Wednesday, December 12, 2018

VOLUNTARY INTOXICATION IS NOT A DEFENSE—BUT IT COULD HELP DISPROVE YOUR STATE OF MIND

You had way too much to drink at the bar. Later, you were told you broke some other guy’s ribs in a fight. You are now charged with battery.

Does it matter you were too drunk to know what you were doing?

In Illinois, voluntary intoxication is not a defense. You are still criminally responsible for your conduct. However, some criminal charges require the state to prove a specific mental intent. Your intoxication or drugged state could make such intent harder to prove. Illinois courts have held that a defendant is incapable of forming a specific intent or malice where intoxication is so extreme as to suspend all reasoning.

Involuntary intoxication is another matter. Intoxication may be a defense if someone spiked your drink so that you were deprived of the substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of your conduct or to conform your conduct to the requirements of law.

Some Illinois courts consider battery a specific intent crime. In that case, your intoxication may help your defense. However, the court could infer your mental intent from other circumstances in your case. For example, the court in People v Slabon upheld a verdict of aggravated battery where defendant’s behavior at the scene indicated he was aware of his surroundings and knew what he was doing in spite of his intoxication.

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, November 26, 2018

THE CRIME OF DRUG-INDUCED HOMICIDE IN ILLINOIS

Your friend overdosed on methamphetamine or heroin and died. Worse still, you gave them the drugs. Now you are charged with drug-induced homicide.

What is that offense? What can you do?

In Illinois, you can be charged with drug-induced homicide if you unlawfully deliver a controlled substance to another, and any person's death is caused by the injection, inhalation, absorption, or ingestion of any amount of that controlled substance. (See Illinois Drug Induced Homicide Law).

To prove causation, the state must show that your delivery of the drugs was a contributing cause of the death. Therefore, according to a recent Illinois case, even if the deceased had several drugs in their system, you may still be convicted if your particular drug was in the mix. (See People v Nere).

Drug-induced homicide is a Class X felony, punishable by 15 to 30 years in prison or an extended term of 30 to 60 years.

If you have been charged with drug-induced homicide or a similar crime, 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 you guilty of all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Was the drug a controlled substance? Was your delivery of the drug unlawful? Did your acts actually cause the death? An attorney can probe for weaknesses in the state’s case.

An attorney can also review how the police handled your arrest. Did they have probable cause to arrest you? Was your interrogation properly handled? If not, an attorney may be able to bring a motion to suppress evidence or statements that you made.

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, November 19, 2018

CAN YOU BE CHARGED WITH ARMED VIOLENCE IF YOU THREW THE GUN AWAY BEFORE YOUR ARREST?

Perhaps you were dealing drugs or some other offense. The police arrived, so you started to run. Worried about your gun, you threw it in the dumpster. The police caught up with you, and now you are under arrest.

Can you be charged with armed violence? The answer is yes.

Under Illinois law, you commit armed violence if you commit certain felonies, including possession of drugs with intent to deliver, while armed with a dangerous weapon. The law does not require that you be armed at the time of arrest, just that you had the weapon while you committed the crime.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its possible defense. As with most criminal offenses, the state must prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Can the state prove you were armed during the offense itself? 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.

Source: People v Curry.

(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 9, 2018

DISORDERLY CONDUCT: MAKING THREATS AGAINST A SCHOOL IN ILLINOIS

In these times of highly publicized school shootings, it is no surprise that authorities take any threats against a school extremely seriously. In Illinois, such threats may be charged as disorderly conduct. Under 720 ILCS 5/26-1(a)(3.5), you commit disorderly conduct when you knowingly transmit or cause to be transmitted a threat of destruction of school property, or a threat of violence, death, or bodily harm directed against persons at a school. Such a violation is a Class 4 Felony punishable by one to four years in prison.

In a recent Illinois case, People v. Khan, a defendant posted on Facebook that he brought a gun to his college every day and that someone would anger him and “end up in the bag.” The defendant argued that his statement was ambiguous, and the jury could not find beyond a reasonable doubt that it referred to a violent act. The court disagreed stating the jury was not “required to ignore common sense and defer to the ridiculous.”

If you are charged with disorderly conduct for threatening a school, 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 knowingly making a threat? Maybe you were being ironic? 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.)

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

THE ILLINOIS CYBERSTALKING LAW: DEFENSES TO USE OF A TRACKING SOFTWARE

You didn’t want your ex- to think they could outsmart you. So you placed an electronic tracking device on their phone. In so doing, you have violated the Illinois cyberstalking law, which prohibits knowingly, surreptitiously, and without lawful justification, placing electronic monitoring software on an electronic communication device as a means of harassing another person.

However, you may have a defense. There are two exceptions to this rule:

1) The software installer gave clear notice regarding the use of the specific type of tracking software or spyware in advance to the device’s owner or primary user.

2) You obtained written or electronic consent of all owners and primary users of the device on which the tracking software is installed. However, you must have sought the consent through a mechanism that does not seek to obtain any other approvals from the owner or primary user.

Under the law, an electronic communication device may include a wireless telephone, personal digital assistant, or a portable or mobile computer. Electronic monitoring software means any software or application that surreptitiously tracks computer activity and then records and transmits the information to third parties with the intent to cause injury or harm.

Apart from the above defenses, can the state prove you acted knowingly or that you used the device to harass your ex-?

If you have been charged with cyberstalking, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its possible defense. As with most crimes, the state must prove you guilty of all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Can the state prove your use of the tracking software was surreptitious? 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.

Source: Illinois Cyberstalking Law.

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

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

THE CRIME OF POSSESSING A METHAMPHETAMINE PRECURSOR IN ILLINOIS

Under certain circumstances having a box of Sudafed can turn into a Class 4 felony.

In Illinois, you may not knowingly purchase, receive, own or otherwise possess any product that contains a methamphetamine precursor if you already have been convicted or have received supervision for a methamphetamine offense.

However, there is one exception to this law. You can still get that box of Sudafed if it has been properly prescribed.

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 for the drugs? The state must also prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Can the state prove you had a prior methamphetamine offense? Did you have a valid prescription?

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

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

Source: Methamphetamine and Community Protection Act.

