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, 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.)

IS IT REALLY A RELATIONSHIP UNDER ILLINOIS DOMESTIC BATTERY LAW?

If you have been charged with domestic battery, the prosecution must still prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Under one definition, the state must prove you were in a dating relationship. But how much of a relationship is enough?

Under Illinois law, a defendant is guilty of domestic battery if he or she causes bodily harm to any family or household member. (See 720 ILCS 5/12- 3.2(a)(1). A family or household member can be someone who has or has had a dating or engagement relationship with you, but does not include a casual acquaintanceship or include ordinary fraternization between two individuals in a business or social context.

Illinois courts have considered a dating relationship to be a serious courtship that is at least an established relationship with a significant romantic focus. One court did not find a dating relationship where both defendant and victim engaged in random sexual encounters which were physical in nature and not romantic, and where both denied they were dating. However, another court did find a dating relationship where the parties had dated for six weeks and continued to have sex until the offense occurred.

The determination of whether you are in a dating relationship can be very fact specific. Different judges may perceive those same facts very differently. Therefore, it is important to have an attorney who is familiar with the courthouse and the outlook of 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.

References: People v. Wallace and People v. Irvine.

(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, May 15, 2020

WHAT ARE THE RULES FOR A POLICE SEARCH OF MY COMPUTER?

The founding fathers likely never envisioned the challenges to the Fourth Amendment that storing your life on your computer would create. The courts, however, have developed some guidelines as these cases have come before them. The court in People v. McCavitt has spelled out these rules.

For starters, you do have a reasonable expectation of privacy in your personal computers and computer files. Therefore, police must obtain a warrant before searching your computer (unless some exception to the warrant requirement exists such as the evidence was in plain view). After obtaining a warrant, the police may create a mirror image of your hard drive for later analysis.

Once an item has been legally seized, that item is no longer private. The police may conduct further searches without a warrant as long as your computer or the mirrored hard drive remains in their continuous possession. There are no limits as to when a search must occur or how long it may last. However, the state must still complete the review of your electronic data within a reasonable time, and they may not hold onto your property indefinitely.

Courts determine reasonableness on a case by case basis. When it comes to computers, a search is reasonable if it takes several years to complete as long as it ends before trial and stays within the parameters of the original search warrant.

The state might still violate the Fourth Amendment if state fails to quickly return information contained in a mirrored hard drive that is not within the warrant’s scope or if the state retains all data in a mirrored hard drive regardless of whether a warrant authorized its seizure. All property seized must be returned to you once the criminal proceedings have terminated.

In People v. McCavitt, the defendant, a Peoria police officer was charged with child pornography. Police made an EnCase file to examine the defendant’s hard drive. The defendant was found not guilty. Police then opened a further investigation, reexamining the original EnCase file. The court found that this violated the Fourth Amendment. Once defendant’s trial ended, police could not retain any portion of the EnCase file and thus had no authority to search that file.

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. Was the search of your computer legal? 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.)

CAN A LIFE SENTENCE IN PRISON BE COMMUTED IN ILLINOIS?

Your loved one was a good student but had some tough friends. Eventually those friends were involved in a murder, and your loved one got stuck with the rap. After being convicted, he or she was sentenced to life in prison. Is there hope for a release?

In some circumstances, the governor could commute their sentence. Illinois permits offenders to petition the governor for clemency through the State of Illinois Prisoner Review Board. The various types of clemency include commutation of sentence, pardon, expungement or reprieve.

While an attorney is not required, it is well worth considering getting one on board. To apply for commutation, you must submit a Petition for Executive Clemency along with supporting documentation. While just about anyone can fill out the petition, knowing how to present your loved one’s case can be a bit tricky. Be aware that the state’s attorney will likely protest any leniency, and the victim’s family may attend any hearing to protest early release in full force. Furthermore, it is best to avoid protests of innocence, which are almost never successful. An attorney can evaluate your loved one’s case and present the most positive arguments for an early release.

Upon submitting the petition, you may request a hearing before the Prisoner Review Board in either Chicago or Springfield. If a hearing is selected, the defendant will not be allowed to attend. The board will likely have questions and they will listen carefully to any answers. In my practice, I have watched unrepresented parties damage their loved one’s chance of commutation through ill-considered comments. The son of one defendant even chastised a victim’s daughter. As such, an articulate spokesperson who can make the case for your loved one’s release is essential. An experienced attorney can help prepare the testimony of witnesses to make a good impression as well.

If your loved one accepts responsibility for what happened and has a clean record during his or her years of detention, you may have grounds for a successful petition to commute the sentence to time served.

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 17, 2020

CAN I APPEAL A CHILD ABUSE FINDING FROM DCFS?

You agreed to take care of your sister's children while she recovered from surgery. You knew your one nephew was a bit of a handful who doesn’t like the word, “No.” That same child sprained his ankle on the basement steps, and now he says you pushed him down the stairs. The Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) investigated and has indicated you for child neglect or abuse.

Can you appeal?

An indicated finding by DCFS can have a dramatic impact on your entire life. Your name may be placed on a statewide registry of offenders, which could limit your ability to gain employment in some businesses as well as your ability to be around children. You may even have difficulty visiting grandchildren who live out of state.

Overturning such a finding may be tough but not impossible.

If DCFS does indicate you, you must request an appeal within 60 days from the date on the letter notifying you of that finding. If you miss this deadline, you are out of luck. However, once an appeal is timely requested, you may have a hearing.

If you do wish to appeal, an experienced attorney can be essential. An attorney can help raise doubts about the finding as well as help you put your best foot forward. How did the offense get reported? Did a doctor examine the child? Was a forensic interview with the child done in a fair and professional manner? Are there other witnesses? Is there an alternative explanation for any injuries that are observed? How are you coming across? Do you seem too angry and defensive?

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, April 8, 2020

CAN I GET MY LOVED ONE OUT OF PRISON BECAUSE OF COVID-19?

If you have a loved one in an Illinois state prison right now, there may be hope for early release.

The current coronavirus pandemic across the world is unprecedented in many ways. There is a general agreement that Illinois should try to control the spread by reducing the number of prisoners in custody. Governor J.B. Pritzker has indicated that his staff will be evaluating cases on an individual basis.

If your loved one has a history of respiratory or lung issues, he or she may be an excellent candidate for a medical release. Bear in mind that while such a release is unlikely to be granted to convicted murderers and rapists, among others, thousands of current inmates in state prison may qualify.

