Sunday, November 28, 2021

ONLINE CHALLENGE CAN LEAD TO CRIMINAL CHARGES AND SCHOOL EXPULSION

Social media presents kids with ever varied opportunities for trouble. As if online sexting and bullying weren’t bad enough, now it’s “devious licks,” a challenge where students post videos of themselves vandalizing or stealing school property.

If your child has taken the challenge, he or she could face both criminal charges and school discipline. Unfortunately, by posting video of themselves in the act, your child may have provided the evidence necessary for a conviction and possible school expulsion.

But all is not lost.

If your child is charged with a crime, an experienced criminal law attorney can review his or her case for its best possible defense. Is the identity of your child clear in the video? Can the state prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Can the state prove your child acted knowingly or with the required intent? Even if the evidence against your child is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a favorable plea agreement.

If your child is facing expulsion, it is essential that you request a hearing in order to preserve your child’s rights. An experienced school law attorney can present evidence at the hearing or can again try to negotiate a more favorable result. Be aware that a suspension can be a prelude to expulsion, so you may need to act quickly if the school decides to move from one to the other.

Although the trend went viral on Tiktok, the site quickly removed related content from its platform. However, posters have simply switched to alternative tags such as #despicablelicks, dastardly licks or nefarious licks.

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

References: CNN: The'devious licks'TikTok challenge has students stealing toilets and vandalizing bathrooms, and USA Today: Devious licks' challenge on TikTok leads to criminal charges against students across US.

(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, October 29, 2021

WHAT IS A CHOKING OFFENSE UNDER ILLINOIS LAW?

You met with a possible “match” on one of the many dating apps. The meeting very quickly led to hookup sex. You thought you were both enjoying yourselves, and that the other party had asked you to choke them. But now the police have arrested you.

What are the possible charges? What can you do?

Under Illinois law, choking or strangling someone is defined as intentionally impeding the normal breathing or circulation of the victim’s blood by applying pressure on their throat or neck or by blocking their nose or mouth.

The charges depend on whether the other person is or is not a household/family member. In either case, choking is an aggravated offense. Mind you that Illinois courts have found some dating relationships to qualify for purposes of domestic battery law. (See Is it Really a Relationship Under Illinois Domestic Battery Law?)

For your casual, one-time hook-up, you could be charged with Aggravated Battery (720 ILCS 5/12-3.2) a Class 3 felony. Your charge can be upgraded to a Class 1 felony if you used a dangerous instrument, had a prior conviction or caused the victim great bodily harm, permanent damage or disfigurement.

For a more serious dating relationship, even one that has ended, you can be charged with Aggravated Domestic Battery, (720 ILCS 5/12-3.3), a Class 2 felony that carries mandatory prison time.

As with most crimes, the state must prove you guilty of all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Did the victim tell you to choke them or otherwise consent? Did the victim choke you? Is there any corroborating physical evidence such as photographs or medical reports? If you are charged with aggravated domestic battery, can the state prove the victim was a household or family member?

This is a very controversial area, and opinions as to the validity of consent are likely to vary widely from judge to judge. Therefore, it is important to retain an attorney who is familiar with the preferences of the judges in your particular courthouse in order to determine 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.)

Friday, October 15, 2021

DID YOU CONSENT TO A POLICE SEARCH?

An officer generally must have a warrant in order to search you or your property unless an exception to the warrant requirement exists. One exception is that you consented. But did you really? While this may seem like a straightforward yes or no question, the facts can be murky, and different judges may interpret the same facts very differently.

To prove consent, the state must show you did so freely and without coercion. Consent cannot be extracted by implied threat or covert force. If your consent was nonverbal, the court will look at whether you intended to consent or were merely acquiescing to authority.

For example, in People v. Banta, the officer asked the defendant if he could search his person. The officer testified that the defendant “did not tell me no.” Video of the incident did not have sound so that the court had to infer whether defendant gave consent through his body language. The court held that even if defendant had not verbally refused, his lack of protest was insufficient to establish voluntary consent, and that the state had failed to meet its burden of proof.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Did you agree to the search? Was your consent voluntary? If not, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress any evidence resulting from an 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.

(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, September 24, 2021

WHAT IS THE OFFENSE OF CHILD ENDANGERMENT IN ILLINOIS?

In Illinois, endangering the life or health of a child is a Class A misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class 3 felony for subsequent offenses. The offense includes knowingly allowing or causing the endangerment or permitting the child to be placed in an endangering situation. (See 720 ILCS 5/12C-5.)

Under the law, if you leave a child age 6 or younger, unaccompanied by someone at least age 14 and out of your sight, the child may be considered unattended. Illinois courts have convicted parents for leaving a baby in a car for close to an hour and leaving a loaded gun within reach of a child. p>If you are convicted of child endangerment, a judge may defer judgment of your guilt by placing you on probation and requiring you to cooperate with the Department of Child and Family Services. If you successfully complete these terms, the case against you may be dismissed. (See 720 ILCS 5/12C-15).

If you have been charged with endangering a child or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. As with most criminal offenses, the state must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Can the state prove that you were the person who endangered the child or that you did it knowingly? 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, September 10, 2021

CAN I PLEAD ENTRAPMENT AS A DEFENSE?

A friend of a friend asked you to help them get some narcotics. You don’t do drugs yourself, but you don’t have a problem with other people using them. At first, you said you couldn’t help, but the person kept badgering you until finally you gave in. Turns out the person was a police officer and you are now charged with dealing.

Is this entrapment?

Quite possibly. To plead entrapment in your defense, you must present at least slight evidence that (1) the State induced you to commit the crime, and (2) you were not otherwise predisposed to do so. Once the trial court accepts your slight evidence, the State must then prove beyond a reasonable doubt why the entrapment defense does not apply. Your predisposition can be shown by proof that you were ready and willing to commit the crime without persuasion and before your initial exposure to government agents.

For example, in People v. Lewis, the defendant was accused of various sex offenses stemming from an online relationship with a child. The defendant, however, presented evidence that he had no predisposition to a sexual interest in children and that an officer was the first person to bring up the possibility of sex with minors and persisted in pursuing that option even after defendant showed he was not interested.

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. Were you pushed into the crime? Even if you weren’t, 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, August 24, 2021

WHAT IS SELF DEFENSE IN ILLINOIS?

Under Illinois law, you act in self defense if: (1) there is a threat of unlawful force against you; (2) you are not the aggressor; (3) the danger of harm was imminent; (4) your use of force was necessary; (5) you actually and subjectively believed there was a danger that required you to use that force; and (6) your belief was objectively reasonable. See 720 ILCS 5/7-1. Self defense can include defense of another.