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

Monday, October 8, 2018

THE CRIME OF SEXTING IN ILLINOIS

Texting can be a little too easy and nearly instantaneous. If you are angry or otherwise impaired, there isn’t much standing between you and your own bad judgment. So you hit send on that ill-advised message and the next thing you knew, the police were at your door.

In Illinois, you sext when you send messages or use obscene, lewd or immoral language with the intent to offend by means of the telephone. Your intent to offend can be inferred from your use of obscene, lewd or immoral language. (See Illinois Transmission of Obscene Messages Law).

A first sexting offense is a Class B Misdemeanor. However, later offenses can be charged as a Class A Misdemeanor with a minimum of 14 days in jail. Under certain circumstances, sexting may become a Class 4 felony, for example, if you threatened to kill the victim, you were on probation at the time, or you had 3 or more similar violations within a 10 year period. Further, it is a Class 4 felony if you, as an adult, sext someone under age.

If you have been charged with sexting, 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. Can the state prove that you intended to offend? Was the language you used truly lewd or obscene? Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

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

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

Monday, October 1, 2018

CAN YOUR ROOMMATE LET POLICE SEARCH YOUR HOUSE?

The police came to your home while you were away. Police asked your roommate if they could search your room, and he said, “Sure, why not?” As a result, police found drugs under your mattress. Now you are under arrest.

Is your roommate’s consent to the search legal?

Under the Fourth Amendment, police may not search your home without a warrant unless they have a valid exception such as consent. Consent may be given by someone with either actual or apparent authority. Your roommate has actual authority to allow the police in to the areas that the roommate rents or occupies. But what about your areas? Does your roommate have the apparent authority required to let the police into your room?

Apparent authority exists if the facts available to an officer at the time of a search would allow a person of reasonable caution to believe that the consenting party had authority over the property to be searched. When the consenting party is your spouse, the law presumes that the spouse has authority to allow a search of all areas in your homestead.

In People v Mojica, the defendant’s wife allowed the police to search his detached garage. The defendant argued that no reasonable officer could believe that his wife had apparent authority where she did not have a key and had not entered the garage for some time. The court rejected defendant’s argument. The wife never told police she was denied access to the garage. The officer could reasonably believe that as a spouse, the wife had authority to enter the garage but rarely choose to do so.

In another Illinois case, the defendant’s girlfriend allowed officers to search his coat in a shared closet. The court held that the officers could reasonably believe that the girlfriend had apparent authority to consent. The closet was not locked or private but held the apartment’s washer and dryer and was accessible to all eight residents of the home. (See People v. Burton, 409 Ill. App. 3d 321, 349 Ill. Dec. 829, 947 N.E.2d 843 (2011).)

Illinois courts have rejected apparent authority where a driver consented to the search of a passenger’s purse or where defendant’s social guest gave the consent. (See People v James and People v. Pickens, 275 Ill. App. 3d 108, 211 Ill. Dec. 823, 655 N.E.2d 1206 (1995).)

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. Perhaps the person consenting to the search did not have authority—either actual or apparent—to do so. If so, an attorney can petition the court to suppress the evidence from the search.

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

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

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

Monday, September 24, 2018

DID YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WERE DOING? THE DEFINITION OF INTENTIONAL CONDUCT IN ILLINOIS

If you are charged with a crime, the state must prove all the elements of that crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Most offenses require that you had the mental intent to commit the crime. In other words, you must have acted knowingly.

A recent Illinois case demonstrates how this works. In People v Jackson, the defendant was accused of battery and resisting a peace officer. Both offenses require the state to prove that the defendant acted knowingly. Battery occurs when you knowingly makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with another and without legal justification. (720 ILCS 5/12-3(a)(2).) Resisting a peace officer occurs when you knowingly resist the performance by someone that you know is a peace officer. (720 ILCS 5/31-1(a).)

Illinois law defines “knowingly” to mean that you are consciously aware that your conduct is practically certain to cause a particular result. (720 ILCS 5/4-5(b).) Knowing may be proven by circumstantial evidence and inferred from your actions and the conduct surrounding them.

The defendant in the above case claimed he was having an epileptic seizure. The state’s witnesses testified that the defendant was not behaving normally in that the defendant continued to call 911 even though paramedics and an ambulance were already on the scene.

The defendant did not present evidence as to his mental state at trial. But, the court noted that he did not need to do so. The state had the burden of proof and failed to show the defendant acted knowingly.

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 the offense? 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.)

Friday, September 14, 2018

CHAIN OF CUSTODY IN ILLINOIS

After a search of your home or car, the police find a bag of something illegal. How can you be sure that the bag from your arrest is the same bag produced at trial?

If you watch police shows, you have probably heard the expression “chain of custody.” In order to use evidence against you, the state must demonstrate the chain of custody between the police search and your trial.

For items with unique characteristics that are not easily changed, tampered with or contaminated, the State may simply present testimony that the item is in substantially the same condition as it was when taken. But for items such as narcotics or blood, the state must show that any tampering or accidental substitution was unlikely. Once the state does this, you may challenge the state by showing actual evidence of tampering, alteration, or substitution.

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 the evidence in your case was mishandled, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress it. Even if the police acted properly 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.

Source: People v Trice.

(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, September 9, 2018

WHAT IS DISTURBING THE PEACE UNDER ILLINOIS DISORDERLY CONDUCT LAW?

You were standing on the street yelling obscenities when the police arrived. Is this disorderly conduct under Illinois law? Maybe yes, maybe no. The answer depends on all the facts.

To be convicted of disturbing the peace under the Illinois Disorderly Conduct statute, the State must prove that you knowingly acted in such an unreasonable manner as to alarm or disturb another and to provoke a breach of the peace.

To determine exactly what that all means, a court reviews all the surrounding facts and circumstances of your case. The disorderly conduct law’s main purpose is to guard against molesting or harassing another, either mentally or physically, without justification. Therefore, your conduct must generally threaten another or have an effect on others. There need not be overt threats or abusive language, and your conduct need not be made in public.

In People v Steger, the defendant merely stood for a few minutes outside of his ex-girlfriend’s house. The court found this was enough to convict defendant. The parties had a history of tension involving custody of their minor child. For that reason, custody exchanges took place at a neutral site. Under these circumstances, defendant’s standing across from the victim’s house provoked a breach of the peace.