While you may be able to fill out the request form yourself, an experienced attorney can help present your loved one’s case in its most persuasive light. Among the many questions to be addressed: Will the inmate have a place to live? Do minor children live there? What is their criminal record? Is there medical documentation for their condition?

Even if your loved one does not qualify for a medical release, an experienced attorney may still be able to help. Under the right circumstances, your loved one could qualify for a commutation of their sentence. While this procedure is lengthier and more complicated, there may still be hope.

If you would like to petition for a medical release or other form of executive clemency such as pardon or commutationa, 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 3, 2020

THE CRIME OF THREATENING A PUBLIC OFFICIAL IN ILLINOIS

Frustrated by a traffic stop, you let the officer know exactly how you felt. Or maybe you took your frustration out on a judge who ruled against you. Either way, you are now charged with threatening a public official.

Can you be convicted? The answer depends on what you said and the context in which you said it.

In Illinois, you can be charged with threatening a public official or human service provider when you knowingly communicate a threat that would place the official or their immediate family in reasonable fear of bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement, restraint or damage to property. The threat may be communicated in any way. Further, the threat must be related to the official’s status or performance of their job.

For the state to convict, your statement must be a “true threat.” True threats are those where you intended to threaten violence, but not necessarily where you intended to act on the threat. To determine your intent, the court looks at the totality of the circumstances.

Threats to police, social workers, caseworkers, investigators or human service providers must contain specific facts indicating a unique threat to their person, family or property and not a generalized threat of harm.

One Illinois court held that the language “I’m gonna get you,” was not a true threat because the state did not show the context in which the threat was made. Illinois courts have also held that a defendant’s yelling at a prosecutor to “come back and say that to my face” and a defendant’s threat to a judge that he’ll “be hearing from someone” were also not true threats.

Threatening an official is a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years in prison, for a first offense and a Class 2 felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison for later offenses.

If you have been charged with a threatening an official or other crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. What exactly did you say? Can the state prove your intent? 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.

See 720 ILCS 5/12-9(a) and People v. Smith.

(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 29, 2020

ILLINOIS CYBERSTALKING LAW DOES NOT VIOLATE FIRST AMENDMENT

You texted some things you probably shouldn’t have to your ex-fiancé. You knew the texts were nasty, but you were blowing off steam. And what about your right to free speech?

A recent Illinois court decision has held that certain comments, such as true threats, are not protected speech under the First Amendment.

Under one definition of cyberstalking, the state must prove that you knowingly and without lawful justification harassed another person at least twice through electronic communication, and you transmitted a threat of bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement, or restraint which was directed towards that person or their family; or you placed that person in reasonable fear of such harm or you solicited a third person to commit cyberstalking for you. (See 720 ILCS 5/12-7.5(a-3)).

In People v. Crawford, the court rejected the idea that the cyberstalking law violated due process or free speech. In that case, the defendant sent several text messages telling the victim she was “GONE DIE,” and “I WILL F*** MURDER U.” The defendant argued his statements were protected by the First Amendment. The court disagreed stating that the defendant’s messages were true threats, and thus not constitutionally-protected speech. True threats are statements where you intend to communicate a serious expression of your intent to commit an act of violence to a particular individual or group. You need not actually intend to carry out your threat.

If you have been charged with cyberstalking or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. As with most crimes, the state must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Were your texts true threats or were they misunderstood? Were you just kidding around? Was the victim’s fear of harm reasonable? 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, March 20, 2020

WHAT IS THE CRIME OF AGGRAVATED STALKING IN ILLINOIS?

Under Illinois law, you commit aggravated stalking when you stalk another and either 1) cause bodily harm; 2) confine or restrain that person; 3) violate a court order; or 4) stalk a victim or their family when you were required to register as a sex offender because of an offense against that victim. (See Aggravated Stalking.)

Stalking means that you knowingly engaged in conduct directed at a specific person, that you knew or should have known would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress or fear for their own or another’s safety.

Stalking is also defined as knowingly following another person and/or placing them under surveillance at least twice, and threatening them or placing them in reasonable fear of bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement or restraint. The threat must have been directed towards that person or their family member. Surveilling a person includes staying outside of their school, place of employment, vehicle, other place occupied by them or their residence unless it is your own.

Aggravated stalking is a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years in prison. A second or subsequent conviction is a Class 2 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 experienced attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Would your conduct have caused a reasonable person to fear harm? Was your conduct even directed at the alleged victim? Did you violate the specific terms of any no-contact order? As with most crimes, the state must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. An attorney can probe for weaknesses in the state’s case in hopes of winning a not guilty verdict.

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. Taylor

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

Monday, March 16, 2020

DO I STILL NEED TO COME TO COOK COUNTY COURT FOR MY CRIMINAL CASE DURING THE CORONAVIRUS QUARANTINE?

While the Cook County Circuit Court will be primarily closed from March 17, 2020 to April 15, 2020, you may still need to appear on certain criminal matters. Please be aware that the guidelines below may change. The best advice is to check with your attorney before your scheduled court date.

All adult criminal trials scheduled for the next 30 days are postponed and will be rescheduled. The court, however, will still conduct bail hearings, preliminary hearings and arraignments. Since these are the first three proceedings in a felony matter, you will likely need to appear if your felony is new.

The court will also enter plea agreements that conclude a case. A pretrial defendant may also request a bail review.

While high-risk adults on probation must still report to their probation officers, low and medium-risk adults need not meet in person, and a probation officer will contact them about a phone or video conference meeting.

Juvenile defendants in delinquency and criminal proceedings may still demand trial and the court shall still hold detention hearings to determine if a juvenile shall be held in custody while a case is open.

Most matters involving child abuse and neglect will move forward as well as orders of protection on domestic violence matters.

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: Cook County Circuit Court Information Regarding Coronavirus

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

Friday, March 6, 2020

ARE STUN GUNS AND TASERS PROTECTED BY THE SECOND AMENDMENT?

According to the Illinois Supreme Court, the answer is yes.

The court struck down the portion of the Unlawful Use of a Weapon (UUW) law that banned carrying or possessing a stun gun or taser. See People v. Webb.

Under Illinois law, you can be charged with unlawful use of a weapon if you carry a concealed firearm in violation of the Firearm Concealed Carry Act. The Act allows you to carry a concealed firearm if certain conditions are met such as that you possess a valid Firearm Owners Identification card. Under the law, a concealed firearm is defined as “a loaded or unloaded handgun carried on or about a person completely or mostly concealed from view of the public or on or about a person within a vehicle.” A handgun is then defined as “any device which is designed to expel a projectile or projectiles by the action of an explosion, expansion of gas, or escape of gas that is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand.”

