufficient intervening circumstance; 3) the 37 hours between the arrest and defendant’s statements may have coerced defendant into confession; 4) while officers repeatedly read defendant his Miranda rights, their continuous disregard of those rights in reality coerced his confession. Therefore, the state failed to “purge the taint of an illegal arrest,” and defendant’s statements could not be used.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Friday, March 11, 2016

YOUR MIRANDA RIGHTS APPLY TO MORE THAN WORDS

We all know from TV that police are supposed to read you your rights—also known as Miranda warnings—after they take you into custody but before questioning begins. According to a recent Illinois appellate court decision, the term “questioning” can mean something besides verbally asking questions. It can take the form of police action.

In People v Wright, a police officer handcuffed the defendant, conversed with him about the crime, then took defendant to where he could see police questioning the mother of his children. After seeing the woman get into a police car, presumably arrested for a crime she did not commit, defendant began talking. The court held that the officer’s conduct was an attempt to get the defendant to confess. While Miranda generally applies to questioning, it can also apply to police practices. Therefore, the officer should have read defendant’s Miranda rights and defendant’s incriminating statements should be suppressed.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case to help present your best possible defense. If the police acted illegally, an attorney can bring a motion to try to get the evidence against you dismissed. Even if the police acted property and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

HOW RELIABLE IS EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY?

HOW RELIABLE IS EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY? Illinois Courts were originally cautious about allowing experts to testify about the reliability of eyewitness testimony. But as a recent Illinois Supreme Court case noted “advances in DNA testing have confirmed that ‘eyewitness misidentification is now the single greatest source of wrongful convictions in the United States, and responsible for more wrongful convictions than all other causes combined.’”

In People v Lerma, the defendant was convicted of murder solely on the basis of eyewitness testimony. The trial court rejected defense requests to allow experts to testify about the reliability of that testimony. The trial court believed that since the eyewitnesses already knew defendant, they were less likely to misidentify someone they already knew.

The Illinois Supreme Court rejected the trial court’s reasoning, stating “This is the type of case for which expert eyewitness testimony is both relevant and appropriate.” The state had no physical evidence or confession.

In the past, Illinois courts were concerend about the overuse of expert testimony, However, the Lerma court noted there had been “a dramatic shift in the legal landscape, as expert testimony concerning the reliability of eyewitness testimony has moved from novel and uncertain to settled and widely accepted.” There is now a clear trend to allow eyewitness expert testimony to help the jury understand the characteristics of eyewitness identification.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Monday, February 15, 2016

CAN YOU REFUSE TO GIVE A DNA SAMPLE IN AN ILLINOIS CRIMINAL CASE?

Generally, the answer is yes.

Under Illinois case law, extracting your DNA is a search within the Fourth Amendment. Therefore, police must have either a warrant or probable cause before forcing you to submit it. Otherwise, you may voluntarily refuse to provide a sample. See People v Ealy.

Because your right to refuse to give a sample is constitutionally protected, the state may not use your refusal to show that you had consciousness of guilt at trial.

Once police have arrested you, they may take a cheek swab. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that such a swab is no more intrusive than taking fingerprints or mugshots and can be done as part of a booking procedure. See Marilyn v King.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case to help present the best possible defense. If police acted illegally, an attorney may be able to petition the court to have any illegally collected evidence dismissed. Even if police acted properly and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Friday, February 5, 2016

THEFT OF STOLEN PROPERTY IN ILLINOIS

In Illinois, you can be charged with theft of stolen property if you obtained control over stolen property knowing it to have been stolen, or under such circumstances as would reasonably induce you to believe that the property was stolen. (See 720 ILCS 5/16-1(a)(4), Illinois Theft Statute.)

As with most crimes, the state must prove you guilty of all the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. A recent Illinois appellate case overturned a defendant’s conviction because the state failed to do just that.

In People v Netisingha, undercover officers sold Target merchandise to the defendant. Although the defendant believed the merchandise was stolen, in fact, it was not. Thus, the state failed to prove the first element of the crime.

This does not mean that if you bought property from an undercover cop, you are in the clear. Another part of the theft statute deals with obtaining control over property that law enforcement represents or implies is stolen. In that case, the state must also prove that you meant to permanently deprive the owner of the property The penalties for theft range with the amount stolen. Theft of less than $500 is a Class A Misdemeanor while over $1 million is a Class X felony.

If you are charged with a crime, you should contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can evaluate the circumstances of your case to present the best possible defense. Even if the police handled your case by the book and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected at the court house may negotiate a better plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Monday, January 18, 2016

CAN I BE CONVICTED ON MORE THAN ONE CHARGE FOR THE SAME OFFENSE? THE "ONE-ACT, ONE-CRIME" DOCTRINE IN ILLINOIS

When you were arrested, the prosecutor may have filed several charges against you. You didn’t know so many crimes could come out of the same set of circumstances. Can you be convicted on all of them?

Under Illinois law, you can only be convicted of one crime for each physical act. For example, if you killed a pedestrian while drunk driving, you may be charged with both reckless homicide and aggravated DUI, but you can only be convicted of one charge or the other. The charges must arise out of precisely the same physical conduct or must arise out of a series of incidental or closely related acts.

In the aggravated DUI/reckless homicide example, both charges are based on the same physical act—driving in such a manner that would cause death. Furthermore, causing the death of another is a necessary element of both charges. Therefore, a defendant should not be convicted of both. See People v Stutzman.

Even where charges are based on multiple acts, you may be charged with a lesser included offense, but you cannot be convicted of both the lesser and greater offenses. For example, if aggravated DUI is a lesser included offense of reckless homicide, you can only be convicted of one or the other.