However, the court did not find disorderly conduct in People v. Bradshaw, where the defendant stood outside a tavern yelling obscenities. Since no one had left the tavern, the court reasoned that defendant did not provoke a breach of the peace.

If you have been accused of disorderly conduct, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Because the definition of disturbing the peace can be so fact specific, it is imperative that you do not try to talk your way out of your situation. You will likely only dig yourself in deeper. An attorney can review the facts to present your defense in its best possible light.

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

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

Monday, August 20, 2018

THE POLICE FORCED ME TO TALK: THE ISSUE OF VOLUNTARY CONFESSIONS IN ILLINOIS

Being taken into police custody is a stressful event--especially when you are suspected of a crime. And the police don’t exactly want to make it comfortable. But when does police pressure cross the line so that the statements you made are no longer voluntary?

The test for voluntariness depends on whether you decided to talk freely without compulsion or inducement or whether your will was overborne at the relevant time. A court will consider all the circumstances surrounding your statements, including your age, intelligence, education, experience, and physical condition, the length of the interrogation, whether you received Miranda warnings, the presence of any physical or mental abuse and the legality and length of your being held in police custody.

In People v Mandoline, the court applied the above factors to determine that a defendant’s statement had been voluntary. The defendant was 23 years old, a high school graduate with some college education who had little experience with law enforcement. While the defendant had had a headache and had drank a considerable amount of beer, he appeared alert and did not seem intoxicated. The three-hour long interrogation was relatively brief as prior Illinois law had held that a 25-hour interrogation did not automatically render a defendant’s statement inadmissible. While the defendant was detained two hours after he requested an attorney, the court reasoned that the police did eventually honor defendant’s right to counsel. Defendant had been given Miranda warnings, and the defendant had not been physically abused in that he had been allowed to use the restroom and take smoking breaks.

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 you improperly pressured into making a confession? Did you have the mental capacity to understand what was happening? An attorney may petition the court to suppress any incriminating statements you may have made. Even if the police acted properly and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the court house may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

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

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

Monday, August 13, 2018

WHAT IS HARRASSMENT UNDER ILLINOIS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAW?

You’ve just received notice that your significant other or spouse has filed for an order of protection against you. The petitioner claims you have harassed him or her.

What exactly does that mean? What can you do to defend yourself?

Under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act, "harassment" is defined as “knowing conduct which is not necessary to accomplish a purpose that is reasonable under the circumstances; would cause a reasonable person emotional distress; and does cause emotional distress to the petitioner.”

Under the statute, the following conduct is presumed to cause emotional distress:

(i) creating a disturbance at petitioner's place of employment or school;

(ii) repeatedly telephoning petitioner's place of employment or residence;

(iii) repeatedly following petitioner about in public;

(iv) repeatedly keeping petitioner under surveillance by remaining present outside his or her home, school, place of employment, vehicle or other place occupied by petitioner or by peering in petitioner's windows;

(v) improperly concealing or removing petitioner’s minor child from petitioner’s care or the jurisdiction or repeatedly threatening to do so unless you were fleeing the threat of domestic violence;

(vi) threatening physical force, confinement or restraint.

If you are served with notice of an order of protection, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Perhaps there were legitimate reasons for your repeated contact with the other party. For example, you might have driven by their home because it was directly on your way to work. If you have been falsely accused, you might convince a judge that there are issues with the credibility of the person accusing you.

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

See our related blog posts here and here.

(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 27, 2018

THE CRIME OF GROOMING IN ILLINOIS

In the internet era, stranger danger is not limited to the streets.

The act of using an electronic transmission device such as the internet to induce the trust of a child under age 17 for sexual purposes is known as “grooming.” Grooming is a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 4 years in prison.

Under Illinois law, a person commits grooming when he or she knowingly attempts to use or uses an on-line, internet or local bulletin board service or any other device with electronic data storage or transmission to solicit, lure or entice a child or their guardian into committing any unlawful sexual conduct.

According to People v Vara, “In the context of sex abuse of a child, grooming is commonly understood as a method of building trust with a child or an adult around the child in an effort to gain access to the child, make the child a cooperative participant in the abuse, and reduce the chance that the abuse is detected or disclosed.”

If you are charged with grooming or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review the options for your best possible defense. As with most other crimes, the state must prove you guilty of all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Can the state prove that you sent the electronic messages? Did the police have probable cause to search you or your computer? Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming and the police acted lawfully, an attorney who is respected at the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

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

See: Illinois Grooming Statute.

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

Friday, July 20, 2018

THE CRIME OF COUNTERFEIT TRADEMARKS IN ILLINOIS

Let’s say you want to sell 100 pairs of blue jeans. Your jeans are from a no-name brand, but if they had a fancy designer label, you know you’d make a lot more money. So you copy a high-end designer’s trademark and print it on your pants. Now you may be in the money, but you’re also in trouble with the law.

The Illinois Counterfeit Trademark Act makes it a Class A Misdemeanor to use, sell or circulate items with a counterfeit trademark or service mark. Even if you haven’t sold the items, you can be charged if you intended to sell and the items are in your possession. The Act also applies to services sold using a counterfeit mark.

Your charges may be upgraded to a felony if you sold more than 100 counterfeit items, had a prior conviction within five years or caused bodily harm as a result of your offense. Besides time in prison, the court may fine you a percentage of the retail value of the counterfeit items.

To convict you, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you (1) knowingly kept or had in your possession (2) with the intent to sell or dispose of (3) any goods or merchandise to which a counterfeit mark was attached, and (4) that you were not the rightful owner of such trademark. A counterfeit mark is one that is likely to cause confusion or mistake or to deceive.

For example, in People v Gueye, the defendant intended to sell handbags with fake Michael Kors, Burberry and Tory Burch trademarks. The State had to show that the marks were affixed to the handbags, and that they were identical to or substantially indistinguishable from the real ones. The court found that the false labels were in fact likely to cause confusion between defendant’s bags and the real thing, and thus upheld defendant’s conviction.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. The Trademark Counterfeit Act has a lot of moving parts. 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.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

ILLINOIS STATE SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN LAW BARRING GUNS WITHIN 1000 FEET OF A PUBLIC PARK OR SCHOOL

Illinois residents cannot be barred from carrying a firearm within 1000 feet of a public park or school, although it is still illegal to carry a gun within a public park.