A handgun does not include 1) a stun gun or taser, 2) machine gun, 3) short-barreled rifle or shotgun or (4) any pneumatic gun, spring gun, paint ball gun, or B-B gun which expels a single globular projectile not exceeding .18 inch in diameter, or which has a maximum muzzle velocity of less than 700 feet per second, or which expels breakable paint balls containing washable marking colors.

The Illinois Supreme court held that a stun gun or taser cannot be licensed under the FCCA because it is excluded from the definition of handgun, and that such a categorical ban violates the Second Amendment.

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. If you were charged or convicted under a law that was later ruled unconstitutional, an attorney may be able to bring a motion to have the charges dismissed or your conviction vacated.

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

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

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

CAN I BE CHARGED WITH ESCAPE FOR RUNNING FROM POLICE DURING AN ARREST?

You’ve seen the movies. The prisoner busts out of jail and makes a run for it complete with searchlights circling, dogs barking and sirens blaring. Obviously, that sort of escape is a criminal offense.

But what if you simply panicked and ran away from police during an arrest? Under Illinois law, you could be charged if you intentionally escape while in the lawful custody of a peace officer for an alleged offense. If your arrest is for a felony, you can be charged with a Class 2 Felony. If your arrest is for a misdemeanor, the charge can be Class A Escape. If armed with a dangerous weapon, your offense can be upgraded to a Class 1 Felony. (See 720 ILCS 5/31-6). If you are in a penal institution, escape can include failing to report back from a work furlough or day release. You can also be charged with escape for violating a condition of probation or supervision.

In determining whether you were in lawful custody, Illinois courts look at how much control the officer had over you and how much restriction was on your freedom of movement. Merely announcing you are under arrest might not be enough to establish lawful custody. In People v. Garza, however, the court held the defendant was in lawful custody where officers told defendant he was under arrest, stood within two feet of him and escorted him throughout the house after defendant was given permission to put on his clothing and say goodbye to his family, then escorted him down the stairs and through the door.

If you have been charged with escape or a similar crime, 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 in lawful custody at the time? 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.)

Thursday, February 20, 2020

CHILD ENDANGERMENT CAN LEAD TO MORE TROUBLE

You left your baby in the car while you were in the mall running errands. When you came out, a couple police officers had broken your window to check on your now-crying child. In the process, they found illegal medication on the back seat. Now you have been arrested for illegal narcotics and for child endangerment.

Did the police have a right to seize the drugs while dealing with your infant?

Under Illinois law, the answer is probably yes. As long as the officers were legitimately performing their community caretaking function, they need not ignore the evidence in front of them.

In People v. Woods, officers received a tip that the defendant had left her four-month old infant alone in the house. The officers knocked, listened for sounds of distress and peeked in windows to investigate. The officers entered the home after the defendant arrived. They found the infant had been alone and charged defendant with child endangerment. Defendant argued that once she arrived home, the officer’s community caretaking function ended, and thus, there was no need to investigate further. The court disagreed, finding it was reasonable for the officers to want to see that the infant was safe with their own eyes. Further, there was no evidence that the community caretaking function had been used as an excuse for a criminal investigation.

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. Was the seizure of evidence against you justified by the community caretaking function? If not, an attorney may be able to bring a motion to suppress the evidence from your arrest.

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, February 9, 2020

DID YOU INVOKE YOUR RIGHT TO AN ATTORNEY?

If you watch enough police shows, you know all about your right to an attorney when charged with a crime. But to exercise that right, you have to be specific.

Under Illinois law, you must clearly ask police for an attorney so that a reasonable officer under the circumstances would understand your statement to be a request for an attorney. Otherwise, the police can keep questioning you. Although no specific words are required, merely mentioning a lawyer to police is insufficient to stop the interrogation.

Courts have viewed the following language as not sufficient to invoke counsel: 1) “Maybe I should talk to a lawyer.” 2) “Am I going to be able to get a lawyer?” 3) “Do I need a lawyer before we start talking?” and 4) “I can’t ask for a lawyer?”

To protect your Miranda rights, you should say something like: “I invoke my right to remain silent and to have an attorney present,” or “I don’t want to answer any questions, and I want an attorney.”

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 you clearly ask for an attorney? If police continued to question you, your attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress any statements you made as a result.

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

See People v. Brickhouse.

(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 3, 2020

CAN MY FANTASIES OR INTERNET SEARCHES BE USED AGAINST ME IN A SEXUAL ASSAULT CASE?

You have been charged with criminal sexual assault of a minor child. After confiscating your computer, the state found your internet research on child pornography along with some stories you wrote. Can the state use these searches and stories to convict you?

Quite possibly. But like so much of law, it depends on the judge. The court could find your writings and/or your internet searches are relevant to show your intent to commit the crime.

Under the Illinois Rules of Evidence, your past acts are generally not admissible to prove you have bad character and thus, are more likely to commit a crime. However, such evidence can be used to show intent as well as motive, opportunity, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity or absence of mistake or accident. If your writings fall within one of those categories, they could be admitted.

In People v. Ressa, the defendant was convicted of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and child abduction. Both offenses require the state to prove intent. The trial court admitted into evidence “defendant’s delusional and fantastical writings, online searches relating to well-known cases involving children who had been murdered and sexually molested, and other items relating to children.” The court said this evidence was relevant to show whether the defendant touched the children for purposes of sexual gratification.

If you are charged with sexual assault or a similar crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. As the court above noted, the trial judge must decide whether to admit such evidence on a case-by-case basis. An experienced attorney may be able to persuade the court that such evidence should be kept out at trial.

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 22, 2020

WHEN CAN A COURT DISMISS MY CRIMINAL CASE?

Criminal cases do not routinely get thrown out of court short of a plea agreement or trial. But the court can dismiss your case if it meets certain criteria.

A court may dismiss a case on any of the following bases:

  1. Your case did not go to trial within the time limits of the speedy trial act.
  2. Prosecution is barred by double jeopardy.
  3. You received immunity from prosecution.
  4. You were indicted by a grand jury that was not properly selected or certified, resulting in substantial injustice to you.
  5. The court does not have jurisdiction or the county is an improper place of trial.
  6. The charge against you does not state an offense. For example, the indictment omits an element of the offense charged.
  7. The indictment against you is based on testimony from an incompetent witness, for example, the witness is mentally ill.
  8. You are incorrectly named resulting in substantial injustice to you.
  9. Bail was not set or you were not indicted by a grand jury within certain time limits.