To claim self defense, you cannot be the initial aggressor. Therefore, you cannot start a fight and then cry self defense because you were on the losing end. However, throwing the first punch does not necessarily make you the aggressor if the other party initially provoked the use of force.

For example, People v. Cruz involved a dispute that started on a Chicago Transit Authority bus. The defendant got on the bus without at first paying his fare and was yelling at the driver. The driver and another passenger named Perkins discussed the defendant’s difficult behavior. After some back and forth, Perkins grabbed defendant and threw the first punch. Defendant stabbed Perkins in the chest. Although Perkins threw the initial punch, defendant could not claim self defense because he had brandished a knife. The court held that brandishing a weapon is one way for a defendant to become the initial aggressor.

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. Do your actions qualify for self defense or another legal defense such as necessity? An attorney who is familiar with your particular judge may be able to present the facts of your case in their most persuasive 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.)

Saturday, August 7, 2021

WHAT IS AGGRAVATED CRIMINAL SEXUAL ABUSE BASED ON “POSITION OF TRUST?”

Under one definition (720 ILCS 5/11-1.60(f)), you commit aggravated criminal sexual abuse if 1) you have sexual conduct with a victim who is aged 13 to 17, 2) you are at least age 17, and 3) you hold a position of trust, authority, or supervision in relation to the victim.

In Illinois, “trust,” means the victim has confidence in your integrity, ability, character, and truth. For example, in People v. Miki, the defendant was a soccer coach, and the victim had been on his team starting in sixth grade. The criminal conduct occurred about a month after she had left the team when she was 17. In finding defendant held a position of trust, the court reasoned that the victim’s family allowed her to ride alone with him to games. Further, the defendant, the victim and their families attended the same church, where the victim’s father was a pastor. The victim at times sat with defendant during services. Therefore, the evidence was sufficient to uphold defendant’s conviction based on a position of trust.

If you have been charged with criminal sexual abuse or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Whether you occupy a “position of trust” can be a highly fact specific question, the answer to which may depend on your particular judge. An attorney who is familiar with the courthouse can best attempt to present the facts of your case in their most favorable light in the hopes of winning a not guilty verdict. Even if the evidence is overwhelming, the attorney 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, July 23, 2021

CAN YOU BE CHARGED WITH MULTIPLE CRIMES BASED ON ONE ACT?

The answer is yes, provided each offense contains at least one element that differs from your other offense(s).

Under the one-act, one-crime rule, you may not be convicted of multiple offenses based on precisely the same single physical act. To determine if a one-act, one-crime violation has occurred, the court looks at 1) whether your conduct consisted of a single physical act or separate acts, and 2) whether any single act formed the basis for separate but lesser-included offenses.

In People v. McCloud, the defendant abducted and sexually assaulted a woman off the street. The court found that within that one event, defendant had performed multiple acts. First, defendant forced the victim into an abandoned house, which supported a conviction for unlawful restraint. Then, Defendant grabbed the victim’s breast, which supported a conviction for criminal sexual abuse. Finally, the victim nearly escaped several times only to be recaptured and touched or penetrated by defendant. This touching in an insulting nature supported a separate conviction for battery.

However, in People v. Reveles-Cordova, the court reversed the defendant’s conviction for criminal sexual assault because all the elements of that offense were contained within the offense of home invasion. Therefore, the defendant could not be convicted of both.

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. Can your act be broken into multiple crimes or did the state “overcharge” 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.)

Friday, July 2, 2021

WHEN CAN I BE CONVICTED OF A LESSER INCLUDED OFFENSE?

Police arrested you on charges that were pretty stiff, but you feel confident that the state can’t prove the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. That does not mean, however, that you are out of the woods. The court can convict you of a lesser-included offense even if you were not originally charged with that offense.

Under Illinois law, you may be convicted of a lesser-included offense if it is within the offense for which you were charged and the evidence at trial supports conviction on the lesser offense and acquittal on the greater offense.

For example, in People. v. VanHoose, the defendant was arrested for threatening a public official. The trial court found the evidence insufficient to convict on that charge but instead convicted defendant for the lesser-included offense of assault. (In this case, the appellate court disagreed that there was sufficient evidence to convict defendant of assault and reversed the trial court.)

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. As with most criminal charges, the state must prove all the elements of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Can the state prove the lesser-included offense? 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.)

Sunday, June 6, 2021

WHAT IS LEWD UNDER ILLINOIS CHILD PORNOGRAPHY LAW?

As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once famously said about obscenity: “I know it when I see it.” If you are charged with child pornography, your case may likewise depend on how your particular judge sees it.

Under 720 ILCS 5/11-20.1, the offense of child pornography includes knowingly possessing an image of a child that you should have reasonably known was under age 18 where the child is depicted in any pose or setting while lewdly exhibiting the child’s unclothed (or transparently clothed) genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or fully or partially developed breast (if female).

In People v. Barger, the defendant was convicted based on one photo of a nude 8- to 10-year old girl swinging on a tether ball on the beach. The appellate court applied a six-factor test to decide if the image was lewd: (1) Was the image’s focal point was on the child’s genitals? (2) Was the setting sexually suggestive, (3) Was the child depicted in an unnatural pose or in inappropriate attire considering the child’s age? (4) Was the child fully or partially clothed or nude? (5) Did the image suggest sexual coyness or a willingness to engage in sexual activity? and (6) Was the image intended to elicit a sexual response in the viewer? Not all six factors must be present to find that an image is lewd.

The appellate court found that only one of the four factors was present—the child was nude. Otherwise, the photo’s focal point was not the child’s genitals; there was nothing sexually suggestive about the photo’s setting which was the beach; the child’s pose was not unnatural; nothing suggested sexual coyness and the photo was not taken in a way to elicit a sexual response. Therefore, the defendant’s conviction was overturned.

If you have been charged with child pornography or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Should you have known the child was under age 18? Is the image truly lewd? An attorney who is familiar with your particular judge can best argue the six factors in the light most favorable to you in hopes of winning your acquittal.

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 17, 2021

CHALLENGING A PHOTO IDENTIFICATION OR LINE UP IN ILLINOIS

After a witness at a crime scene picked you out of a group of photos, police asked you to participate in a line up. You stood alongside several other subjects, but something didn’t seem quite right. For one thing, you were the only person wearing a t-shirt and jeans.

Can you challenge the line up?

Under Illinois law, you have a due process right to be free from identification procedures that are unnecessarily suggestive and are conducive to an irreparable mistaken identification. If the line up was unduly suggestive, your attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the fact that a witness selected you.

To do so, you must show that you were denied due process because of the way the line-up was performed. Once you meet that burden, the state must clearly and convincingly show that the witness picked you solely based on his or her memory of events at the time of the crime.