In People v Chairez, the court held that while the rest of the Illinois Unlawful Use of Weapons law remains constitutional, the section barring weapons within 1000 feet of a park did not pass muster. The court said the ends of protecting the public did not justify the means of banning the guns. Instead, the statue could punish potentially innocent conduct if a defendant unknowingly crossed into a prohibited zone near a park. Most troublesome was the lack of notice as to where the 1000-foot limit began or ended.

Following the above decision, the Appellate Court in People v. Green, struck down sections of the gun law barring possession of a firearm within 1000 feet of a school. In Green, a security guard with a valid FOID card was convicted of unlawful use of a weapon because he was standing with a loaded, accessible firearm across the street from a high school. The court said the state failed to show that limiting guns within 1,000 feet of a school mitigated violence. Again, a lack of notice as to where the 1,000 feet began and ended was problematic.

It is still illegal, however, to carry a gun inside a public park. In People v. Bell, the court said that a public park may be considered a sensitive place, warranting reasonable measures to protect the public especially since large numbers of people, including children, congregate there for recreation.

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. Perhaps the police lacked probable cause to stop you or perhaps the evidence against you was improperly seized. 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.

(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 2, 2018

STALKING THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA IN ILLINOIS

No matter how tempting it may be to strike out at your ex- through seemingly anonymous social media, you could be charged with stalking. In Illinois, stalking through social media can be prosecuted as “monitoring.”

A recent Illinois case illustrates how manipulating social media such as Facebook can run afoul of the law. In People v Gauger, the defendant used Facebook to harass his ex-wife. The ex-wife discovered that defendant had reactivated her old Facebook account when a friend asked if she had sent a new friend request. The ex-wife also received invitations from a third party who had never sent them. Defendant instead had set up a fictitious account using the third party’s name.

The court convicted defendant finding the evidence “overwhelmingly establishes that the defendant directly or indirectly through third parties monitored and communicated to or about Ms. Carswell through his Internet activities.” Because defendant had violated an existing order of protection, his offense was upgraded to aggravated stalking.

The defendant appealed, arguing that the part of the stalking statute dealing with communicating to or about someone had been struck down. The appellate court, however, reasoned that the anti-stalking statute also prohibited monitoring. Monitoring meant watching, keeping track of or checking another, usually for a special purpose. The court said, “Even without the Facebook messages, the evidence showed that defendant created at least one fictitious Facebook account in the name of Carswell’s friend, downloaded pictures of her and her family, and apparently even obtained mail addressed to her.” Defendant’s course of conduct therefore satisfied the definition of monitoring.

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. To prove stalking, the state must show that you knowingly engaged in a course of conduct that you knew or should have known would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her or a third person’s safety or that you caused the victim to suffer other emotional distress. Can the state prove all these elements 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.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

I’VE BEEN FALSELY ACCUSED OF ABUSE UNDER THE ILLINOIS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT. WHAT CAN I DO?

You’ve just been served with notice that your former domestic partner or spouse is seeking an order of protection against you. You believe the charges against you are false and merely designed to harass you.

What can you do?

If you are falsely accused, an attorney may be able to cast doubt on the credibility of the accuser. Are the accusations designed to harass or intimidate you? Is he or she simply being vindictive? There may be other inconsistencies in the evidence. At times, it may be useful to hire a private investigator look into the accuser’s allegations.

If you have received notice of an order of protection, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not try to represent yourself. What you think is a reasonable explanation might convince the judge that you are a threat. The judge may rule against you based on what he or she perceives is a bad attitude or a failure to take responsibility. Be advised that an Order of Protection can have serious consequences as it can keep you out of many jobs, and you cannot get it removed from your record, so it is best to take the matter seriously.

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 11, 2018

WHAT IS “ABUSE” UNDER THE ILLINOIS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT?

You’ve just been served notice that your former partner or spouse is seeking an order of protection against you. They are claiming that you abused them.

How is abuse defined, and what are your options?

Under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act, abuse is defined as “physical abuse, harassment, intimidation of a dependent, interference with personal liberty or willful deprivation but does not include reasonable direction of a minor child by a parent or person in loco parentis.”

If you have been served with notice of hearing on an order of protection, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not try to represent yourself. What you think of as a legitimate explanation might convince the judge that your accuser has reason to be afraid. The judge may rule against you based on what he or she perceives is a bad attitude or a failure to take responsibility.

An experienced criminal law attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Were you acting in self defense? Can you show that your spouse or former partner was making things up? Do they suffer from a mental illness? Be advised that an Order of Protection can have serious consequences as it can keep you out of many jobs, and you cannot get it removed from your record, so it is best to take the matter seriously.

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, June 1, 2018

CAN THE POLICE USE EVERYTHING I TOLD THEM AGAINST ME?

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 when 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 but 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 look at the following factors: 1) the threatening presence of several officers; 2) an officer’s display of a weapon; 3) some physical touching of your person; and 4) the use of language or tone of voice indicating that you may be compelled to comply with the officer’s request. Additionally, Illinois courts look at: 1) the time, place, length, mood, and mode of the encounter between you and police; 2) the number of police officers present; 3) any indication of formal arrest or restraint, such as the use of handcuffs or drawing of guns; 4) the officers’ intent; 5) your subjective belief or understanding; 6) whether you were told you could refuse to accompany police; 7) whether you were transported in a police car; 8) whether you were told you were free to leave; 9) whether you were told you were under arrest; and (10) 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. The court reasoned that six to ten armed officers 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 in the police car, but not for 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 have questions about a criminal case, 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 did not read your Miranda warnings before your arrest, an attorney may be able to petition the court to throw out the evidence against you. Even if the 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.)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

NEW CYBERSTALKING LAW IN ILLINOIS

After a court ruled that part of the Illinois Cyberstalking law was unconstitutional, the legislature updated the law.

Under the new law, you commit cyberstalking when you knowingly, surreptitiously, and without lawful justification, place tracking software on an electronic communication device as a means of harassing another person. You must have threatened the other person or their family with immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement or restraint. This offense also applies if you simply caused a reasonable fear of such harm.