If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case to determine your best possible defense. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you can on your own. Perhaps if the state has brought too many charges, an attorney can bargain for you to plea to a lesser offense. If you do go to trial, an attorney can petition the court to throw out any convictions that violate the one-act, one-crime doctrine.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Monday, December 21, 2015

CAN POLICE SEARCH YOUR COMPUTER?

The police are at your door. A neighbor complained about a disturbance and they came to investigate. You figure you have nothing to hide in your home so you consent to the search. But you do have something to hide—only it’s in your computer.

Can police search your computer? What are you rights?

Generally, police need a search warrant before they can look at the contents of your computer unless some other exception to the warrant requirement exists. (See U.S. vs Flores-Lopez.) Unlike other physical objects, computers hold vast quantities of private and sensitive information. Even when police can legally take the computer, they must still get a warrant to investigate it.

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that computers cannot be searched as part of an arrest. Generally, that type of search is allowed to preserve evidence and to protect officer safety in case the defendant has a weapon. The court held that neither rationale applies to digital data.

Officers can still search your computer if there is a compelling emergency—such as locating the whereabouts of a kidnapped child.

But what if you told police it was OK to search home? Does that include your hard drive? Police may generally look only where the object of a search may reasonably be found. Guns or drugs are not likely to be found on your computer screen. If you told police they could search your computer, however, your consent may be general enough to permit the search. This is a developing area of law.

If you believe the charges against you are the result of an illegal search, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can determine if police followed proper procedures. If not, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress any illegally obtained evidence.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Friday, December 4, 2015

NEW ILLINOIS LAW REQUIRES POLICE BODY CAMERAS AND OTHER IMPROVEMENTS

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. The vast majority of police are good people trying to do a difficult job in community service. Unfortunately, the recent epidemic of unjustifiable police killings have spotlighted more than a few bad apples. Fortunately, the Illinois legislature has acted to improve police-citizen relations in our state.

The new law taking effect January 1, 2016 makes significant changes.

First, police will be required to wear body cameras, a big step in holding police accountable to the public. Body cameras can further provide evidence that is useful for both defendants and police. Cameras must be turned when the officer is in uniform and responding to calls for service or other law-enforcement related activity.

The new law attempts to balance law enforcement interests with privacy. Officers need not activate the camera when in their squad car if they are not involved in law enforcement activities. Cameras must be turned off at a victim’s or crime witness’s request as well as when the officer is dealing with a confidential informant. The officer may also turn off the camera when involved in a community caretaking function unless a crime is being committed.

The law clarifies that the public is allowed to record police encounters although police still have a right to control a crime scene if such people become disruptive.

Officers will be required to receive yearly and long-term training beyond what they learned at the police academy including training in cultural competency. The law also bans the use of chokeholds.

The law was the fruit of negotiations between the ACLU, the NAACP, community groups and law enforcement groups and passed with bipartisan support. To see a copy of the bill, visit Illinois Police and Community Relations Improvement Act.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

CRIMINAL TRESPASS TO STATE SUPPORTED LAND IN ILLINOIS

A special Illinois statute makes trespassing on state-supported land a criminal offense. What exactly does that mean? What can happen to you?

You can be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor if you enter or stay on land supported by state or federal funds after receiving notice, either that you may not enter or that you must leave, if you are interfering with another’s lawful use or enjoyment of the property. Notice can be oral or written or can be conspicuously posted at the property’s main entrance. You might also violate this law if your entry to state property was based on false statements or documents.

Illinois case law has interpreted “interfering with another’s lawful use or enjoyment” of the property to mean the "kind of conduct which by its nature tends to hinder, disrupt or obstruct the orderly function of the official enterprise being carried on in the building or on the land.” See People v Quiroga. A protest of hundreds of people outside the state capitol did not interfere with its orderly function or public access because the protest took place on a Sunday when the state house was closed and there was no damage to property. A University of Illinois student collected petition signatures in a school building lobby after having been asked to move from the school cafeteria. The Court held that the student’s activities was not interference. Likewise, in Quiroga, a parent collecting petition signatures on a playground seeking to remove a school principal was not interference.

Effective January, 2015, the Illinois legislature added public right of ways to this offense. "Right of way" means the track or roadbed owned, leased, or operated by a rail carrier that is located on either side of its tracks and that is readily recognizable to a reasonable person as being rail road property or is reasonably identified as such by fencing or appropriate signs. Under this section, you must intend to compromise public safety by delaying the transit system more than 15 minutes or by destroying property. You must again have notice that your entry is forbidden or that you must leave. Violating this particular section is a Class A Misdemeanor for a first offense, and a Class 4 felony for subsequent offenses.

If you are charged with criminal trespass or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. As with most offenses, the state has the burden of proving each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Perhaps you did not receive the required notice or your conduct was not interfering with another’s use. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to obtain a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com. See Criminal Trespass to State Support Land,

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

2015 UPDATES TO ILLINOIS CONCEALED CARRY LAW

Illinois has tweaked its Concealed Carry law for the first time since its passage in 2013.

Under the revised law, if you are carrying a firearm in an auto, police or emergency personnel may secure the weapon if they deem it necessary for the safety of any person present. (See 430 ILCS 66/10(h)(1).) If the officer or emergency personnel determine you are not a threat and that you are mentally and physically capable of possessing the gun, they may return it before releasing you from the scene. If you are turned over for treatment to another facility, your weapon must be turned over to a peace officer who will then issue a receipt.

The 2013 law allows a licensee to carry a concealed firearm in the immediate area surrounding his or her vehicle within a prohibited parking lot only for the limited purpose of storing or retrieving the weapon within the vehicle’s trunk. (See 430 ILCS 66/65(b).) Under the new law, you need not insure that the weapon is unloaded before it leaves your car.