Apart from the above statutory grounds, the court may dismiss a case where there is a clear denial of due process which prejudices you. (See People v. Atchison and People v. Lopez.) Be aware, however, that whether a judge thinks your case meets the legal grounds for dismissal can be very fact specific and opinions can differ widely between judges. Therefore, an attorney who knows the courthouse may be better able to present your case in its most favorable light before your particular judge.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. If your case meets one of the above criteria, an attorney may be able bring a motion before the court seeking dismissal.

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 5/114-1.

(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, January 10, 2020

ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS “REVENGE PORN” STATUTE

The Illinois “Revenge Porn” statute does not require a vengeful intent, and the Illinois Supreme Court has said that is OK. In a recent decision, the court concluded the statute did not violate the First Amendment by unduly restricting free speech.

Under the law, it is a Class 4 felony to intentionally disseminate an identifiable image of another person over age 18 involved in a sex act or whose intimate parts are exposed where the image was obtained under circumstances in which a reasonable person would understand the image was to remain private and should know that the person in the image did not consent to the dissemination. See 720 ILCS 5/11-23.5.

An “image” includes photographs, films, videotape, digital recordings or other depictions of an object, including a human body. “Intimate parts” is defined as “the fully unclothed, partially unclothed or transparently clothed genitals, pubic area, anus, or if the person is female, a partially or fully exposed nipple including exposure through transparent clothing.” Under the law, sharing a nude drawing could potentially become a Class 4 felony.

The law contains certain exceptions such as if the image was disseminated: 1) for purposes of a criminal investigation, 2) for reporting unlawful conduct, 3) where the images involve voluntary exposure for commercial purposes or 4) for some other lawful purpose.

In People v. Austin, the defendant discovered the victim’s texts and nude photos on her fiancé’s phone. The defendant broke off her engagement. Her ex-fiancé then told friends and family that she was crazy. In response, the defendant wrote a letter explaining her side of the story and including four pictures of the naked victim. Because the Illinois law does not contain a mental intent element, it does not require a vengeful motive. In this case, the defendant was convicted for essentially defending herself against her fiancé’s statements. Nevertheless, the Court reasoned that the statute did not restrict speech of public concern, and thus did not violate the First Amendment nor due process.

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. As with most crimes, the state must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Did you have reason to believe that the image was intended to remain private or that the victim had not consented to its dissemination? 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.)

Thursday, January 2, 2020

THE CRIME OF DEFACING A WEAPON IN ILLINOIS

Defacing a firearm in Illinois is serious business.

If you knowingly or intentionally changed, removed or obliterated the name of the importer's or manufacturer's serial number from any firearm, you can be charged with a Class 2 felony.

Simply possessing a firearm where the serial number has been changed or removed is a Class 3 felony. See 720 ILC 5/24-5. To convict you for possession, the State need only prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly possessed a firearm which was defaced. The state need not show that you knew the weapon was defaced.

The law exempts people who repair or replace parts on guns if they remove marks other than the serial number. The state has six years to bring charges against you for defacing or possessing a defaced gun.

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 search the premises where they found the defaced weapon? Can the state prove that you knowingly possessed the gun? 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.

Source: People v Lee

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

Monday, December 16, 2019

WHAT IS OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE IN ILLINOIS?

Two officers were chasing a suspect down an alley. The suspect happens to be your cousin. The officers asked you which way you he ran and you pointed them in the opposite direction.

Can you be charged with a crime? The answer is yes.

In Illinois, you can be charged with Obstructing Justice if you intend to prevent the apprehension or obstruct the prosecution or defense of any person (including yourself), and you knowingly:

  1. Destroy, alter, conceal or disguise physical evidence, plant false evidence, furnish false information;
  2. Induce a witness having knowledge material to the subject at issue to leave the State or conceal him or herself;
  3. Leave the State or conceal yourself when you possess knowledge material to the subject at issue;
  4. or
  5. Provide false information to officials during the investigation of the death or disappearance of a child and you are a parent, legal guardian, or caretaker of that child who is under 13 years of age.

Illinois appellate courts are divided on whether the law requires that providing false information result in a material impediment to the administration of justice. The Fifth District Court of Appeals says it does not, but the Second District says that it does. See People v. Casler, People v. Gordon and People V. Taylor. The defendants in all three cases gave false names to police.

Obstructing justice is a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 4 years in prison. If the obstruction is intended to further street gang-related activity, you may be instead charged with a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years in prison.

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.)

Monday, December 9, 2019

VIOLATING AN ORDER OF PROTECTION IN ILLINOIS

Your ex-spouse has an order of protection against you. You thought it was still okay to call her best friend, but now the police have arrested you for violating the order.

What is the law? What can you do?

You can be charged with violating an order of protection if you 1) knowingly commit an act prohibited by the order or fail to commit an act ordered by the order, and 2) you have been served notice or have actual knowledge of the contents of the order. To avoid trouble, you should read any order carefully and err widely on the side of caution before doing anything that could possibly fall within its terms.

For example in People v. Nelson, an order of protection barred the defendant from sending mail to his infant daughter’s mother. The defendant attempted to evade the order by addressing letters to his daughter. The letters, however, discussed subjects such as the couple’s sex life and the mother’s drug use. The court found the letters were intended for the mother so that the defendant had violated the order. For one thing, the infant daughter could not read. As a result, the defendant was sentenced to six years in prison.

In People v. Mortensen, the defendant violated an order by placing flowers and cupcakes on his estranged wife’s doorstep. The order had required defendant to stay 1000 feet from her residence. The court rejected defendant’s argument that this provision only applied when his wife was at home.

If you have been charged with violating an order of protection or similar crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Were you properly served with the order? If not, did you know about it? Did you knowingly commit the act that violated it? Through a careful reading of the order, an attorney may be able to make a good faith argument that your actions fell outside the order’s terms.

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

See Violation of an Order of Protection.

(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 22, 2019

CAN MY OUT-OF-STATE CONVICTION BE USED AS A PRIOR OFFENSE IN MY ILLINOIS CRIMINAL CASE?

The police arrested you for a felony in Illinois. The prosecution wants to use your prior conviction in another state to upgrade your charges or increase your sentence. Can they do that?