A court will consider whether the procedure was unduly suggestive, and the identification not independently reliable. To determine reliability, the court considers: 1) the witness’s opportunity to view you during the offense, (2) the witness’s degree of attention at the time of the offense, (3) the accuracy of any prior description by the witness, (4) the witness’s level of certainty at the identification, and (5) the length of time between the crime and the identification.

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. Did police follow correct procedure in obtaining any evidence against you? Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Even if the police acted lawfully 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.

Reference: People v. Bahena.

(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.)

Sunday, May 2, 2021

WHAT IS BATTERY IN ILLINOIS?

In Illinois, you commit battery if you knowingly without legal justification by any means (1) cause bodily harm or (2) make physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an individual. (See 720 ILCS 5/12-3).

Under Illinois law, “knowingly” means you were consciously aware that your conduct was practically certain to cause a particular result. In People v. Jackson, 2017 IL App (1st) 142879, the defendant did not act knowingly because he did not understand what was happening to him and appeared to be suffering from a psychological issue. Being drugged or intoxicated, however, is not a defense, unless your intoxication was involuntary, and you were deprived of the substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of your conduct.

If you had legal justification, you may wish to raise it as a defense. Illinois courts have upheld legal justification where a defendant was attempting to break up a fight, but not where the defendant was attempting a citizen’s arrest on a municipal ordinance violation.

The definition of “bodily harm” or “insulting physical contact” can be rarther vague. It seems pretty clear that stabbing or punching someone would cause bodily harm. Short of that, an offensive contact is something that might provoke a breach of the peace. Illinois courts have cited spitting or pushing. In People v. Williams, the court held that contact was still provoking or insulting even when the victim is unconscious.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Can the state prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt? An attorney can probe for weaknesses in the state’s case and 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.)

Sunday, April 25, 2021

WERE YOU CAPABLE OF WAIVING YOUR MIRANDA RIGHTS?

When you are arrested, an officer must read your Miranda rights. If you keep talking, you may be giving up those rights.

Once you have clearly invoked your right to an attorney, any police interrogation must stop unless you initiate communication. If instead police restart the conversation, your statements will be presumed involuntary and will not be admissible at trial. To determine admissibility, the court looks at 1) whether you, rather than police, started the conversation in a manner demonstrating a willingness to discuss the investigation, and 2) if so, whether you knowingly and voluntarily waived your Miranda rights.

To knowingly waive your rights, the waiver must reflect an intentional relinquishment or abandonment of a known right or privilege. That means you were fully aware of both the nature of the right you gave up and the consequences of your decision to abandon it. A waiver is not voluntary if you suffered from an intellectual disability or if police continued questioning you after you requested an attorney.

In People v. Kadow, the defendant was intellectually disabled with an IQ in the 50s, and the officer, had threatened him with jail if he did not answer questions. The court reflected that the intellectually disabled are considered more susceptible to police coercion than people of normal intellect. Thus, the defendant could not knowingly and voluntarily waive his rights.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. If police coerced you into talking or you were otherwise incapable of waiving your rights, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress any incriminating statements that you involuntarily made.

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 9, 2021

HOW IS A COMMUTATION DIFFERENT FROM A PARDON?

You have a loved one in prison. He hung out with some people who were not his friends and got involved in a robbery. You want to shorten what seems like an unfair sentence. Are you looking for a commutation or a pardon?

It depends on whether your loved one has completed his or her sentence. If you want to get someone out of prison, a commutation could shorten their sentence. If your loved one has completed their sentence and cannot seal or expunge their record, they can petition for a pardon.

A commutation can be granted for health reasons or if it appears your loved one has learned from their mistakes and deserves a second chance. Note that a commutation is not an appeal. Rather than asserting your loved one is innocent or that mistakes were made at trial, a petition for commutation typically involves accepting responsibility for the underlying offense and showing how he or she has changed.

In contrast, a pardon enables the governor to nullify a conviction, one for which a sentence (in or out of prison) has already been satisfied. A pardon typically allows a defendant to expunge their criminal record, though the final order to do so will be at the discretion of a judge in the county where the case originated.

Either petition for commutation or pardon generally includes character references along with other exhibits, which are then sent to the Illinois Board of Prison Review. The Board makes a recommendation to the governor who then makes the final decision. Your loved one may ask for a public hearing before the Board. For a commutation, your loved one will not be allowed to appear in person at the hearing, but you can still testify on their behalf.

If you have questions about petitioning for a pardon or commutation, 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 23, 2021

CAN MY FLIGHT BE USED AS EVIDENCE OF GUILT?

The answer is yes. If you fled from a crime, your flight can be one of the circumstances considered to establish your guilt.

Whether an inference of guilt may be drawn from your flight depends on if you knew (1) that an offense had been committed, and (2) that you may be suspected. While evidence that you knew you were a suspect is essential, actual knowledge of a possible arrest is not.

In People v. Aljohani, a neighbor heard screaming and knocked on the door. The defendant answered and said the victim was in the bathroom. The neighbor asked to see the victim after which the defendant became angry and shut the door. The neighbor called police. The defendant told them everything was OK. The police left but then returned, at which point, they found the door to the garage and apartment wide open and the defendant gone. Entering the apartment, they found the defendant’s roommate had been stabbed to death. These facts indicated that defendant knew an offense had been committed, and that he would be a suspect. Thus, the defendant’s flight could be used as evidence of guilt.

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. Did you know you about the crime or that you would be a suspect? Is there a reasonable explanation for your behavior? If so, an attorney can try to present the facts of your case in their 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.)

Sunday, March 7, 2021

CAN YOU TAKE YOUR OWN CHILD TO THE PARK IF YOU ARE A CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER?

The answer depends on the charges brought against you. If you are a convicted sexual predator or child sex offender, you cannot knowingly be present in any public park or loiter in a public way within 500 feet of a public park. This is true even if you are with your own child. A first offense is a Class A misdemeanor, and further offenses are Class 4 felonies. See 720 ILCS 5/11-9.4-1.

However, an offense under 720 ILCS 5/11-9.3(a-10) allows you to be present with your own child. Under that law, a child sex offender may not knowingly be present in any public park when persons under age 18 are present and may not approach, any minor child, unless their own minor child is also present.

In People v. Legoo, the defendant, who was charged under 720 ILCS 5/11-9.4-1(b), picked up his his son from a baseball game at the park. The defendant claimed necessity in that no one else was available to do so. The court rejected this defense, noting that the defendant could have then asked police for assistance. Defendant also argued that the same exception which allows an offender under 720 ILCS 5/11-9.3 to be in a park with their own child should apply to his charges. The court disagreed, stating that the two laws applied to different offenders and different conduct.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? The court did not rule out a necessity defense under all circumstances. Did you have a compelling reason to be in the park? 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, February 22, 2021

WHAT IS THE OFFENSE OF TRAVELING TO MEET A CHILD IN ILLINOIS?