The prior law required a physician, clinical psychologist or qualified examiner to notify the Department of State Police upon determining that someone is developmentally disabled. The new law applies to persons over age 14 and defines development disability as comparable to an indefinite intellectual disability that arose before age 18. The disability must cause significant functional limits in the individual’s ability to perform at least three of the following life functions: 1) self care, 2) receptive and expressive language, 3) mobility, 4) learning or 5) self direction. (See 405 ILCS 5/6-103.2.)

If you are charged with a weapons offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you can on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

Source Amendments to Concealed Carry Law.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Monday, September 7, 2015

THE OFFICER WAS WRONG ABOUT ILLINOIS LAW! CAN HE STILL ARREST ME?

The police are charged with enforcing the law. But what if they misunderstand that law? What if the officer stops you based on his or her mistaken belief about what the law really means? Will a judge allow the evidence resulting from that mistake to stand?

Before he or she can stop you, an officer must have a reasonable, articulable suspicion of wrongdoing. Such a stop or search may be valid even if the officer misunderstood the law as long as that misunderstanding is reasonable. Laws can be complicated and ambiguous. A court will generally not penalize the officer over a complex law. However, if the officer’s mistake is unreasonable, you may be able to get the evidence against you dismissed.

In People v Flores, an officer stopped a defendant because he believed the defendant’s license plate frame violated Illinois’s plate-display law. In a subsequent search, the officer found heroin in defendant’s car. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that Mr. Flores’s car dealer-type license plate frame did not violate the law. Nor was it reasonable for the officer to think that it did. As a result, the court overturned the defendant’s conviction.

In contrast, the U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld a traffic stop where the officer mistakenly understood a North Carolina law to require two working brake lights. However, in that case, the law was subject to varying interpretations. Furthermore, the Court said its decision in favor of the officer only applied to reasonable mistakes of law. See Helen v North Carolina.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Monday, August 24, 2015

DO I NEED A TRANSLATOR FOR CRIMINAL COURT IN ILLINOIS?

The answer to that question depends on how comfortable you are using the English language. If there is any doubt, it may be best to err on the side of caution and ask for an interpreter early in your case.

In Illinois, the courts are required to provide a translator for criminal matters if the defendant needs one. All Chicago-area courts have Spanish translators on hand. Other translators are brought in as needed. This can cause some scheduling difficulties with court dates, but any disadvantage is far outweighed by your having a complete understanding of your court case.

The legal and procedural language used in court can be difficult to understand for a non-attorney, especially if you are already anxious about being in court. We have had clients who are normally fluent in English freeze when they get before a judge. Often the translator is simply explaining the procedures taking place. But a translator can be especially important if you are testifying, because you do not want to guess about whether you understood or answered a question correctly.

If you do not ask for a translator early in your case, a judge might distrust your later request and think you are pretending a problem. A recent Illinois Appellate court upheld a decision denying a translator because the defendant had gotten through much of the case without one. (See People v Argueta.) The defendant had repeatedly declined a translator before the trial, and a review of the record showed that the defendant answered questions appropriately.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

WHEN ARE YOU UNDER ARREST? MIRANDA RIGHTS AND POLICE CUSTODY IN ILLINOIS

The exact moment when a police interrogation turns into an arrest is not always clear. But that is the moment when the police must read your Miranda rights—those rights to remain silent and have an attorney present.

Miranda must be given when an individual is in custody and before questioning begins. These rights only apply in inherently coercive, custodial situations. To determine when they apply, an Illinois court looks at 1) the circumstances surrounding an interrogation, and 2) whether a reasonable person would believe they were free to terminate the interrogation and leave. Surprisingly, the use of handcuffs does not automatically mean you are in police custody, although it may be a factor.

To determine whether a reasonable person would feel free to go, Illinois courts consider: 1) the location, time, length, mood and mode of the questioning; 2) the number of police officers present during interrogation; 3) the presence or absence of family and friends of the individual; 4) any indicia of a formal arrest procedure, such as the show of weapons or force, physical restraining, booking or fingerprinting; 5) the manner by which the individual arrived at the place of questioning and 6) the age, intelligence and mental makeup of the accused..” (See People v Coleman.)

If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case to determine when you were under arrest and whether the police acted properly. If the arrest was not proper, an attorney can bring a motion asking the judge to throw out any statements you might have made after Miranda warnings should have been given. Even if the police acted properly and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected at the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you can on your own.

See our related post: Your Right To Remain Silent Under New Supreme Court Law.

If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

THE LAW ON PROVING POSSESSION OF DRUGS OR WEAPONS IN ILLINOIS

The police are at your door with a search warrant or maybe they’ve stopped your car for a traffic ticket. In either case, they uncovered drugs, weapons or some other contraband. Can they prove the illegal goods are really yours?

Unless you’re caught red-handed, the state can show the contraband is yours through the doctrine of “constructive possession.” To do so, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt: 1) that you had knowledge of the contraband and 2) that you exercised immediate and exclusive control over the area where the goods were found. This evidence can be circumstantial.

A recent Illinois appellate case provides a good illustration of the law. (See People v Maldonado.) In Maldonado, the court reversed defendant’s convictions for possessing heroin and ammunition. The state did not prove that the defendant had control over the premises where the search took place. Although the state had three pieces of mail addressed to defendant at the premises, it still could not show that the defendant had been near the contraband or even at the site.

Mail addressed to a defendant where contraband is recovered may prove possession if the defendant is at the scene during the search. However, mail alone may not be enough if the defendant is not present and there is little other evidence to show the defendant lives at the search premises.

The court contrasted the facts in Maldonado with a prior case where defendant had keys to both the home and the bedroom where the drugs were found, listed the search premises on his driver’s license, received mail at that location and gave the premises as his address to his parole officer.

If you are charged with this or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney, who is respected at the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you can on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Monday, July 13, 2015

THE CRIMINAL BURDEN OF PROOF IN ILLINOIS

Under our system of government, you are innocent until proven guilty.