The answer depends on the specific law involved. An Illinois criminal or DUI statute may refer to whether you have been convicted under the laws of Illinois or any other jurisdiction. A court must look at your prior offense in the other state and compare it to the language of the charges against you.

In People v. Schultz, the court examined whether a defendant’s two Michigan convictions were forcible felonies for sentencing purposes in Illinois. Defendant was charged in Illinois with unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon. In Michigan, he was convicted for assault with a dangerous weapon. First, the court looked at whether “assault with a dangerous weapon,” was specifically listed under the Illinois definition of “forcible felony.” The court found it was not. However, the Illinois definition further included “any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.” The court then examined the elements of the Michigan crimes to determine whether the use or threat of force was necessarily involved. The court found that it was. As a result, the defendant was sentenced as a Class 2 rather than Class 3 offender.

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 your prior offense truly falls within the charges against you? An experienced attorney may be able to find a weakness in the law. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you 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, November 18, 2019

CAN THEY PROVE I HAD A GUN?

After a car accident, you and the other driver started argueing. You grabbed your cell phone, but the other driver told police you had a gun. You did have a gun in your glove compartment, but you never removed it. Now you are charged with unlawful use of a weapon.

Is the other driver’s testimony enough to convict you? An Illinois court says not necessarily.

In People v. McLaurin, an officer testified that she saw the defendant, a convicted felon, carrying what appeared to be a silver handgun when leaving an apartment building. The officer could not describe the gun or say whether it was a revolver or semi-automatic. A gun was later found under a nearby vehicle.

The court held that where the sole basis of an offense is possession of a firearm, possession of that gun cannot be inferred from circumstantial evidence. Rather, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant possessed a firearm as defined under Illinois law. The state failed to prove that the officer had in fact seen a firearm, and thus defendant’s conviction was overturned.

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. As with most crimes, the state must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. An attorney can probe for weaknesses in the state’s evidence: Can the witness see well? How far away was the supposed weapon? Can the witness describe what they saw? 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, November 15, 2019

WHAT IS AGGRAVATED CRIMINAL SEXUAL ABUSE IN ILLINOIS?

In Illinois, a charge of criminal sexual abuse can be upgraded to a Class 2 felony if during the offense:
  1. You use a dangerous weapon or other object such that the victim reasonably believes you have a dangerous weapon;
  2. You cause the victim bodily harm;,/li>
  3. The victim is age 60 or older or has a physical disability or severe intellectual disability;
  4. You threaten or endanger the victim or some other person’s life;
  5. The sexual conduct is committed during the course of any other felony;
  6. You drugged the victim without their consent or by threat or deception;
  7. You committed a sex act with a family member under age 18;
  8. You are at least 17 and the victim is under age 13 or you used or threaten force on a victim who is at least 13 but under age 17;
  9. You are under age 17 and the victim is under age 9 or you use force or threaten force on a victim who is at least age 9 but under age 17;
  10. The victim is at least 13 but under age 18 and you are over age 17 and hold a position of trust or supervision such as a teacher or security guard.

See 720 ILCS 5/11-1.60 Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse.

If you have been charged with a sexual 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 underlying sexual offense as well as any aggravating factors beyond a reasonable doubt. Can the state accurately identify you? How reliable is the witness’s recollection of events? Is there any possibility you were falsely accused? Was the evidence against you properly handled? 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, November 1, 2019

CAN POLICE USE A DOG TO SEARCH OUTSIDE MY MOTEL ROOM WITHOUT A WARRANT?

You are staying at a motel. You heard some people with a dog outside your room, but you thought nothing of it. A little while later, the police were at your door with a warrant. The dog you heard earlier was part of the canine unit, and now police want to search your room.

Can they do that? What can you do?

The Fourth Amendment of the constitution guarantees you the right to be free of unreasonable searches or seizures. The police need probable cause or a warrant to perform a search although there are some exceptions. When you are in a hotel or motel, you have the same expectation of privacy in your room as you would have in your own home. Therefore, the police must obtain a warrant in order to search. While you have less expectation of privacy in the hallway outside your hotel room than you would outside your apartment or home, police may still need to obtain a warrant.

For example, in People v. Lindsey, police used a dog to sniff the door handle and seams of defendant’s motel room. The dog alerted police to the presence of heroin, and the police returned with a warrant. The court found the dog sniff violated the Fourth Amendment and overturned defendant’s conviction.

If you are the subject of an unlawful search, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the evidence found in the search. The results of an illegal search are known as “fruit of the poisoned tree.” If police have no other basis for your arrest, your case could be dismissed.

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, October 25, 2019

THE CRIME OF IDENTITY THEFT IN ILLINOIS

Illinois law prohibits several types of identity theft. Perhaps the most basic definition is where you knowingly used the personal identifying information or documents of another person to fraudulently obtain credit, money, goods, services or other property or to commit a felony. (See 720 ILCS 5/16-30).

A key element to the offense is the word “knowingly.” To convict you, the state must prove that you actually knew the information or documents you used belonged to another person.

For example, in People v. Fort, the defendant used a credit profile number (CPN) that he had purchased from a website. CPNs can be used to establish alternative credit. This CPN, however, was the social security number of an actual person. As a result, defendant was convicted of identity theft. The court, however, reversed defendant’s conviction because the state had failed to prove that defendant actually knew the CPN belonged to someone else.

Other identity theft offenses under Illinois law include: 1) possessing, selling, buying or manufacturing personal identification while knowing the documents were stolen or with intent to commit a felony; 2) possessing or dealing in document-making implements knowing they will be used to commit a felony; 3) using documents to falsely impersonate another or gain access to their information without their permission; or 4) using a radio frequency identification device capable of obtaining personal identifying information from a radio frequency identification tag or transponder with the knowledge that the device will be used to commit a felony.

If you are applying for a building permit, you may not provide the license number for a roofing or fire sprinkler contractor who you do not intend to use unless you promptly inform the municipality of the change in contractor.

You commit aggravated identity theft if your victim is above age 59 or is disabled or if your actions are intended to further the activities of an organized gang.

If you have been charged with identity theft or a similar crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. As with most offenses, the state must prove all the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Can they prove you knew the documents belonged to someone else or that you knew they would be used to commit a felony?

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 11, 2019

CAN EVIDENCE THAT AN OFFICER SAID “FELL OUT OF MY POCKET” BE USED AGAINST ME?