As under the prior law, it is cyberstalking if you used electronic communications:

1) Directed at a specific person, that you knew or should have known would cause a reasonable person to fear for their or a third person’s safety or suffer other emotional distress.

2)Knowingly and without lawful justification at least twice to harass another person, and you transmitted a threat directed to that person or their family of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement, or restraint, or you caused the other person or their family to fear such harm.

You may be charged with cyberstalking even if you had a third party make the threats for you, or you posted the threats on an internet website that was accessible to third parties for at least 24 hours.

Cyberstalking is a Class 4 felony (1 to 3 years in prison) for a first offense and a Class 3 felony for later offenses (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. As with most crimes, the state must prove you guilty of all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Can the state prove you committed the offense knowingly? Was the tracking software already installed in the electronic communication device by the manufacturer? 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.

Source: Illinois Cyberstalking Law.

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

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

CYBERSTALKING AND SEXTING CAN BECOME A HATE CRIME IN ILLINOIS

As of January 1, 2018, sexting or cyberstalking can take on an added dimension. The Illinois Hate Crime statute now includes intimidation, stalking, cyberstalking and transmitting obscene messages within the offense.

To be convicted of a hate crime on this basis, you must have intimidated, sexted, stalked or cyberstalked the other person because of their actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability or national origin.

Generally, hate crime is a Class 4 felony for the first offense, punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison, but bumps up to a Class 2 felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years, for later offenses. Hate crime becomes a Class 3 felony (2 to 5 years) for a first offense if the crime is committed at a church, cemetery, school or public park.

Besides criminal penalties, the victim of a hate crime may sue you in civil court. Therefore, it is particularly important to be careful in handling your criminal case because the facts of the criminal case could be used against you in a civil suit.

If you have been charged with a sexting, cyberstalking or a hate crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. As with most criminal offenses, the state has to prove you guilty of all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Can the state prove your motivation?

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 Illinois Hate Crime statute,

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

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

SCHOOL RESIDENCY FRAUD CAN BE CHARGED AS A FELONY

Understandably, you would like your child to get the best education in the best school district, but perhaps you can’t really afford to live there. You may be tempted to lie about your child’s real home in order to enroll them in that preferred school. But depending on the circumstances and the school district, you could end up charged with a felony.

In February, 2018, Orland School District 135 pressed felony charges against a mother who provided an allegedly fraudulent lease for a home in District 135. The home was actually a retail establishment. After questioning, the mother continued to provide allegedly fake documents, leading to her arrest for felony forgery. (See Woman Charged with Forgery after Giving School False Address).

Most school districts do not carry matters quite so far. They may simply disenroll your child and bill you several thousand dollars in tuition. However, the option of pressing criminal charges for at least a Class C Misdemeanor is always possible.

If you receive notice from your child’s school questioning their residency, contact an experienced school law attorney immediately. Many parents make the mistake of trying to handle the situation themselves, but they are often unprepared for what they are walking into. By the time, they call an attorney, the facts of the case have already been established and the attorney’s hands may be tied. Furthermore, once a school believes you are lying, it is very difficult to convince them otherwise. Your words are often twisted against you.

An attorney can review your situation to see if you have a genuine claim to residency. If so, the attorney can present evidence to the school accordingly. Even if your child is not a legal resident, an attorney may be able to negotiate an agreement that allows you to leave the school district without facing criminal charges or possibly paying tuition.

If you have questions about Illinois school residency, 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, April 12, 2018

CAN YOU USE SELF-DEFENSE AGAINST A POLICE OFFICER IN ILLINOIS?

You believe the police had no justifiable basis to stop you, and you may be right. Nevertheless, you must still obey police orders, and you cannot physically resist the arrest.

But what if the officer physically threatens you? Can you defend yourself?

Under Illinois law, an arresting officer may generally use any force reasonably necessary to arrest you. (See 720 ILCS 5/7-5(a)). You, on the other hand, may not use force to resist arrest by a known police officer, even if your arrest is unlawful. (See 720 ILCS 5/7-7). So, if the officer tells you to put your hands behind your back, you have to put your hands behind your back even if you know you are being targeted for no good reason.

However, once an officer uses excessive force, you may then have the legal right to forcibly resist arrest and defend yourself. (See 720 ILCS 5/7-1(a)). You are justified in using force against the officer to the extent that you reasonably believe force is necessary to defend yourself or a third person against the officer’s imminent use of unlawful force.

Whether you were justified in defending yourself is a very fact-specific question. Different judges may interpret your fact situation in different ways. That is why it is important that any attorney you select be familiar with the judges in your jurisdiction.

In one Illinois case, the defendant cooperated with police until an officer put his hands on the defendant’s girlfriend who was holding their baby. The defendant called the officer a name and told him not to touch his girlfriend. The officer then beat the defendant. The Court held that the defendant forcibly resisted arrest only after officers applied excessive force. (People v Sims, 374 Ill. App. 3d 427 (2007).

In People v. Brown, the defendant testified that he did not know the police who pulled up in front of him were officers. When the officers pulled weapons, the defendant tried to run. One officer tackled, punched and choked defendant. Defendant claimed he resisted arrest in response to such violence. Based on this testimony, the court held there was sufficient evidence of excessive force to send the issue to the jury.

If you have been charged with an Illinois offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Did you know you were dealing with police? Did the police use excessive force? If the police acted unlawfully, an attorney may be able to bring a motion to suppress 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, April 1, 2018

THE CRIME OF ABDUCTING YOUR OWN CHILD IN ILLINOIS

You think your child’s other parent is a horrible person. As a result, you want to protect him or her from that parent. Maybe you sent your child out of state or hid them when the other parent came to visit. Under these circumstances, however, you may be charged with child abduction—even though the child is your own.

The crime of child abduction by a parent is a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison. Child abduction can include intentionally violating a custody order by concealing or detaining the child or taking the child out of the court’s jurisdiction.

While married to the other parent, you may not knowingly hide, keep or remove the child with physical force or its threat. Nor can you do so because someone without legal custody has promised to pay you.

If you have been charged with child abduction or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Even under the above circumstances, there are certain defenses. Perhaps you had legal custody or visitation rights at the time of your violation or perhaps you were fleeing domestic violence.