For most crimes, this means the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt all the elements of a crime, and that the defendant committed that crime. For example, if you committed a retail theft, the prosecution must prove that 1) you 2) knowingly 3) took possession of merchandise 4) from a retail store 5) with the intention of keeping it and 6) without paying.

Beyond a reasonable doubt does not mean beyond any doubt at all, it just means beyond all reasonable doubt. While this is a relatively high burden for the prosecution, the reality is that different judges and juries have very different ideas about what “beyond a reasonable doubt” really means. Some judges may find you guilty on the exact same facts that another judge might use to acquit you. That is why it is so important for your attorney to have some knowledge about the judges in a courthouse.

Some issues that arise in criminal court, however, do not require the stricter beyond a reasonable doubt standard of proof. If you are charged with open alcohol or another minor offense, the burden of proof may be the lower “preponderance of the evidence” standard, in which the prosecutor need only show it was more likely than not that you committed the crime.

If the defendant brings a motion to quash an arrest or suppress the evidence that police seized during an arrest, the defendant must prove that the police acted improperly under the lower preponderance of evidence standard.

A DUI requires the state to prove you were driving or had control of a vehicle while impaired beyond a reasonable doubt. However, a petition to challenge the Secretary of State’s automatic suspension of your driving privileges is a civil proceeding, even though it is conducted in the same criminal court as your DUI. You, the defendant, now have the burden of proving by preponderance of the evidence that there were no reasonable grounds for the arrest or that the officer did not read you the warnings to motorists.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Perhaps the state cannot meet its burden of proof. An experience attorney can probe the weaknesses in the state’s case to help present your case in its most favorable light.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Monday, June 29, 2015

THE INTOXICATION DEFENSE IN ILLINOIS

Under limited circumstances, being drunk or drugged can be a defense to a crime in Illinois.

Intoxication is only a defense when 1) it was involuntarily produced and 2) it deprived you of the substantial capacity to either appreciate the criminality of your conduct or conform your conduct to the law.

Intoxication may be involuntary where it is produced by fraud, artifice or deceit. If someone slipped drugs into your punch, you might not be responsible for what happens next. Intoxication also includes the unexpected or unwarned side effects of prescribed medication. For example, a doctor prescribes an antidepressant without warning you that it can cause sleep walking. In one Illinois case, the court held a defendant was entitled to have his intoxication defense reviewed by the jury where he had killed his wife and her lover after having taken Zoloft. People v Hari. But even when involuntary, your intoxication must deprive you of all reason. You can’t use intoxication as a defense if you otherwise knew what you were doing.

Legal intoxication should not be confused with diminished capacity, a defense no longer available in Illinois. The fact you committed the crime when you voluntarily became too drunk or drugged to think straight will not excuse your conduct.

Because the defendant has the burden of proving the intoxication defense, it is critical to present the most compelling evidence possible. A criminal law attorney can review your case to determine if the defense applies and how best to prove it.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.).

Monday, June 15, 2015

THE ILLINOIS LAW ON THEFT BY DECEPTION

In Illinois, theft by deception means obtaining control of another’s property through deception. For example, you pretended you were authorized to collect money on behalf of a creditor or charity.

Theft by deception can include making false statements to obtain a car loan or induce others to invest in a nonexistent venture. In one Illinois case, the defendant pretended to be an attorney, collected legal fees and bond money but never bonded the “client” out of jail.

To convict you, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that (1) the victim was induced to part with money; (2) the transfer of the money was based upon deception; (3) you intended to permanently deprive the victim of the money; and (4) you acted with the specific intent to defraud the victim. (See People v. Reich.)

The degree of your offense may depends on how much you took, where, what and from whom. For example, less than $500 is a Class A misdemeanor. Between $500 and $10,000 is a Class 3 felony, $10,000 to $100,000 is a Class 2 felony and $100,000 to $500,000 is a Class 1 felony. However, if the theft was at a school or place or worship or involved governmental property, your charges can be kicked up a notch so that the misdemeanor would now be a Class 4 felony and the Class 1 felony would be a Class X.

There are also increased charges if your victim was at least 60 years of age or you pretended to represent a landlord.

If you are charged with this or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not talk about your situation to the police or a third party. Any attempts to explain yourself may give the state the evidence they need to win a conviction.

An experienced attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Perhaps the state cannot prove all the elements of the crime, for example, that you deceived or specifically intended to defraud the alleged victim. Maybe the charges result from a misunderstanding about the work you had agreed to undertake. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

Source: Illinois Theft by Deception law.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Monday, June 1, 2015

THE LAW ON CONCEALED CARRY IN ILLINOIS

In 2013, Illinois was the last state to enact a Concealed Carry law. But that doesn’t mean you can bring your gun just anywhere, even with a Concealed Carry license.

Under the Concealed Carry Act 430 ILCS 66/65: Prohibited Areas, you may not bring your firearm into the following places:

1) The building, real property or parking area for an elementary or secondary school, preschool or child care facility.

2) Any facilities under the control of a public or private community college, college or university.

3) Any buildings or parking areas under the government control including the legislative, executive and judicial branches as well as local government facilities, juvenile detention centers, prisons, jails and courthouses.

4) Any public or private hospital, mental health facility or nursing home.

5) Any bus, train or other form of public transportation as well as any facilities under control of that public transportation entity, for example, a train station or parking area.

6) Any place serving alcohol if more than 50% of gross receipts over the past three months is from the sale of alcohol.

7) Any public gathering requiring a governmental permit such as a parade.or any gathering which required a Special Event Retailer’s License.

8) Public park or athletic facility except on a bike path if only part of the path goes through the public park. You also may have a gun in a designated hunting area or on a bike path or trail in an area owned by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

9) Play areas or playgrounds.

10) Cook County Forest Preserve property

11) Gaming facilities, sports stadiums or arenas.

12) Where firearms are barred by federal law.