You commit the offense of traveling to meet a child (under age 17) when you travel any distance by any means, or attempt to do so, in order to engage in sexual conduct with that child after using an online service to seduce or solicit the child. (See 720 ILCS 5/11-26.)

You can be convicted for engaging in such conduct with someone you believed to be a child, even if they turned out to be an adult. In that event, you might raise a defense of entrapment. However, it is not entrapment if you were predisposed to commit the crime and police merely afforded you the opportunity to do so. Your predisposition is established by proof that you were ready and willing to commit the crime without persuasion and before your initial exposure to government agents.

Traveling to meet a child is a Class 3 felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison.

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. Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Were you attempting to lure or solicit a child? Were you predisposed to do so before police initiated contact? Even if the police acted legally 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.

Source: People v. Lewis, 2020 IL App (2d) 170900.

(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, 2021

WHAT IS THE NECESSITY DEFENSE UNDER ILLINOIS LAW?

Under Illinois law, you may be able to plead necessity as a defense if you did not cause the situation and you reasonably believed your actions were necessary to avoid a greater harm than the injury which might reasonably result from your own conduct. See 720 ILCS 5/7-13.

To prove necessity, you must show a "specific and immediate threat.” For example in People v. Gullens, the defendant took a gun which a third party had stolen in order to return it. As a result, defendant, who was serving a term of conditional discharge, was violated for being a felon in possession of a weapon. The court, however, upheld defendant’s necessity defense. Defendant had not caused the situation involving a stolen firearm and had only taken the gun in order to return it to its rightful owner since he feared it might otherwise be sold and used in a crime.

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. Did the police have probable cause to stop you? Was the search legal? Can the state prove all the elements of your offense? Do you have legal justification for your actions such as necessity or self 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 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.)

Sunday, January 31, 2021

WHAT IS CHILD ABANDONMENT IN ILLINOIS?

Under 720 ILCS 5/12C-10, you commit child abandonment when you leave a child under age 13 for 24 hours or more unsupervised by a responsible person over age 14, without regard for the child’s health or safety. The child must be someone under your custody or control.

The law provides a laundry list of factors to determine whether you left the child without regard for his or her welfare:

  1. the child’s age;
  2. the number of children left at the location;
  3. the child’s special needs including physical or mental disability or medical needs;
  4. the length of time the child was left;
  5. the condition and location of the place where the child was left;
  6. the time of day or night;
  7. weather conditions;
  8. your location;
  9. whether the child’s movement was restricted or the child was locked within a room or other structure;
  10. whether the child was given an emergency phone number and whether the child could make the call;
  11. whether food and other provisions were left for the child;
  12. whether your conduct is attributable to economic hardship or illness and you made a good faith effort to provide for the child’s health and safety;
  13. the age and physical and mental capabilities of the person who provided supervision for the child;
  14. any other factor that would endanger the health or safety of that particular child;
  15. whether the child was left under the supervision of another person.

If you are convicted of child abandonment, a judge can defer judgment of guilt by placing you on probation and requiring you to cooperate with the Department of Child and Family Services. If you successfully complete these terms, the case against you may then be dismissed. See 720 ILCS 5/12C-15.

If you have been charged with child abandonment or similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Whether you have committed child abandonment can be a very fact specific question. An attorney ho is familiar with your courthouse can best present the facts most likely to appeal to your particular judge.

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.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

DO I HAVE A RIGHT TO AN INTERPRETER IF I DON’T UNDERSTAND ENGLISH?

The answer is yes.

According to Illinois case law, fundamental due process requires that a defendant who does not fully understand English be permitted an interpreter. Otherwise, a defendant could be deprived of his or her right to a fair hearing. (See People v. Castellano, 2020 IL App (1st) 170543).

Whenever you shall be tried for a crime, Illinois law requires the court to determine whether you can understand English and can express yourself so as to be understood directly by counsel, court or jury. If the court finds that you cannot, the court must appoint an interpreter that you can understand and who can understand you. This right extends to defendants who need interpreters for sign language. (See 725 ILCS 140/1).

Any interpreter must follow the Illinios Supreme Court Code of Interpreter Ethics which requires that they shall render a complete and accurate interpretation, without changing, adding or omitting anything.

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. Do the police have probable cause to arrest you? Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Even if the police acted lawfully 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.)

Monday, January 18, 2021

WHAT IS DOMESTIC BATTERY UNDER ILLINOIS LAW?

You commit domestic battery if you knowingly without legal justification by any means: (1) cause bodily harm to any family or household member; (2) makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with any family or household member. (See 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2.)

To be convicted of domestic battery, you must meet the definition of “family or household member.” Illinois courts have included dating relationships within the law. A dating relationship is a serious courtship, defined as a relationship with a significant romantic focus and a shared expectation of growth. This determination can be highly fact specific. In People v. Allen, a sexual on-again, off-again relationship that took place over eight months where the parties got together to watch movies was considered sufficient. (See our related blog at What is a dating relationship under Illinois domestic battery law?.)

Domestic battery is a class A misdemeanor for a first offense. Depending on if you have a criminal record and the nature of your past crimes, domestic battery can be upgraded to a felony. There are stiffer sentencing requirements if you committed such battery in front of a child, plus you may have to pay for the child’s counseling.

If you have been charged with domestic battery or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. It is critical not to try to talk yourself out of the situation with police. What you think is a reasonable explanation can sound like an excuse, or worse, evidence to convict you.

An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. As with most criminal offenses, the state must prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Were you a family or household member? Did you have legal justification for the battery? Was the physical contact really of an insulting or provoking nature?

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.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

WHAT IS FIRST DEGREE MURDER IN ILLINOIS?

Under Illinois law, there are three kinds of first degree murder.
  1. Intentional murder where you intend to kill or do great bodily harm to another knowing that your actions will cause death;
  2. Strong probability murder: Where you know your acts create a strong probability of death or great bodily harm;
  3. Felony murder: Where you kill someone while you are committing a forcible felony such as armed burglary (but not second degree murder).
See 720 ILCS 5/9-1.

To convict you, all three types of first degree murder require that you were acting without lawful justification. Therefore, if you can prove a defense such as necessity or self-defense, your conduct may be legally justified.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, an experienced attorney can review your case for your best defense. Did police obtain any required warrants before searching or arresting you? Did police properly record any confession? Was a confession coerced? Can the state prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Can they prove you were the culprit? Or that you acted with intent? Were you trying to save someone else or yourself from imminent physical danger? Even if the police acted lawfully and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the court house 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.)

Thursday, December 31, 2020

WHAT IS CONCEALMENT OF HOMICIDAL DEATH IN ILLINOIS?