You were walking through a back alley when the police officer stopped you. In the police report, the officer claims that a packet of drugs or an illegal weapon simply fell out of your pocket. That simply didn’t happen, but this is still the basis for your arrest.

Can the officer get away with that?

The answer depends on how the court views the phenomena known as “dropsy” testimony.

“Dropsy” cases are those where an officer falsely testifies that a defendant dropped contraband in plain view “to avoid the exclusion of evidence on fourth-amendment grounds.” In New York, the problem became known as “testilying.” In these cases, it can be the officer’s word against the defendant’s.

When dealing with “dropsy” testimony, some courts refuse to admit it is a problem while others reject all “dropsy” testimony as a matter of law. Most courts, however, evaluate the credibility of the officer’s testimony in each case. Would the officer’s stop or search of the defendant violate the Fourth Amendment if the defendant hadn’t “dropped” the evidence in plain sight? If not, the officer’s testimony is more credible because the officer has nothing to gain by lying. If, yes, the officer’s incentive to lie to avoid suppression of the evidence is higher.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. The outcome of your case can become very fact- and judge-specific. An attorney who is familiar with the courthouse may be in a better position 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.

Source: People v Campbell

(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 27, 2019

CAN I BE CHARGED WITH AGGRAVATED BATTERY IF THE OFFICER IS OFF DUTY?

You picked a fight with the wrong guy--an off duty police officer who was moonlighting as a bouncer at your favorite bar. The charge would have been simple battery if the bouncer hadn’t been a cop, but instead you are charged with aggravated battery. Since the officer was off duty, can you still be convicted?

The answer is yes, provided the officer was performing his official duties. A recent Illinois case has held that preventing a crime, even to himself, falls within an officer’s official duties even if the officer is off work at the time.

In People v. Brewer, the defendant was convicted of first degree murder based on killing an officer in the course of his official duties. In this case, the state sought a higher sentence based on the victim’s status as an officer rather than asking for increased charges. The defendant argued that the officer was merely trying to defend himself as a crime victim and was not acting in the course of his official duties. The court disagreed.

The court held that any action taken by an officer to prevent a crime, including a crime against himself, was taken in the performance of official duties. An officer has the duty to maintain public order wherever he or she may be. The officer’s duties are not limited to a specific time and place. The defendant’s actions toward the officer was the crime which the officer had a duty to prevent.

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 all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? 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 20, 2019

THE CRIME OF UNAUTHORIZED VIDEO RECORDING IN ILLINOIS

In these days of ready access to webcams, cell phones and live video streaming, Illinois law has laid down some limits. Ignoring those limits can cost you criminal charges.

Under 720 ILCS 5/26-4, you may be charged with a misdemeanor or felony if you knowingly make a video or transmit live video of another person without that person’s consent in any of the following places:

(a) In a restroom, tanning bed, tanning salon, locker room, changing room, or hotel bedroom. (It is also illegal to place or cause to be placed a video recording or transmitting device in any of those places. Note that the definition of restroom is not limited to public facilities but includes restrooms in a person’s home).

(b) In another person’s residence without that person’s consent. (The definition of residence includes a rental dwelling but does not include areas to which the general public has access such as halls or stairways. Again, placing a video device in such an area is illegal. In People v. Maillet, the court held that the law applied where defendant recorded another resident in defendant’s own home).

(c) Outside the other person’s residence through use of an audio or video device that records or transmits from a remote location.

(d) Under or through clothing worn by the other person in order to view their body or undergarments.

You may also be charged if you knowingly disseminated or allowed such a video to be disseminated if you knew the video was made in violation of the law.

The law does exempt law enforcement officers, correctional officers and news reporters in certain situations such as where an officer pursues a criminal investigation or a news reporter covers a sports event from the locker room.

If you have been charged with a unauthorized video recording or other 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.)

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

WHAT ARE YOUR CHILD’S RIGHTS WHEN QUESTIONED BY POLICE?

After getting in trouble at school, your minor child was questioned by police. You were not present, and your child was scared and started talking.

What are your child’s rights?

Under 705 ILCS 405/5-401.5, your child’s statement is presumed inadmissible as evidence if an officer or other public official takes your child’s statement during a custodial interrogation without first reading your child his or Miranda rights. The officer must then ask: (A) “Do you want to have a lawyer?” and (B) “Do you want to talk to me?”

Further, any statement your minor child makes as a result of custodial interrogation conducted at a police station or other place of detention is presumed inadmissible as evidence unless the custodial interrogation is electronically recorded, and the recording is substantially accurate and not intentionally altered. Recording is only required for certain offenses such as felonies and misdemeanor sex offenses. An unrecorded statement may still be admitted under certain circumstances, such as when 1) electronic recording was not feasible, 2) your child spontaneously says something that wasn’t responding to a question, or 3) your child asks to talk without being recorded.

A statement made without the above safeguards may become admissible if the state can show by a preponderance of the evidence that the statement was voluntarily given and is reliable based on the totality of the circumstances.

Whether the above safeguards apply may depend on if your child is considered to be “in custody.” The above law defines “in custody” as “any interrogation (i) during which a reasonable person in the subject’s position would consider himself or herself to be in custody and (ii) during which a question is asked that is reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response.”

If your child has been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your child’s case for its best possible defense. Was your child in custody? Did the police follow proper procedures? Can the state prove all the elements of your child’s offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Even if your child’s confession is admissible, an attorney can help protect his or her rights going forward and may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your child’s behalf.

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

See also In re Jose A.

(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 28, 2019

WHEN AM I CONSIDERED UNFIT TO STAND TRIAL IN ILLINOIS?

You must be fit to stand trial before you can be prosecuted. You must also be fit before sentencing or entering a plea agreement. Under Illinois law, you are not considered fit if you cannot assist in your defense or understand the nature and purposes of the proceedings against you because of your mental or physical condition.

If your fitness is in question, your attorney must raise the issue before a plea is entered or before, during or after trial. In other words, you cannot claim you are unfit after you have entered a plea agreement or been sentenced.

If there is bona fide doubt as to your fitness, the court must order a determination of that issue before moving forward with a plea agreement trial or sentencing.

Before trial and at your request, a qualified expert may be appointed to examine you in order to determine whether a bona fide doubt as to your fitness to stand trial may be raised. If there is such a doubt, then the court may order an appropriate examination. However, the order for an examination will not prevent further proceedings in the case from taking place.

When a bonafide doubt as to your fitness has been raised, the state must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that you actually are fit or else the case cannot move forward. The court may also call its own witnesses and conduct its own inquiry.