13) Libraries, airports, amusement parks, zoos, museums or nuclear energy facilities.

14) Private property owners may prohibit firearms but must clearly and conspicuously post a standardized sign.

If you violate the concealed carry law, you may be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $1,500 fine. For later offenses, you can be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year and a $2,500 fine. If you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the penalties increase to a Class A Misdemeanor for the first two offenses and a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison, for later offenses.

If you are charged with this or another offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Did the police have probable cause to stop you? Did the owner of the private business post the required sign? Did the place serving alcohol get less than 50% of its gross receipts from alcohol sales? Were you in the process of properly stowing your gun into a locked container within your car as permitted under the law?

Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you can on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

CAN POLICE USE A NARCOTICS DOG TO SNIFF OUTSIDE YOUR HOME IN ILLINOIS?

If you’re stopped while driving a car, the police can use a dog to sniff for drugs around your car provided the search does not unduly prolong the traffic stop. But can the police use a dog to sniff around your house?

The answer is generally no. A dog sniffing outside your home is an intrusion within the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. The area immediately surrounding and associated with your home is called “the curtilage.” The exact dimensions of the curtilage depend on the facts of each situation, but if something is inside the curtilage, it falls within Fourth Amendment protections. Therefore, the police must obtain a warrant before bringing a dog to sniff immediately outside your house.

In State of Florida v Jardine, police used a drug-sniffing dog on a homeowner’s porch to uncover marijuana plants. The U.S. Supreme Court held the search illegal because it came uninvited within the curtilage of the home.

Following the Jardine rule, an Illinois Appellate Court refused to uphold a search where police had entered an apartment building through a common locked door that had been left partially ajar. The police used a dog to sniff for drugs outside the defendant’s apartment. (The state acknowledged the search was illegal after Jardine, but believed a doctrine known as the good faith exception applied because the officer relied in good faith on the law prior to Jardine. The Illinois court disagreed. See People v Brown.)

In another Illinois decision, the court struck down the use of a narcotics dog to sweep the halls of an apartment building in the middle of the night. (See People v Burns.) The court noted that that the police were not simply walking down the sidewalk when the dog happened to smell the drugs. Furthermore, there is no implicit invitation for visitors to come to defendant’s front door at that time, and thus police could not legally approach her door without a warrant.

If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can evaluate your case for your best possible defense. If the police search was illegal, an attorney can bring a motion asking the judge to suppress the results of the search. Even if the police followed procedures correctly and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a better plea agreement then you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Monday, May 4, 2015

THE LAW OF PUBLIC INDECENCY IN ILLINOIS

You were walking in the forest preserve, when that coffee you drank ran right through you. As it turns out, the preserve is a cruising area, which you may or may not have known. You start to unzip, thinking you are unobserved, when an undercover officer spots you.

Now you are charged with public indecency. What can you do?

In Illinois, the crime of public indecency (720 ILCS 5/11-30) applies to persons over the age of 17 who perform in a public place a sexual act or a lewd exposure of a body part with intent to arouse. A public place is defined as anywhere that someone would reasonably expect to be observed.

Public indecency is a Class A Misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail or a $2,500 fine. Repeated exposures or exposure within 500 feet of a school when children are present can upgrade the charge of a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison.

Public urination is not considered public indecency under state law. However, some municipalities such as Chicago have specific ordinances concerning such conduct.

If you are charged with public indecency, do not try to explain yourself to the police. What you think is a reasonable explanation may give the prosecutor the evidence needed to convict you. Contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. As with most crimes, the prosecution must prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Can the police really prove your intent was sexual? Were you really in a public place?

Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Friday, April 24, 2015

CAN RUNNING FROM POLICE BE GROUNDS FOR ARREST IN ILLINOIS?

You like to walk at night. A police officer thought your presence late at night was suspicious so he stopped you. You didn’t want him to find the concealed weapon or the cocaine in your pocket, so you ran. Now you are charged with possession of a controlled substance as well as obstructing justice.

Can they do that? What can you do?

Whether your flight gives police grounds for arrest may depend on if you fled an arrest or a lawful investigatory stop rather than an unlawful investigatory stop. The Fourth Amendment protects you from illegal searches and seizures. You are not required to answer police questions. If the officer does not have a lawful reason to stop you at the beginning, your flight alone cannot justify an arrest.

However, if the officer had a lawful reason to stop you or the officer was arresting you. your flight may then raise grounds for suspicion and justify a later arrest. The evidence uncovered after your arrest may be admitted even if the officer’s original basis for arresting you was not legal.

For example, an officer stops you because you are in the park at night looking nervous. Nervousness by itself is not lawful grounds for a stop. The police must first have a reasonable, articulable suspicion of wrongdoing at the time he stops you. If the officer merely wanted to frisk you because you seemed nervous, your flight does not justify a later arrest.

Now let’s say the officer wants to stop you because he sees you carrying items that were just reported stolen or he had a tip that someone matching your description just fled the scene of a crime. The officer now has a legal reason to stop you, and your flight gives him or her grounds for arrest.

But let’s say the officer starts arresting you without a reason other than that you look nervous. You run. The arrest is now justified by your flight. Even though the original arrest was illegal, your flight can be used against you. Instead of being able to suppress the original unlawful arrest, you must now deal with an arrest lawfully based on your flight.

If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. If your flight was the basis of an unlawful arrest, an attorney can petition the court to suppress the arrest along with any resulting evidence.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

Source: People v Shipp.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Friday, April 10, 2015

CHANGE OF HEART: A PUBLIC'S DEFENDER'S JOURNEY TO FORGIVENESS

“Are you a real lawyer or are you a public defender?”

This is a question that I hear repeatedly at court as a private defense attorney, and it comes loaded with implications. Anybody who is a veteran of criminal law practice knows that public defenders are real lawyers, and that private attorneys often scurry to seek out their advice.