In the 1944 comedy, Arsenic and Old Lace, Cary Grant’s character, Mortimer, finds a body in the window seat. It turns out that Mortimer’s elderly aunts have been murdering lonely, old bachelors “to end their suffering” by serving them arsenic-spiked elderberry wine. Mortimer’s brother, Teddy, assists the aunts by burying the bodies in the basement. Teddy and the aunts eventually end up in an asylum.

In real life, however, Teddy (and possibly Mortimer) could be charged with concealment of homicidal death, a Class 3 felony punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison. Furthermore, nothing in that law prevents Teddy from being charged with first or second degree murder or involuntary manslaughter if the facts so warrant.

Under 720 ILCS 5/9-3.4, you commit concealment of homicidal death when you knowingly conceal the death of any other person with knowledge that such other person has died by homicidal means. “Conceal” means that you performed some act to prevent or delay discovery of the murder, but this act must be something more than simply failing to disclose information. The concealment can occur where the body is found, but also where a body is transported from a murder site to delay discovery of the homicide.

If a body is moved out of state, there might be some issue as to which state may prosecute the crime. In People v. McVay, the court stated that Illinois may prosecute the crime if an offense is committed either wholly or partly within the state.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Did your actions meet the definition of “conceal” or were you merely refusing to give information? For example, if someone asked you to dump a barrel into a river, did you know what it contained? Did you know a homicide had even occurred?

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 18, 2020

WHAT IS OBSTRUCTING A PEACE OFFICER UNDER ILLINOIS LAW?

If the police give you an order, are you obstructing a peace officer if you refuse? The answer may depend on whether your actions “materially” obstructed the officer in his or her official duties.

Under 720 ILCS 5/31-1(a) you commit a Class A misdemeanor when you knowingly resist or obstruct the performance of a police officer, firefighter, or correctional institution employee in any authorized act within their official capacity. To determine if your obstruction is material, a court looks at the length of the delay caused by your refusal, the nature of your obstruction and the nature of the officer’s authorized act.

In People v. Mehta, officers were investigating a report of a man threatening someone in a parking lot with a gun when a black SUV arrived on the scene. Officers then asked the SUV passenger to exit with his hands up and turn around. The passenger refused several times but eventually complied. The court found that passenger’s refusal caused up to a 3-minute delay which materially impeded the officers’ gun investigation. While the length of the delay was relatively minor, the obstruction occurred during a high-tension for police situation at night in a gang area where there was a suspicion of gun activity.

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. Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Did you know the officer was an official? Did the officer act in his or her official capacity? Was your obstruction minimal rather than “material?”

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, 2020

WHAT IS THE CRIME OF ASSAULT IN ILLINOIS?

You commit assault when, without lawful authority, you knowingly engage in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery. Assault is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail. (See 720 ILCS 5/12-1).

In defining assault, Illinois courts have held that words alone are usually not enough without some action accompanying those words. Further, a victim must be in fear of immediate battery, not of undetermined future harm. (Note that certain factors such as the victim’s age can upgrade an assault charge into aggravated assault which can be a Class A misdemeanor or Class 4 felony. See 720 ILCS 5/12-2).

Examples of threatening conduct that meet the definition of assault include cases where a defendant has his or her hand on a gun or a tire iron while threatening physical harm. In one case, the defendant drove his car within a few feet of the victim, who was confined to a wheelchair, shouted at her, exited his vehicle, and then came within a foot of her and threatened to “beat her head in.”

However, in People. v. VanHoose, the court did not find sufficient evidence to convict another defendant of assault. There was no evidence of conduct that would place a reasonable person in fear of imminent harm given that he was 15 or 20 feet away from the alleged victim when he made the threats and there were obstacles between them.

If you have been charged with assault or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Even if the police acted lawfully 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, November 20, 2020

CAN I BE CHARGED WITH A CRIME WHEN I WASN’T EVEN ON THE SCENE?

The answer is yes--if the prosecution can prove you intended to help with the crime.

Under one definition of Illinois accountability law: A person is legally accountable for the conduct of another when either before or during the offense, and with intent to facilitate the offense, you solicit, aid, abet, agree, or attempt to aid another person in the planning or commission of the offense. 720 ILCS 5/5-2.

The State must prove your intent to facilitate by establishing either that (1) you shared the criminal intent of the principal offender; or (2) you and the principal offender had a common criminal design—i.e., you both intended to commit some other crime that was advanced by the crime charged. The state may infer common design from the circumstances surrounding the crime. The state need not show that you said words of agreement or that you actively participated.

Whether there is enough evidence to prove you were in on the crime is highly fact specific and may depend on the viewpoint of your particular judge. In one Illinois case, the court rejected evidence that defendant’s presence at the crime scene, knowledge that a crime had been committed and his subsequent flight amounted to accountability. (People v. Johnson, 2014 IL App (1st) 122459-B.) In People v. Ramos, the appellate court rejected a lower court’s interpretation of events, that the defendant had advance knowledge of a gang-related shooting, overturning his conviction.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Can the state prove intent beyond a reasonable doubt? Is there clear evidence of your involvement? 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.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

WHAT IS THE CRIME OF STALKING IN ILLINOIS?

In Illinois, you commit stalking when you knowingly engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person, and you knew, or should have known, that this course of conduct would cause a reasonable person to fear for their or a third person’s safety or cause them to suffer other emotional distress.

Stalking also means that you knowingly and without legal justification followed another person or placed that person under surveillance at least twice, and you threatened or caused the person to reasonably fear a threat of bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement or restraint. The threat must be directed at that person or their family member.

A course of conduct means two or more acts, “including but not limited to acts in which a defendant directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about, a person, engages in other non-consensual contact, or interferes with or damages a person’s property or pet. A course of conduct may include contact via electronic communications.” (See: 720 ILCS 5/12-7.3).

In People v. Ashley, the Illinois Supreme Court defined the term “threatens” to mean “true threats” of unlawful violence such as bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement and restraint. The court rejected the argument that the law was unconstitutional, finding the term “threatens” was not overly broad and thus did not infringe free speech.

Stalking is a Class 4 felony, but a later offense is a Class 3 felony.

If you are charged with stalking or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Do not try to talk yourself out of your situation. What seems like a reasonable explanation to you might instead give the state the evidence needed to convict you. An experienced attorney can instead review your case for your most favorable defense. Can the state prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Did you know the victim was in the area? Were the statements you made actually threats? Is the victim’s fear of harm reasonable?

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, October 23, 2020

CAN I CLAIM PTSD AS A DIMINISHED CAPACITY DEFENSE IN ILLINIOS?

The answer is no. Diminished capacity is not recognized as a defense in Illinois. However, you might instead consider whether you were not guilty by reason of insanity or guilty but mentally ill.

