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.)

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