Jeanne Bishop is one of the very best public defenders in Cook County. She recently published Change of Heart, a personal memoir based on her searing experiences within the criminal justice system. I generally advise young attorneys to turn off the TV, drop the smartphone, and read books. Especially books about topics other than the law. For once, here is a story of the legal system that has volumes to say about justice and personal courage.

As a young student, Jeanne volunteered years ago to help fight egregious human rights violations against the people of Northern Ireland. At the time, she was a young attorney with an exceptional background, boundless possibilities, and a stable family life. Then Jeanne’s sister Nancy and her husband were murdered in their home, along with Nancy’s unborn child. Since the murder had happened in a wealthy town and nothing of value seemed to be missing, a frantic investigation was launched. The FBI intervened, outlandishly suggesting that the murders might be linked to Jeanne’s civil rights work in Ireland.

Unbelievably, Jeanne was investigated by the FBI. Allegations that she was obstructing investigators aired recklessly in the media as her depression over Nancy’s murder deepened. While this investigation is briefly noted in the book, Jeanne shows little interest in recounting her own mistreatment at the hands of media and law enforcement. Then the case broke wide open. A young informant led police to David Biro, a troubled local high school student.

The murder weapon was found in Biro’s room, along with scribblings that implied his guilt for the murders. Eventually, Biro was sentenced to life in prison as a juvenile defender. Meanwhile, Jeanne had left a lucrative job with a corporate firm to work as a public defender. As a long-time advocate against the death penalty, she began questioning the propriety of life sentences for young offenders. After intense soul-searching, she decided she had to meet her sister’s killer. What follows may surprise many readers.

A lesser writer might have crafted a profoundly different book out of these horrendous experiences. The brutal elements of the story are not minimized, but sensationalism and self-pity are absent from these pages.

This is a story of justice, the abuse of justice, and the power of forgiveness. Many will disagree with some of Jeanne Bishop’s conclusions, and some will suggest that her religious faith has blinded her. In truth, here is a work of profound vision. The words are etched from pain, but they recount an inspiring act of mercy. This is an unforgettable story.

Jeanne Bishop’s book, Change of Heart, is published by WJK books. Visit www.wjkbooks.com.

If you have questions about Illinois criminal law, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Monday, March 16, 2015

THE INSANITY DEFENSE IN ILLINOIS

Sometimes a defendant commits a crime without being truly responsible for his or her actions. Illinois recognizes this concept as the insanity defense. There are, however, many misconceptions about how it works.

Legal insanity does not mean just any type of mental illness or inexplicable behavior. A serial killer’s actions sound insane, but the killer can still appreciate what they are doing is wrong and have the capacity, if not the desire, to conform their conduct to the law.

Legal insanity does not mean diminished capacity, a defense no longer used in Illinois. The fact you committed the crime when you were too drunk to think straight will not excuse your conduct.

Illinois law does recognize the verdict of guilty but mentally ill, where your judgment was impaired by mental illness, but you still knew what you did was wrong. This verdict, however, does not relieve you from punishment.

Under the Illinois Insanity statute, a person is not criminally responsible for their acts if at the time, as a result of mental disease or mental defect, he or she lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his or her conduct. (See Insanity.)

Insanity does not mean a person is innocent. In fact, the state must prove you guilty of all elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Then you must prove your legal insanity by clear and convincing evidence.

Because the defendant must prove insanity, it is critical to present the most compelling evidence possible. A criminal law attorney who is experienced in this defense knows that a credible doctor’s testimony can make or break a case. Your acquaintances may testify about how they saw you immediately before or after the crime, but their testimony is no substitute for an expert’s.

The court will pronounce you guilty of the offense before finding you “not guilty by reason of insanity.” The benefit of such a verdict is that you will likely avoid prison. You can instead be committed to a mental hospital until you are considered well enough to be released.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.).

Thursday, February 19, 2015

ILLINOIS GETS NEW EAVESDROPPING LAW

After the former law was struck down as unconstitutionally broad, Illinois has enacted a new eavesdropping statute.

Under the new law, it is illegal to use an eavesdropping device to record private conversations unless all parties consent. (See Illinois Eavesdropping Statute.) A private conversation is defined as oral communication between two or more parties, whether in person or through wire or other means, and where one or more of the parties intended the communication to be private under circumstances reasonably justifying that expectation.

A person commits the crime of eavesdropping when he or she knowingly or intentionally uses an eavesdropping device to surreptitiously overhear, transmit or record a conversation to which he or she is not a party unless all parties to the private communication consent. It is also illegal to disclose any information obtained through that eavesdropping.

Police are not permitted to eavesdrop without a court order unless they were unaware that the communication was privileged.

Eavesdropping as a first offense is a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison. A second offense is a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years. Eavesdropping on law enforcement or the state’s attorney while in the performance of their duties is a Class 3 felony for a first offense, and a Class 2 for subsequent offenses.

If you are charged under the new law or for another criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case to determine your best possible options. As with most crimes, the state must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Did you intentionally eavesdrop? Did the complaining witness really have a justified expectation of privacy?

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

ILLINOIS ENACTS NEW LAW TO PREVENT "REVENGE PORN"

Before the modern digital era, jilted lovers would exact revenge on their unhappy exes by mailing those compromising photos. Once the photos or negatives were destroyed, however, the images were gone. End of problem.

But in these times, things are not so simple. Photos taken by cellphone during an unguarded moment may be impossible to eradicate. And transmitting a damaging image has never been so simple.

As a result, Illinois has enacted a law to ban the dissemination of private sexual images without the subject’s consent. Starting June 1, 2015, it is a Class 4 felony punishable by 1 to 3 years to intentionally disseminate an image of another who 1) is at least 18, 2) engaged in a sexual act or where intimate parts are exposed and 3) is identifiable from the image or information with the image.