In the that recognize diminished capacity, a legally sane defendant may present evidence of mental illness to negate the specific intent required to commit a particular crime. Diminished capacity may be caused by intoxication, trauma or disease.

For example in People v. Frazier, the defendant, an Iraq military veteran, claimed his PTSD prevented him from forming the intent necessary to commit aggravated discharge of a firearm. In that case, the court rejected this defense.

In contrast, under the insanity defense, you may not be criminally responsible for your offense as a result of mental disease or defect where you lack the substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of your conduct. The terms "mental disease or mental defect" do not include abnormalities manifested only by repeated criminal or otherwise antisocial conduct. In other words, you would not likely have an insanity defense if you were a serial killer without some other form of mental illness.

If you are mentally ill, but not insane, you may still be held criminally responsible for your conduct. This is known as guilty but mentally ill. In this sense, “mentally ill” means you had a substantial disorder of thought, mood or behavior which impaired your judgment, but not to the extent that you were unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of your behavior.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Did the police have probable cause to arrest you? Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Even if the police acted lawfully 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, October 16, 2020

CAN I BE ARRESTED FOR SOMETHING FOUND UNDER THE PASSENGER SEAT OF MY CAR?

You were driving around town with your friend. You stepped a little too heavy on the gas, so the police stopped you for speeding. At first, you weren’t too concerned, but then the officer pulled a plastic baggie out from under your friend’s seat. Can you be arrested for that?

The answer depends on whether the state can prove the contraband was yours. Possession can be actual or constructive. Actual possession means you basically had the item on your person. Constructive possession means you knew the drugs or weapons were present, and you exercised immediate and exclusive control over the area in which they were found.

If the baggie was under your seat or you were the only person with access to the car, the state may prove constructive possession. If instead the baggie was hidden from you and out of your reach but not your friend’s, you may be able to raise a reasonable doubt that the item was yours.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. As with most criminal offenses, the state must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. An experienced attorney can probe for weaknesses in the state’s case.

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.

Reference: People v. Thomas.

(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 8, 2020

WHAT IS “LEGAL INSANITY” UNDER ILLINOIS CRIMINAL LAW?

Under Illinois law, you may be legally insane if, at the time you committed a crime, you suffered from a mental disease or defect such that you lacked the substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of your conduct. (See 720 ILCS 5/6-2(a)). Generally that means you didn’t understand you were doing something wrong. As such, efforts to cover up your crime may undermine an insanity defense.

If you raise the defense, you have the burden of proving insanity by clear and convincing evidence. The state need not put on expert testimony to prove you are sane, but may rely on existing evidence to counter your case. The state must still prove you guilty of the crime itself beyond a reasonable doubt.

Mental illness, bizarre behavior or delusional behavior do not necessarily mean legal insanity but may be factors to consider in determining your capacity to appreciate the criminality of your conduct.

For example, in People v. Plackowska, the defendant stabbed two children and two dogs to death. The court found that while defendant had a mental illness, her efforts to put the knife down the garbage disposal, discard her cell phone and make up a story about an intruder proved that she knew she was committing a crime.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. If your sanity may be at issue, an attorney can help select and prepare any mental health experts on your behalf.

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, September 28, 2020

CAN I BE ARRESTED WHEN GETTING HELP FOR A DRUG OVERDOSE?

With some exceptions, the answer is generally no.

Illinois law grants limited immunity from prosecution for drugs found where the evidence against you was discovered because you sought emergency help in good faith, and the amount of the substance was within certain limits (See 720 ILCS 570/414 for limits.) Police may not arrest you based on evidence obtained as a direct result of getting help. Therefore, if someone is having an overdose, you generally need not fear calling 911.

In People v. Markham, the defendant’s companion called 911 when defendant was having an overdose. Before leaving for the hospital, defendant asked for his wallet and house keys. A rolled up dollar bill containing heroin was sticking out of his wallet. Because the heroin was found as a result of the emergency help, the court said the defendant was immune from prosecution: “We hold that the Act provides broad and unconditional protection from the prying eyes of law enforcement present at the scene of an overdose, regardless of whether that location is a personal residence, a business, a vehicle, and so on.”

The police may still search or arrest you if they have a reasonable suspicion based on information that they obtained independently or prior to your call. For example, the state could prosecute a woman that officers found sleeping in a car as she had not called for help and the officers noticed drug paraphernalia before they realized she was suffering from an overdose.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Were you seeking emergency help? Do the police have a separate basis from the emergency for charging you with a crime? If not, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the evidence stemming from your emergency call.

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, September 11, 2020

WHAT IS ‘INTERFERING WITH PERSONAL LIBERTY’ UNDER ILLINOIS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAW?

You have just been charged with domestic violence based on interfering with your ex’s personal liberty. What does that mean? What can you do about it?

Under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act, "'interference with personal liberty' means committing or threatening physical abuse, harassment, intimidation or willful deprivation so as to compel another to engage in conduct from which she or he has a right to abstain or to refrain from conduct in which she or he has a right to engage."

In a 1994 Illinois case, In re Marriage of Healy, the court declined to find interference with personal liberty where the complainant believed the respondent had an alcohol problem, he had muttered swear words under his breath, and he had awakened the children early in the morning to go on a trip on which the complainant feared they might have an accident.

If someone is seeking an order of protection against you or you have been accused of violating an order of protection, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not try to talk your way out of your situation. What you may think is a reasonable explanation may give the state the ammunition they need to enforce an order against you. An attorney can help present your situation to the court 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.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

WILL I HAVE TO TESTIFY IN MY DCFS APPEAL?

You have been indicated for child abuse from the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS). You want to appeal but you recall from TV that criminal defendants usually don’t take the stand. You are afraid you could say the wrong thing out of sheer anxiety and confusion.

Do you have to testify before the DCFS? Under certain circumstances, the hearing officer could compel you.

Under DCFS rules, the agency has the burden of showing by a preponderance of evidence that you are guilty of the offense charged by a preponderance of the evidence. (This is a dramatically lighter burden than the one used in criminal cases, which is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”) In all cases, a hearing officer—-there is no right to a jury--will judge whether DCFS has met its burden of proof against you.

At the hearing, DCFS may call you to testify on the record. Your attorney may object, but there is a good chance the testimony will come in regardless. Testifying, however, can be a double-edged sword.

On one hand, you might inadvertently corroborate some of the evidence against you. But, you might also cast doubt on other aspects of the case. For example, are you able to offer an alternate explanation for any marks on the victim’s body? Can you explain any apparent inconsistencies in your statement to DCFS? Do you have an alibi? How did DCFS learn about the allegations? Through a vengeful ex-paramour? An experienced defense attorney can be critical in preparing you to testify.

If you have questions about a DCFS 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.)

Saturday, August 22, 2020

CAN POLICE SEARCH MY MOUTH DURING A STOP?