If you are deemed unfit, the court may rule on any motions where your presence is not essential to fairly determine the issues.

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. If there are questions about your fitness, an attorney can help present them to the 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.

See 725 ILCS 5/104-11 and People v. Westfall.

(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 16, 2019

CAN I BE CONVICTED OF DISORDERLY CONDUCT FOR ASKING A QUESTION?

You were just curious, so you called a government office and started asking questions. You wanted to know how they handle threats involving guns or bombs. Something in the nature of your questions spooked the office manager, and now you have been charged with disorderly conduct.

Were your questions enough to get you convicted? What about freedom of speech? What can you do now?

In Illinois, depending on what you said and how you said it, you could be convicted of disorderly conduct. (See 720 ILCS 5/26-1(a)(1)). To do so, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you “knowingly” committed an act in an unreasonable manner that you knew or should have known would tend to alarm or disturb another so as to cause a breach of the peace. The court looks at the unreasonableness of your conduct and its tendency to disturb. You need not have made overt threats or used abusive language.

In People v. Swenson, the defendant asked a school what would happen if he showed up on campus with a gun, whether the school had bulletproof windows, and how long it would take for police to arrive. Amidst other bizarre comments, the defendant asked the school principal if she was prepared to have the “sacrificial blood of lambs” on her hands. The court held that under the circumstances, defendant clearly exceeded the bounds of reasonableness and that he should have known his conduct would be disturbing. The court also held that the First Amendment did not protect the manner in which defendant expressed himself.

If you have been charged with disorderly conduct or a similar crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? A determination of disorderly conduct is very fact specific. An experienced attorney, who knows the courthouse, may be able to present your facts to a judge 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.)

Friday, August 9, 2019

WILL MY OUTSTANDING COURT FINES KEEP ME FROM EXPUNGING OR SEALING MY CRIMINAL RECORD IN ILLINOIS?

The answer, in most cases, is no.

A change in Illinois law permits you to expunge or seal your criminal record notwithstanding any fines or fees you may owe.

Before you can clear your criminal record, your case must have been terminated. As of August 10, 2018, the definition of termination does not include any outstanding financial obligations. Therefore, the court cannot deny your petition because you owe a court or government imposed debt. Once your record is sealed, the court may still permit access to any records necessary to collect the debt from you.

The court may still deny your petition if you haven’t paid legal restitution to a victim unless that restitution has been converted to a civil judgment.

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: Public Act 100-0776

(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 2, 2019

ILLINOIS COURT FINDS ARREST BASED ON CHICAGO POLICE INVESTIGATIVE ALERT UNCONSTITUTIONAL

Chicago police regulations allow officers to arrest people on the basis of an investigative alert where there is probable cause to believe a suspect has committed a crime. But a recent Illinois court has now ruled this practice unconstitutional.

In People v. Bass, the defendant allegedly molested a minor. Chicago police issued an investigative alert but did not apply for an arrest warrant. Three weeks later, police pulled defendant over, ran a name check then arrested him based on the alert.

The court held the arrest illegal because an investigative alert allows a police supervisor—rather than a judge--to determine probable cause. The court reasoned that the Illinois constitution goes “a step beyond” the U.S. Constitution in requiring a warrant in these circumstances before a valid arrest can be made.

Although the arrest was illegal, the court sent the case back for a new trial because there was sufficient other evidence to convict defendant.

The court noted that only the Chicago Police Department appears to use investigative alerts (also called "stop orders”). By striking the practice, Chicago Police would be put on an equal footing with other police departments, the court said.

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 follow proper procedure to arrest you? 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.)

Thursday, July 18, 2019

CAN POLICE SEARCH THE HALLWAY OF YOUR APARTMENT BUILDING?

The Fourth Amendment guarantees citizens the right to be free from unlawful searches. Therefore, an officer cannot enter your home without a warrant unless some exception to the warrant requirement—such as consent—exists.

Court have also recognized that a certain area around your home, known as the curtilage, is protected from police intrusion. Your front porch would be one example but what about the hallway of an unlocked apartment building? An Illinois court says yes.

In People v Bonilla, an officer used a narcotics dog to sniff the hallway outside defendant’s apartment. The court held that the police officer’s actions constituted a search under the fourth amendment even though defendant’s apartment building was unlocked and unsecured. The court reasoned that a person who lived in an unlocked apartment building was not entitled to less protection than a person who lived in a locked apartment building. At the heart of the fourth amendment is a person’s right to retreat into his or her own home and be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion. The fourth amendment does not differentiate as to the type of home involved.

The defendant may have lacked a reasonable expectation of complete privacy in the hallway or an absolute right to exclude all others from it. But this did not mean that police could use sensitive devices or a trained drug-detection dog directly in front of his apartment door.

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. Were police searching somewhere they had no right to be? Even if the police acted legally 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.

(The Illinois Supreme Court upheld the above decision on appeal in People v. Bonilla).

(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 12, 2019

ILLINOIS ACCOMODATION FOR DEAF PRISONERS

For the deaf, imprisonment can be especially isolating and punitive. Inmates may literally have no one to talk to. As a result of a federal class action law suit, Illinois agreed to accommodate prisoners with hearing disabilities.

Among its terms, the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) will begin screen for hearing loss, create a centralized database on inmates with hearing disabilities and provide a specialist to assess an inmate’s need for services. IDOC must keep a ready supply of hearing aid batteries. IDOC must also make certain technologies available, such as amplified telephones and a teletypewriter.

IDOC audio-visual media such as televisions and movies must have open and closed captioning. Hearing impaired inmates may choose headphones that prevent them from disturbing other inmates.

IDOC must adopt visual and tactile alert notifications. Such notices may be used to inform inmates of mealtime, visitors, medical appointments, evacuations and emergencies.

Handcuffs may be removed to allow a prisoner to communicate through American Sign Language. Hearing impaired prisoners must have equal job opportunities.

The settlement may be viewed at uplc.chicagoorg

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 all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Even if 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.)

Monday, July 1, 2019

CAN YOU BE CHARGED WITH UNLAWFUL USE OF A WEAPON WHEN YOU ACTED IN SELF DEFENSE?

You were visiting family when things got crazy. One drunken relative started beating their spouse so you grabbed the family gun to put a stop to it. But since you didn’t have a gun license, the police arrested you on a weapons charge.

Can they do that if you were just trying to protect yourself? Depending on the facts, a recent Illinois court said no.