If you are charged with this offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your situation to determine your best possible defense. As with most crimes, the state has the burden of proving all the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Did you intentionally send the photos? Is the victim identifiable? Were the photos in fact sexual? Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you can on your own.

If you are charged with this offense, do not speak about your situation with police or third parties. Any efforts to explain the situation could result in giving the state’s attorney the ammunition they need to convict you.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

Source: Non-consensual dissemination of private sexual images.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

TAKING THE PLEA IN CRIMINAL COURT IN ILLINOIS

In my practice, making a plea agreement is a last resort, not a first option.

When a client comes to me, I first review all the evidence against him or her for any possible defense. Was the arrest based on probable cause? Was the search proper? Can the state prove all the elements of the crime?

But sometimes, the state’s case is very strong, and the client is best served by making a plea agreement.

Depending on the jurisdiction or the courtroom, I will negotiate a plea with either the state’s attorney or village prosecutor. In some cases, the judge will hold something called a 402 conference. In a 402 conference, the prosecutor and defense attorney meet in the judge’s chambers to discuss the case. At that time, I will present any evidence in your favor as to why you deserve a more lenient sentence. The judge will then make a recommendation regarding the charges and sentencing.

If the prosecutor’s offer or the judge’s recommendation is agreeable, you may accept the plea. This means you are giving up your rights to confront witnesses, go to trial or present evidence in your defense.

Or you can reject the offer and take your chances at trial.

In negotiating a plea, it helps to have an attorney who is respected at the courthouse and knows the players involved. The prosecutor does not have an incentive to make a good offer to an attorney who never takes cases to trial. An attorney who is familiar with the prosecutor and judges also has a better understanding of what to say on your behalf—or what will backfire.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Monday, December 15, 2014

STAYING PAST YOUR WELCOME: HOW RETAIL THEFT BECOMES BURGLARY IN ILLINOIS

In Illinois, you can be charged with burglary if you 1) enter or remain in a building without authority 2) with intent to commit a felony or theft.

Under recent Illinois case law, you can lose the authority to enter or remain in a building even when that building is open to the public during business hours. Once you form the intent to shoplift or steal, your authority to be there disappears. The court held that a defendant who develops an intent to steal after his entry into a public building may be found guilty of burglary by unlawfully remaining.

In People v Bradford, the court upheld the conviction of a defendant who entered a Wal-mart and stole several items. The defendant was charged with burglary rather than retail theft. Unlike shoplifting, burglary requires the state to prove that the defendant remained without authority. The defendant argued that the state failed to prove he lacked authority to remain inside the Wal-mart, which was open for business. The court, however, held that once he formed the intent to steal, he lost the authority to remain.

If you are charged with burglary or another criminal matter, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can review your case for the best possible defense. Even if the evidence is overwhelmingly against you, an experienced attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a better plea agreement than you can on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

See also: 720 ILCS 5/19-1 Burglary.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Friday, November 14, 2014

NEW ILLINOIS LAW PENALIZES KRATOM USE BY MINORS

As of January 1, 2015, children under age 18 may not sell or possess any product containing the herbal drug Kratom.

Kratom is derived from the Mitragyna speciosa, a tree native to Thailand. Its effects are similar to morphine or opium.

The new law makes it a Class B Misdemeanor, punishable by 180 days in jail, for a minor to knowingly purchase or possess the substance. Other persons may not knowingly sell or distribute Kratom to a minor or buy the drug on their behalf. Minors may also be penalized for using fake identification to obtain the drug.

If you are charged under the new law, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not speak with the police or other third parties about your offense. Your attempts to talk your way out of the situation may end up digging you in deeper and limiting any defense you might otherwise have.

An experienced attorney can review your case for your best options. Perhaps you did not knowingly possess the drug. Or perhaps the police acted improperly when they arrested you. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Monday, October 27, 2014

THE POLICE ARE AT MY DOOR: KNOCK AND TALK DOCTRINE IN ILLINOIS

When you answered the doorbell, you were surprised to see the police. The officer said he had a few questions and wanted to know if he could come in. The officer did not have a search warrant. Do you have a right to refuse?

Generally, the answer is yes. While police have the same right to “knock and talk” as a private citizen, what happens after that can be somewhat different. “Knock and talk,” allows police to investigate or ask for consent to search your home. Police cannot use “knock and talk” to raid your home, show force or make demands upon you. Once you tell police you do not wish to talk or let them in, the encounter should end.

When refusing entry to your home, you should say as little as possible. Do not try to argue about your rights. Be polite and the to the point.

If the encounter does not end and police discover evidence of a crime, you should consult an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the evidence based on the illegal search.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

See People v Kofron.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Monday, September 29, 2014

ILLINOIS TOUGHENS LAW ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE OFFENDERS

Starting January 1, 2015, Illinois law gives the Court new tools to discourage offenders from violating an order of protection.

Known as “Diane’s Law,” the new law enables the court to keep tabs on an offender’s whereabouts through electronic or GPS surveillance as a condition of bail. The court may also order the defendant to obtain a risk assessment and may require the offender to pay the cost of both the surveillance and the assessment.

The law is named for Diane Kephart who was murdered by an ex-boyfriend three days after renewing an order of protection.

The law protects intimate partners defined as a spouse or current or former partner in cohabitation or in a dating relationship. The law applies to defendants beyond those who have violated an order of protection including those charged with attempted first degree murder as well as both regular or aggravated forms of domestic battery, kidnapping, unlawful restraint, and stalking.

The fact you stalked or harassed someone from your computer is no defense. The law also covers cyberstalking and harassment through telephone or electronic means.

If someone is seeking an order of protection against you or you have been charged with one of the above crimes, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not speak to the police or third parties about your situation. What sounds like a reasonable explanation to you might give the prosecution the evidence they need to convict you.