According to Illinois law, the answer is probably not--especially if the police used force.

In People v. Augusta, defendant was stopped for failure to signal when turning. The officer asked defendant if he had something in his mouth, which defendant denied. The officer ordered defendant to open his mouth, but then began to choke him. Defendant had in fact been concealing bags of drugs.

The trial judge denied defendant’s motion to suppress the drug evidence, stating that the officer had probable cause to believe the contraband was in defendant’s mouth.

The appellate court disagreed. The court found that the officer’s actions violated a law barring a peace officer from using a chokehold, or any lesser contact with the throat or neck area of another, in order to prevent ingesting the evidence. (See Prohibited Use of Force by A Peace Officer). A chokehold is defined as any direct pressure intended to reduce or prevent the intake of air. The officer’s conduct met the definition of “lesser contact.”

The court further held that the drugs were not in plain view. An officer may seize an object without a warrant if it is in plain view as long as: (1) the officers are lawfully in a position from which they can view the object, (2) the incriminating character of the object is immediately apparent, and (3) the officers have a lawful right of access to the object. The court stated that the incriminating nature of the object was not immediately apparent as the officers only saw a piece of plastic and a bulge in defendant’s cheek. While plastic in the mouth is unusual, the court did not find it was inherently incriminating.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Was the police stop and search legal? If not, an attorney may be able to bring a motion asking the judge to suppress the evidence. Bear in mind that different judges weigh the facts quite differently. Therefore, an attorney who is familiar with the courthouse may best present your particular situation 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.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

ILLINOIS CRIMINALIZES ATTACKING MERCHANTS WHO ENFORCE COVID-RELATED SAFETY RULES

As of August 7, 2020, Illinois has made it a Class 3 felony to attack any merchant who attempts to enforce COVID-related safety guidelines.

The new law amends the aggravated battery statute. Section (720 ILCS 5/12-3.05(d)(12)) applies when you commit battery (other than with a firearm) against a merchant who is performing his or her duties, including relaying government or employer-related health/safety guidelines, during and for six months after a government-declared state of disaster due to a public health emergency.

If you are charged with aggravated battery or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. As with most criminal offenses, the state must still prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Under Illinois law, battery is defined as knowingly and without legal justification causing bodily harm or making physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature. Did you make physical contact or were you simply arguing? Was the merchant performing his or her duties? Even if you clearly went off the rails, 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, August 7, 2020

HOW WILL MY BAIL BE DETERMINED?

If you are arrested for a criminal offense, you may be released from the police station on personal recognizance, that is, without paying bail. If not, however, you may appear before a judge who will set bail and/or determine any other conditions of your release that are necessary to reasonably assure 1) your appearance, 2) the safety of the community, and 3) the likelihood of compliance with all conditions of bail.

Based on available information, the court looks at

  1. The nature and circumstances of the offense charged,
  2. Whether the offense involved the use or threats of violence,
  3. The likelihood the state will upgrade the charges against you,
  4. The likelihood of conviction,
  5. The potential sentence upon conviction,
  6. The weight of the evidence against you,
  7. Whether you have the motivation or ability to flee,
  8. Your past conduct,
  9. Whether the evidence shows that you engaged in significant possession, manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance, either individually or with others, and
  10. Whether you were already on bond or pretrial release pending trial.

The court must use the least restrictive conditions of bond necessary to insure your appearance and protect the integrity of the judicial system from threats to third parties. Any conditions of release should be nonmonetary. The court must also consider your socio-economic circumstances.

Conditions can include electronic home monitoring, curfews, drug counseling, stay-away orders and in-person reporting.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney may be able to bring favorable information to the judge’s attention in hopes of reducing your bail.

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.

(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, July 24, 2020

AM I RESPONSIBLE FOR A CRIME IF I WAS UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF A PRESCRIPTION DRUG?

The answer is that you may have a diminished capacity defense if you were involuntarily intoxicated because you were not warned about the side effects of a prescription drug. Beyond that, diminished capacity and/or voluntary intoxication is not recognized as a defense in Illinois.

To prove diminished capacity, you must show: 1) that your conduct was involuntary because of the unwarned side effects of prescription medication; and 2) these side effects made you so intoxicated that you lacked substantial capacity either to appreciate that you were committing a crime or to conform your behavior to the requirements of the law. See 720 ILCS 5/6-3.

A defendant’s burden to prove diminished capacity is very high and mostly unsuccessful. For example, in People v. Taliani, the defendant argued that he had not been warned about the side effects of taking Buspar and Desyrel simultaneously. As such, he suffered from heightened irritability, confusion, altered consciousness and increased ideas of suicide, which he claimed led to killing his girlfriend and shooting her mother. The court found that while the defendant may have shown he suffered from involuntarily produced side effects, it was not apparent that those side effects deprived him of the substantial capacity to know that shooting the victims was a criminal act or to refrain from engaging in that conduct.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Do the police have probable cause to arrest you? Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Even if the police acted lawfully 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, July 17, 2020

WHAT IS CHILD PORNOGRAPHY UNDER ILLINOIS CRIMINAL LAW?

Under Illinois law, you may not photograph, film or depict any minor child in a pose involving a lewd exhibition of the child’s unclothed or transparently clothed private parts. You also may not possess such depictions of a child you know is under age 18.

But how do you know if the photo you have is pornography? A recent Illinois case reviewed that topic.

In People v. Van Syckle, the court used an objective standard in weighing the following six factors: 1) whether the focal point of the visual depiction is on the child’s genitals; (2) whether the setting of the visual depiction is sexually suggestive, i.e., in a place or pose generally associated with sexual activity; (3) whether the child, considering its age, is depicted in an unnatural pose or in inappropriate attire; (4) whether the child is fully or partially clothed or nude; (5) whether the visual depiction suggests sexual coyness or a willingness to engage in sexual activity; and (6) whether the visual depiction is intended or designed to elicit a sexual response in the viewer. As to the sixth factor, the court looks at whether the image invites the viewer to perceive the image from some sexualized or deviant point of view.

In the above case, the defendant was a high school pool equipment manager who secretly videotaped a 14-year-old student as she was changing out of her swimsuit. The lower court dismissed the case finding that the images did not meet the definition of lewd. However, the appellate court said this issue needed to be reconsidered and sent the case back for further review.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Did the police search your computer and was that search legal? Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Whether a photo is seen as pornographic can depend somewhat on your particular judge or jury. Even if the evidence is clear, an attorney, who is respected in the court house 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, July 3, 2020

CAN A MURDER SENTENCE IN ILLINOIS BE COMMUTED?

The answer is yes. Given the right circumstances, you can petition the governor to reduce a life sentence, and such petitions have been granted.