At times, there may be circumstances beyond your control. If so, you must make reasonable attempts within 24 hours after visitation ends to notify the other parent about those circumstances as well as the child’s whereabouts and how the child can be contacted. You must also return the child as soon as possible.

In one Illinois case, the court overturned the putative father’s conviction because the state did not prove he had taken the child without the mother’s consent. (See People v Cole).

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

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

Saturday, March 24, 2018

WHAT IS A BUILDING UNDER ILLINOIS BURGLARY LAW?

In Illinois, you commit burglary when you knowingly and without authority enter or remain within a building, housetrailer, watercraft, aircraft, motor vehicle railroad car, or any part thereof, with intent to commit a felony or theft. (See Illinois Burglary Statute).

Does a storage trailer fit the above categories? An Illinois Appellate Court says it does. In People v Harris, the defendant entered a 36-foot long enclosed trailer that the owner kept on a leased space in an open parking lot. Defendant argued that the trailer was not a building because it was not a permanent structure. The court rejected this argument stating that the law intended to protect the security of a wide variety of structures. The structure was not required to be permanent. Even a tent could fall under the law’s protection.

If you have been charged with burglary or another 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 you guilty on all elements beyond a reasonable doubt. While you may have entered a building within the meaning of the law, perhaps you did it unknowingly or you had authorization.

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 16, 2018

ILLINOIS AGGRAVATED UNLAWFUL USE OF A WEAPON BASED ON INVALID FOID CARD

If you are anywhere near a gun, possessing a valid Firearms Owner Identification Card can spell the difference between a clean record and big trouble.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down gun control in District of Columbia v. Heller. Since then, many a state’s gun laws have fallen by the wayside. Even so, you must still possess a valid Illinois FOID card. If you are caught near a gun without one, you could face serious charges.

In a recent Illinois decision, police were responding to an alert of “shots fired” when they spotted a speeding car in which defendant was a passenger. Police found a gun in plain sight near the defendant’s feet. Although the gun was not tested for fingerprints and the serial number was not linked to defendant, he was convicted of Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon and sentenced to three years in prison based on his failure to possess a valid FOID card. See People v Irwin.

If you are facing aggravated firearm charges, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. If the police search was illegal, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the resulting evidence even if you didn’t have a valid FOID card. Furthermore, the state still has the burden of proving you guilty of each element of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Does the state have the evidence they need? Even if the police acted lawfully and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected at the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you 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, March 5, 2018

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A FELONY AND A MISDEMEANOR?

The primary difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is the severity of the penalties as well as the impact a conviction may have on your future. The charging document should tell you which one you are facing.

Misdemeanors range from Class C to Class A. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in county jail. Class B and Class C carry much shorter potential jail terms.

Felonies, on the other hand, range in severity from Class 4 to Class X. While a Class 4 felony is punishable by 1 to 3 years in state prison, a Class X can receive 6 to 30 years.

If charged with a felony, you will almost certainly be held overnight for a bond hearing the next day. A judge will then set bond after hearing the state's evidence regarding your criminal history. An experienced criminal defense attorney can instead present reasons why the judge should reduce your bond. With a misdemeanor, the police will frequently allow you to leave the station on your own recognizance.

In terms of your future, a felony conviction may render you automatically ineligible for employment with many business or government employers. Employers are more likely to overlook a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is also more likely to qualify for expungement, which means you may get a clean slate. (Please note that many felonies may now be sealed, in which case your criminal record should only be available to police agencies).

When you are arrested, a police officer issues a ticket or ciminal complaint. While you may initially be charged with a misdemeanor, the state may elect to upgrade your offense to a felony. This will not necessarily happen on the day of your arrest. After reviewing the evidence, the state may determine it has the evidence needed to justify a felony. Or the state may upgrade your offense based on your past criminal history. In some cases, defendants with an extensive cminal history may even face a Class X felony even if the original crime was relatively trivial.

If you have been charged with a crime, it is essential to contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Perhaps the police acted improperly so that an attorney may petition the court to suppress the evidence of your crime. Even if the police acted improperly or the evidence against you is overwhelming, an experienced attorney who is respected at the courthouse may be able to negotiate an agreement to reduce your felony or misdemeanor to a lower offense.

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

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

Friday, February 23, 2018

YOUR SPOUSE CAN’T TESTIFY AGAINST YOU EXCEPT IN CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES

You’ve undoubtedly seen TV or movies where the criminal marries so their husband or wife can’t spill the beans. To a certain extent, Illinois evidence rules do recognize a marital privilege. Your spouse cannot be forced to testify against you, but there are exceptions.

Under Illinois law, a husband and wife may testify for or against the other in a criminal case, but they may not testify as to any conversation or admission made by one to the other during their marriage. The marital privilege, however, is suspended when either spouse is charged with a crime against the other’s person or property or where one spouse has abandoned the other. More importantly, a spouse may testify when the interests of their own or another’s children under their care are involved. Furthermore, a spouse may testify when either is charged with an offense involving sexual assault or abuse of any minor child under their care. (See 725 ILCS 5/115-16).

In one Illinois appellate case, the court allowed a husband to tesify about a conversation prior to their daughter’s murder where he had told his wife their marriage was over. The court reasoned that the interests of the couple’s child were directly at stake despite the wife’s argument that the conversation was not directly related to the child’s death and thus should be excluded. (See People v Garner).

The rules of evidence can be tricky and difficult to understand. If you are charged with a criminal case, contact an experienced attorney immediately to help guide you through the judicial process.

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

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

Monday, February 12, 2018

SEARCH INCIDENT TO ARREST: HOW FAR CAN IT GO?

When police arrest you, they are permitted to make a search incident to the arrest. But the search must still be within certain limits.

How far a search may go is fact specific, and different judges may see the circumstances differently. Generally, subject to certain exceptions, an officer may search for weapons in the area within a defendant’s reach to ensure the officer’s safety. The officer may also search the defendant’s person to prevent destruction of the evidence. A warrantless search incident to arrest may be performed even if the defendant is in handcuffs.

Illinois cases have permitted a search under a bed or in a pile of clothes within the defendant’s immediate control. However, the Illinois Appellate Court struck down a search above a bathroom’s ceiling tiles where the defendant was arrested in a separate room and the bathroom was not within his immediate reach, even though it looked like there might have been tampering with the tiles. See People v Franklin.