You may be charged with Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon if you (1) knowingly carried or concealed on your person an uncased and loaded pistol, (2) at a time when you were not on your own land, in your own abode, or in a fixed place of business, or you were on public land, (3) that pistol was immediately accessible when you carried it, and (4) you did not have a Firearm Owner’s Identification card or concealed carry license.

On the other hand, you may be acting in self defense or defense of another if (1) unlawful force is threatened against a person, (2) the person threatened was not the aggressor, (3) the danger of harm was imminent, (4) the use of force (by the threatened person) was necessary, (5) the person threatened actually and subjectively believed a danger existed that required the use of force applied, and (6) the beliefs of the person threatened were objectively reasonable.

In People v. Crowder, the court held that self defense could be a defense to a weapons charge: In that case, three men knocked down the defendant’s father and threatened to kill him. Defendant grabbed the gun from his father’s holster to protect both his father and himself. The court reversed his conviction based on necessity or self defense.

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. 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, June 3, 2019

CAN I SHOW MY TATTOOS AT TRIAL WITHOUT HAVING TO TESTIFY?

Let’s say you have been arrested based on an eye witness’s identification. The witness, however, is mistaken, and you can prove it by showing that you have physical characteristics missing from the witness’s description. For a number of reasons, your lawyer does not want you to testify on your own behalf. Can you show your physical characteristics without taking the stand?

A recent Illinois court decision says that you can—provided you can lay the foundation necessary to admit the characteristic into evidence.

In People v. Gonzalez, the defendant was linked to a murder based solely on eyewitness identification. The witnesses, however, did not mention the tattoos on defendant’s hands. The defendant wanted to show his tattoos at trial. The court denied his request reasoning that the state would be unable to cross-examine defendant as to when he had obtained the tattoos.

The appellate court disagreed. Physical characteristics are not testimonial and therefore do not raise the right to cross-examine. In fact, the state can force a defendant to show tattoos without violating the defendant’s right against self-incrimination. Foundation on the timing of the tattoos could instead be laid by a tattoo parlor receipt or by testimony from other witnesses who could then be cross-examined. Therefore, a defendant can show his tattoos without testifying.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can help present the facts of your case for your best possible defense. Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Can you present evidence in your defense without having to testify? 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, May 27, 2019

CAN YOU SUPPRESS INCRIMINATING STATEMENTS MADE AT AN ARREST?

When the police came after you, you said some foolish things that you wish you could take back. Is there a way?

The answer may turn on the exact moment you were legally under arrest.

Generally, you are under arrest if a reasonable person in your shoes would feel they were not free to leave. If you could have walked away but didn’t, your statements may be used against you. If a reasonable person would not feel free to leave and no Miranda warnings were given, an attorney may be able to ask the court to suppress your statements.

To determine when you are under arrest, Illinois courts have weighed the following factors: 1) the threatening presence of several officers, 2) some physical touching of your person, 3) the use of language or tone of voice indicating that you may be compelled to comply with the officer’s request, 4) the time, place, length, mood, and mode of the encounter between you and police, 5) any indication of formal arrest or restraint such as the use of handcuffs or display of weapons, 6) the officers’ intent, 7) your subjective belief or understanding, 8) whether you were told you could refuse to accompany police or that you were free to leave, 9) whether you were transported in a police car, 10) whether you were told you were under arrest, and 11) the language officers used.

For example, in People v Gutierrez, the court found that the defendant’s actual arrest occurred in defendant’s home rather than at the police station. Six to ten armed officers had arrived at defendant’s home awakening him at 5 a.m. Officers searched defendant’s bedroom. Defendant was never told he was free to leave. Finally, defendant was handcuffed and transported in a police car, although this was not necessary to ensure the safety of the officers or investigation. Therefore, a reasonable person would not have felt free to leave. Because defendant’s arrest had been illegal, his statements could not be used unless the prosecution could otherwise show that the statements did not stem from the illegal arrest.

If you are charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can evaluate your case for its best possible defense. If officers lacked probable cause to arrest you or failed to read your Miranda warnings, an attorney may petition the court to dismiss the evidence against you. Even if officers 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.

(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, May 10, 2019

CAN YOUR SPOUSE BE FORCED TO TESTIFY AGAINST YOU IN ILLINOIS?

You’ve seen the movie. The leading man’s girl knows too much about the crime. The solution: Get married! Then, she can’t be forced to testify.

But is that how it works in real life? For the most part, the answer is yes. But there are exceptions.

Under 725 ILCS 5/115-16, spouses may testify against each other but not as to any communications made between them during their marriage. For the marital privilege to apply, the communicating spouse must intend to convey a confidential message made in reliance on the confidence of the marital relationship.

The marital privilege does have limits. The communication must be confidential. It is not confidential if the communication is made before a third party. The third party may testify about what you said even if the third party was eavesdropping. Likewise, the third party may testify about written marital communications that he or she got through interception, loss or mistaken delivery.

Spouses may be compelled to testify against each other when they are involved in a joint criminal enterprise. As such, Bonnie could be forced to testify against Clyde. Your spouse may also testify if he or she acted as your agent.

Naturally, the privilege does not apply if you commit an offense against your spouse, their property or a minor child in either spouse’s care.

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. Is your spouse a witness in your case? Under the right circumstances, an attorney may be able to petition the court to exclude their testimony.

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

See People v. Gliniewicz.

(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 26, 2019

IS PROTECTING MY PROPERTY A DEFENSE TO DOMESTIC BATTERY?

During a break-up, your now ex-girlfriend refused to give you your I-phone. She taunted you by threatening to drop it into a sink full of water, so you grabbed her and yanked it out of her hand. Now you are charged with domestic battery.

You were just trying to save your phone. Is that a defense?

To convict you of domestic battery in Illinois, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly, without legal justification, made physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with a family or household member. 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2(a)(2). However, you may be justified in using force to defend your property if you reasonably believed that force was necessary to stop another from damaging or criminally interfering with personal property that is lawfully in your possession. 720 ILCS 5/7-3.

Determining whether you are justified in defending your property can be very fact specific and can greatly depend on how your particular judge views the evidence. Therefore, it is important to hire an experienced criminal law attorney who is familiar with the courthouse and can present the facts of your case in their best possible light. Do not try to talk your way out of your situation because you may instead give the state the evidence they need to convict you.

In People v Bausch, the court found a defendant’s use of force was not justified to defend his property where he grabbed his wife on the mere suspicion that the title and keys to his boat were in her purse.

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.)