An experienced attorney can review your case to determine your best possible defense. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected at the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

See: 725 ILCS 5/110-5(f).

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Monday, September 15, 2014

CAN POLICE SEARCH YOUR GARBAGE WITHOUT A WARRANT?

Whether police need a search warrant for something like a garbage can generally depends on whether you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the place or thing being searched.

When it comes to garbage, your expectation of privacy can depend on where the trash is located. If your garbage is awaiting pick up in the alley, police will likely have a right to investigate. If your garbage was still within “the curtilage” of your home, however, police may first need a warrant.

Generally, police cannot enter a private residence unless they have emergency or exigent circumstances, consent or a warrant. The curtilage of your home is included in this Fourth Amendment protection. The curtilage is defined as the land immediately surrounding and associated with your home. The scope of the curtilage is generally determined by whether you reasonably expect the area to be treated like your home. For example, the area within your fenced-in yard would be a curtilage. The case law in this area is complex and depends a great deal on the specific facts of each situation.

Therefore, if your garbage was still in your garage or next to your back door, the police may require a warrant before they can poke through it. (However, if the police are otherwise lawfully within the curtilage of your home and happen to see something in plain view, they can investigate the object.)

This protection in garbage applies even if you are a guest in someone’s home. Therefore, if you are staying at a friend’s and you threw contraband in their garbage, you have a privacy expectation until about the point the garbage is set outside for pick up.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

See People v Kofron.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Monday, August 25, 2014

"I CLICKED ON THE WRONG SITE!": THE ILLINOIS LAW ON CHILD CYBER-PORNOGRAPHY

You were browsing some adult content sites on your computer when you came across some links to other photos. You clicked on the links and to your horror, they were photos of children in suggestive poses. Somehow, the police found out and now you are charged with child pornography.

What can happen to you? What can you do?

The Illinois Child Pornography law prohibits the obscene use of children ranging from taking the photos to soliciting the models. But what if you came across the photos accidentally online?

Illinois law specifies that it is illegal to knowingly possess any “film, videotape, photograph or other similar reproduction or depiction by computer of any child” whom you reasonably should know was under age 18. (This offense also includes depictions of severely intellectually disabled adults.) Each separate photo or computer depiction can be charged as a separate offense.

You may have a defense if you reasonably believed the child in the image was over age 18 after you made diligent inquiry. Your possession of the images must also be voluntary. However, possession is considered voluntary if you had the image long enough that you could have terminated your possession.

If the computer image you possessed was a photo, you can be charged with a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years in prison. If the child was under age 13, the offense is upgraded to a Class 2 felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years. The offense is also a Class 2 felony if the images were a film or video.

Besides prison and fines, the Court may order you to register as a sex offender, which can bar you from many normal activities such as choosing where you live, who you visit or where you work.

If you are charged with child pornography, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not make any statements to a third party or the police. An attorney can review your options and help you determine the best possible defense.

If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

See: Illinois Child Pornography Law.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Monday, August 11, 2014

SECOND CHANCE PROBATION IN ILLINOIS

You’ve never done anything wrong before, but when you did, the crime was a big one. Maybe the cost of the designer jeans you shoplifted upgraded you into felony territory. Or you had just a little too much pot or narcotics on your person to qualify for a misdemeanor.

Under certain circumstances, second chance probation might allow you to avoid the stigma of a criminal record following you for the rest of your life.

As of January 1, 2014, Illinois allows second chance probation to be offered for certain felony offenses. To qualify, you cannot have a past felony conviction or a criminal record involving a violent crime which includes domestic battery, possessing a firearm, sex offenses, stalking or DUI. If your current felony involves violence, a sex offense or DUI, you also would not be eligible. However, for certain Class 3 and Class 4 felonies involving drugs, retail theft or criminal damage to property, there may be light at the end of the tunnel.

Like coupons, you cannot combine these types of leniency programs. If you’ve had second chance probation or a similar program, you may not be eligible again.

Second chance probation is not given automatically. You should still consider retaining an attorney to help you qualify. An attorney can help present your situation in the best possible light to demonstrate that you deserve that second chance.

If you get second chance probation, the judge must sentence you to at least two years of probation. During that time, you cannot violate any criminal statutes or possess a firearm or dangerous weapon. You may also have to repay the victim, pay fines and court costs, perform at least 30 hours of community service, get a job, graduate from high school and submit to drug testing.

If you do complete the program, the case against you will be dismissed, which will enable you to avoid that felony conviction on your record.

If you have questions about this or other related Illinois criminal or traffic charges, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

See Illinois Second Chance Probation Statute.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE NOT HIRED AN ATTORNEY FOR YOUR FIRST CRIMINAL OR DUI COURT DATE IN ILLINOIS

You were recently charged with a crime, and your first court date is coming up fast. You intended to hire an attorney, but haven’t been able to do so yet—either because of time or money or you just haven’t picked which one.

How should you handle your first court date?

Many people come to court at some point without an attorney. In most cases, the judge will require you to come back with someone. Playing your own lawyer may make exciting TV drama, but in most cases, the judge will not allow it. If you are truly indigent, you may be entitled to the public defender. Otherwise, you must hire your own private counsel.

If you don’t have an attorney on your first court date, you must still appear. Some courtrooms will allow a defendant to check in with the court clerk to have your case called sooner. Most courtrooms, however, do not allow this practice and require you to wait until your turn on the docket. By Supreme Court rule, defendants with private attorneys are called first.

Once your case is called, answer “here” and step up before the bench. Explain to the judge that you will be hiring your own attorney and politely request a continuance. The judge should give you a new court date. It is best if you have an attorney by this second court date or you may try the judge’s patience.

When attending court, be sure to appear on time even though you may have to wait. You should dress in clean, pressed, conservative clothing.

If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)