If you have been arrested, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. If the officer exceeded his or her authority during the search, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the results of the search.

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

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

Friday, February 2, 2018

WHAT IS A DATING RELATIONSHIP UNDER ILLINOIS DOMESTIC BATTERY LAW

You recently got into a fistfight with your ex-significant other. The police arrived and now you have been charged with domestic battery.

But your relationship ended some time ago. Is it still domestic battery?

The answer is yes. A recent Illinois Supreme Court decision held that the domestic battery law places no time limit on a dating relationship. (See People v Gray.

In Illinois, a person commits domestic battery if he or she knowingly, without legal justification and by any means, causes bodily harm to or makes insulting or provoking physical contact with any family or household member. A family or household member includes persons who have or have had a dating or engagement relationship. This definition does not include a casual acquaintanceship or ordinary fraternization between two people in a business or social context. But it can include your ex-partner from several years ago.

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. Perhaps you never you were just friends with the alleged victim, or you acted in self defense. 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.

See also: Illinois Domestic Battery Law.

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

Friday, January 26, 2018

MY FRIEND JUST OVERDOSED. WILL I GET ARRESTED IF I CALL FOR HELP?

You are at a party doing some opioids or methamphetamines when one of your friends becomes unresponsive. You are afraid if you will be arrested if you call for help. But if you don’t, your friend may die.

What should you do?

This very dilemma has caused many unnecessary deaths. As of 2012, Illinois law fortunately offers some immunity to those seeking emergency care for themselves or another during an overdose. Under these circumstances, you may not be charged with possessing a controlled, substance if the evidence against you was discovered because you sought emergency help in good faith, and the amount of the substance was within certain limits. (See Overdose; limited immunity from prosecution).

A recent Illinois appellate decision, People v Teper, however, allowed the state to prosecute a woman who received emergency aid during an overdose. The court held that immunity applies to evidence acquired as a result of seeking medical assistance. In this case, the defendant had not called for help but was unconscious when police arrived after reports that a woman was slumped in her car.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Maybe the overdose law protects you. If so, an attorney can petition the court in the hope of getting your case dismissed. Even if you don’t qualify for immunity and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to obtain a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

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

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

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

DO YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW THE LOCATION OF POLICE SURVEILLANCE AGAINST YOU IN ILLINOIS?

Recently, you were charged with selling drugs. The police say you were under surveillance, and they caught you in the act. Something about this doesn’t seem right. Where was this surveillance located? The state doesn’t want to tell.

Do you have a right to know?

The state’s right to withhold information about the officers’ location is known as the surveillance location privilege. Whether you have a right to know can be decided on a case to case basis. Your right to know may also depend on the timing of the proceedings in your case. For example, you may have a greater right to know at trial, than you do at a pretrial hearing.

To determine if the privilege applies, the court must balance your need to prepare your defense against the state’s need to keep the location secret. The state may argue that the location is useful, and its disclosure would compromise other investigations. The court considers the crime charged, the importance of the officer’s testimony and your possible defenses. If the officer is the sole witness, your right to know his or her location becomes critical. On the other hand, if the officer is corroborated by video or other sources, the court may deny your right to know.

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. Most crimes require the state to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. An attorney can look for weaknesses in the state’s case and if necessary, fight their attempts to withhold critical information from your defense.

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

Source: People v Flournoy.

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

Thursday, December 28, 2017

COOK COUNTY DRUG SCHOOL FALLS TO BUDGET AXE

Cook County has been in financial trouble for quite some time. Whether the soda tax was really levied to discourage obesity or to raise money, the county was pressured to repeal it, costing the county some much-needed funds. As a result, certain programs—including the Cook County Drug Court Treatment program—were cut.

Drug school was offered as an alternative if you were charged with a drug-related offense. After attending four weekends of classes, the charges against you would be dismissed. But with the program’s closure, this is no longer an option.

Instead, you may still be offered a deferred prosecution for a drug offense. This means if you comply with certain conditions for a set time, the charges may still be dropped. However, obtaining a deferred prosecution is not as clear-cut as being sentenced to drug school. It may be harder to qualify and more difficult to negotiate the terms. In this regard, an experienced criminal law attorney can help.

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. Perhaps the police lacked probable cause to stop you Even if the police acted properly and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the court house may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

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

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

Friday, December 22, 2017

DID I CONSENT TO A SEARCH? THE VOLUNTARY CONSENT EXCEPTION TO THE WARRANT REQUIREMENT IN ILLINOIS

When the police knocked at your door, your roommate opened the door. The police walked in, spotted some contraband and now you are under arrest. Did your roommate consent to the search?

The Fourth Amendment requires that police obtain a warrant before searching your home unless an exception to the warrant requirement exists. One exception involves the need to give emergency aid, for example, if someone inside the home is injured. The police may enter if they have a reasonable basis to connect the emergency with your home.

The police may also search if they obtain voluntary consent. The consent must be given without any coercion, expressed or implied, and must not be the result of any intimidation or deception. The court may determine whether you gave consent on the totality of the circumstances and on a case by case basis. If you open the door and say, “Check it out,” the police likely have consent for the search. If you instead slam the door shut and the officer kicks it open, then no consent was voluntarily given.

In People v Swanson. police arrived at a DUI defendant’s home when investigating a report about a disoriented person. Defendant’s wife opened the interior door but only briefly opened the storm door in order to better communicate with police. The officer then pushed open the door and entered. The wife repeatedly told officers that she and her husband did not need help. The court held that this was not voluntary consent, and thus the evidence from the search could not be used.

If you are arrested for a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney will review your case for its best possible defense. If the police acted illegally, an attorney may petition the court to throw out the evidence obtained from the illegal behavior. 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 obtain a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

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

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

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

WHAT IS AGGRAVATED IDENTITY THEFT IN ILLINOIS?

In Illinois, you can be charged with identity theft if you knowingly use another’s personal identifying information to fraudulently obtain credit, money, goods, services or other property. If that person is over the age of 60, your charge can be upgraded to aggravated identity theft. (See Illinois Identity Theft statute.) Aggravated identity theft also includes using another’s identity to further an organized gang’s activities.