The governor of Illinois has full power to commute any sentence or issue a pardon for any petitioner he or she deems is worthy. Current governor J.B. Pritzker has already commuted sentences of convicted felons in a number of cases, including some that were very serious. During the COVID-19 crisis, some requests have even been expedited.

After filing a petition with the Prisoner Review Board, you will have an opportunity to present witnesses at a hearing, although prisoners are not be permitted to appear. These hearings are held both in Chicago and in Springfield. The Prisoner Review Board then makes a recommendation to the governor.

The real question is: Can you make a strong case? What was the nature of your involvement in the offense? Were you in a barroom fight or did you take several weeks to plan the perfect crime? How many years have you served on your sentence? What is your prison record like? Have you shown genuine remorse and have you genuinely reformed? Do you have credible character references? Are there special circumstances? During the Covid-19 outbreak, some convicted felons are being released if they can demonstrate a history of significant health issues, such as serious heart trouble or emphysema

Realistically, a serial killer or the perpetrator of a particularly vicious act is not going to be considered for release. Short of that, an experienced attorney can assist in evaluating whether there are compelling reasons to proceed with a petition.

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.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

HOW CAN I HELP MY LOVED ONE EARN EARLY RELEASE FROM PRISON?

It’s been many years since your loved one was sent to prison. You believe that he or she has more than paid any debt to society. Is there anything you can do to help your loved get out early?

The answer is yes, depending on the circumstances. In Illinois, your loved one can petition the governor for executive clemency and request a commutation (or shortening) of their sentence. You can assist this process in many ways.

For starters, you can help select a qualified attorney, who you trust and feel you can work with. The attorney will likely meet with your loved one and prepare the Petition for Executive Clemency. This form requires a personal history along with exhibits. You can provide information about your loved one’s life and help gather documentation such as family photos and character reference letters.

Finally, the attorney may request a hearing before the Prisoner Review Board. While prisoners are not allowed to attend, you, along with other witnesses, may testify on your loved one’s behalf. An experienced attorney can help prepare this testimony.

If you have questions about commutation, contact an experienced attorney. You do not necessarily need an attorney to file a Petition for Executive Clemency, but an attorney can best help in presenting a strong case. Witnesses often say things they think are helpful that have the exact opposite effect. What seems like reasonable justification to you can sound self serving to the Prisoner Review Board. An attorney can help you and your loved one avoid these pitfalls.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois executive clemency 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 1, 2020

WHAT IS RESISTING ARREST UNDER ILLINOIS LAW?

You commit the offense of resisting arrest if you knowingly resist or obstruct someone you know is a peace officer, firefighter, or correctional institution employee in performing any authorized act within their official capacity. See 720 ILCS 5/31-1. Resisting arrest is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.

To convict you, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew (1) the person obstructed or resisted was a peace officer, firefighter or correctional institution employee, and that (2) you were obstructing or resisting that officer’s authorized act. Further, the officer must be engaged in an authorized act within his or her official capacity.

If you are charged with resisting arrest, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your situation for your best possible defense. Did you know you were dealing with a peace officer? Did he or she identify themselves in some way? Was the officer acting in their official capacity or were they simply having a drink at the bar?

For example, in People v. Borders, 2020 IL App (2d) 180324, the court reversed a defendant’s conviction because the officer did not tell the defendant that he was under arrest until after they had struggled and defendant was lying handcuffed on the ground. The court reasoned that “One cannot knowingly resist an arrest until one knows that it is occurring.”

Be aware that an officer need not say, “you are under arrest,” as long as he or she communicates the intention to arrest in some way. Further, even if an arrest is not lawful, you may not use force to resist. An unlawful arrest is still considered an authorized act under the law.

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.)

WHAT IS RECKLESS CONDUCT UNDER ILLINOIS LAW?

Events in the news have sparked public outrage, which has resulted in protests and civil unrest. Sometimes these protests get out of hand, and participants may find themselves arrested for an offense such as reckless conduct.

Under Illinois law, you commit reckless conduct when you, by any means lawful or unlawful, recklessly perform an act that (1) causes bodily harm or endangers the safety of another; or (2) causes great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to another. (See 720 ILCS 5/12-5). The first type of reckless conduct is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. The second type is a Class 4 felony, punishable by one to four years in prison.

Reckless conduct can apply to a variety of actions from striking someone in the head to mishandling a gun.

If you have been charged with reckless conduct or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. As with most crimes, the state must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Were your actions truly reckless? Illinois courts have held that negligence alone is not enough. Illinois law defines “acting recklessly” as consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a certain result will flow. Courts look at whether such disregard grossly deviates from the risks a reasonable person would take in the same situation.

In defining recklessness, the court reviews all the facts and circumstances of your case. An experienced attorney can help you present those facts in their 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.

Reference: People v. Gosse.

(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, May 27, 2020

HOW IS CHILD NEGLECT DEFINED BY ILLINOIS DCFS?

Under Illinois law, a neglected child is defined as:
  1. Children who are not receiving care necessary for their well-being, such as medical treatment, food, clothing or shelter;
  2. Children who have been abandoned;
  3. Children who have received crisis intervention services and cannot return home; and
  4. Infants born with controlled substances in their systems.

Before indicating you for neglect, the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) considers the child's age; medical condition; behavioral, mental, or emotional problems; any developmental or physical disability; your physical, mental, and emotional abilities; and any history of your being indicated for abuse or neglect.

If you have been indicated for child neglect by DCFS, you have the right to request a hearing before an administrative law judge. You must request the hearing within 60 days. At the hearing, DCFS must prove neglect by a preponderance of evidence. While that burden is not very difficult, an experienced attorney may still be able to cast doubt on the evidence against you. How bad are the child’s behavioral problems, if any? Does the child have a history of falsehood or manipulation? Was the DCFS interview of the child taped? Is the child’s story consistent? Was the child pushed into giving incriminating answers?

For example, in Walk v. Department of Child and Family Services, the court overturned a finding of neglect against foster parents who placed each of two children in a “cage” at various times for brief periods for the children’s own protection. The children had a history of severe behavioral problems and would sneak out to kill animals on the farm or try to burn down the barn. The cage was large enough for the child to run in, bigger than many bedrooms and contained toys and a sandbox.

In Julie Q. v. Department of Children & Family Services, 2013 IL 113783, a mother was indicated for neglect based in part on the child’s allegations of alcohol abuse. The Court overturned the neglect finding as several witnesses had testified that the child had a history of untruthfulness.

If you have been indicated by DCFS, contact an experienced attorney immediately. Do not try to talk your way out of the situation as you may inadvertently trap yourself. An experienced attorney can review your case for your best defense as well as helping you present yourself to DCFS in a positive manner.

If you have questions about a DCFS finding, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

Reference: 325 ILCS 5/3.

(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.)