Identity theft is also classified according to the amount of money involved. The classes range from a Class 4 felony for less than $300 to a Class X felony where more than $100,000 is involved.

As with most crimes, the state must prove all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. A recent Illinois case looked at the definition of “another person.” In People v Bensen, the defendant served as a secretary for an 80-year old man, who had given her a credit card for company expenses. Defendant then charged thousands of dollars for personal expenses which the employer unwittingly paid. Defendant was convicted of aggravated identity theft. On appeal, she argued that she did not use the personal identifying information of “another person” since the company card was in her name. The court agreed. Because defendant did not represent herself as someone else, her conviction was reversed.

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. Does the state have the evidence they need to prove your offense? 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.)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

CAN THE POLICE LIE TO GET YOUR CONSENT TO A SEARCH?

Under the Fourth Amendment, police may only search your home if they have a warrant. However, there are exceptions to this requirement. One exception is that you consented to the search. But what if your consent was based on an officer’s lie?

The Illinois Appellate Court held that the end does not justify the means where an officer told a defendant that he would go to jail unless he agreed to a search. Consent to a search must be voluntary. To determine if your consent was voluntary, the court looks at all the circumstances. Important factors can include if you initially refused the consent and if the officer lied.

In People v Wall, the officer induced the defendant to return home from work by saying he was investigating a possible break-in. Once home, the defendant asked if the officer had a search warrant, which the court interpreted as refusing consent. The officer then told defendant he would go to jail if he did not consent to the search, but if he consented, he would not go to jail. All statements were false. Therefore, the court suppressed the results of the search.

If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. If the police acted illegally, an attorney may petition the court to throw out the results of any improper police conduct.

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 27, 2017

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MURDER AND MANSLAUGHTER IN ILLINOIS?

The answer is in your state of mind. Murder may be committed intentionally or knowingly, whereas manslaughter involves unintentional, if reckless, behavior.

In Illinois, first degree murder means you intended to kill or do great bodily harm to someone, or you knew that your actions would cause or were highly likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another. 720 ILCS 5/9-1. First degree murder also includes a killing that occurs while commiting a forcible felony other than second degree murder. First degree murder has its own set of sentencing rules including the potential for the death penalty.

Second degree murder is like first degree murder with mitigation. Either you were acting under a sudden and intense passion because you were seriously provoked by the person you intended to kill, or you unreasonably believed you were defending yourself or another. 720 ILCS 5/9-2. Second degree murder is a Class 1 felony, punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison.

Involuntary manslaughter involves unintentional killing where your actons, even if lawful, were reckless and likely to cause death. 720 ILCS 5/9-3. If your actions involved a vehicle such as a car, snowmobile or boat, you may then be charged with reckless homicide. Both offenses are a Class 3 felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison.

In certain circumstances, reckless homicide can be upgraded to a Class 2 felony, such as if you went speeding through a school zone and killed two or more people.

If you have been charged with murder or manslaughter, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. In many cases, the state charges a higher offense than is warranted by the evidence. In a best case scenario, an attorney can present your case in hopes of winning your acquittal. But even if the evidence is overwhelmingly against you, an experienced attorney may help obtain a verdict or negotiate a plea agreement for a lesser offense.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its possible defense. If police did not have a valid reason to stop you, an attorney may be able to ask the court to suppress the evidence from your arrest. Even if the police acted properly and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the court house may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

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

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

Friday, October 13, 2017

CAN ILLINOIS POLICE STOP ME JUST BECAUSE I HAVE A GUN?

The answer is probably not.

On September 12, 2013, the Illinois Supreme Cort in People v. Aguilar partially struck down the law that barred possession of a handgun for self-defense outside the home. Thus, the mere fact you have a gun in your possession, without more, is not enough cause for police to stop you.

In a recent appellate case, People v Thomas, police received a tip that the defendant had a gun. The tip did not inform police whether defendant was involved in other criminal activity or whether defendant lacked a valid Firearms Owners Identification card. The gun ban was in effect at the time of defendant’s arrest. However, the law had since been declared unconsitutional and could no longer serve as a basis for the defendant’s arrest. Therefore, defendant’s stop by police was unconstitutional.

Likewise in People v Horton, officers thought they saw a metallic object that could have been a gun. The court held that this fact alone did not serve as probable cause for an arrest.

If you have a prior conviction based on a law that has since been declared unconstitutional, you will need to petition the court to vacate your prior conviction. Otherwise, your prior conviction can be used against you in a later offense. For more information, see our related post: If a Gun Law is Unconstitutional, Can My Conviction Under That Law Be Set Aside.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its possible defense. If police did not have a valid reason to stop you, an attorney may be able to ask the court to suppress the evidence from your arrest. Even if the police acted properly and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the court house may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

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

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

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

HELP FOR THE DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED OR MENTALLY-ILL DEFENDANT

Most criminal offenses require the state to prove that the defendant knowingly or intended to commit the crime. But what if the crime is committed by someone who is mentally ill or developmentally disabled?

For example, in the recent Illinois case People v Mayo, the defendant was charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse. The defendant, however, had suffered a brain injury in infancy and presently had the mental capacity of a 3-year-old and an IQ of 48. Therefore, could the defendant truly form the required intent to commit the crime?

In such cases, Illinois law provides certain procedures. First, the court must determine whether the defendant is mentally fit to stand trial. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the court will determine that the defendant is fit, and the case moves to trial. If the defendant is not fit, the court holds a discharge hearing.

A discharge hearing determines whether a defendant should be acquitted, but not whether a defendant is guilty. If the defendant cannot be acquitted because there is enough evidence of guilt, the court may find the defendant “not not guilty.” The defendant is then subject to one to five years of treatment, depending on the offense. If the defendant is still unfit after the treatment ends, the court may involuntarily commit the defendant for further treatment. The commitment, however, cannot exceed the maximum sentence prescribed under the original criminal charge.

If a defendant is fit to stand trial, the defendant may seek a verdict of “not guilty by reason of insanity.” Under these circumstances, a defendant must show that as a result of mental disease or defect, he or she lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his or her conduct. The court must first enter a verdict of guilty, then find the defendant not guilty by reason of insanity. (See our related post The Insanity Defense in Illinois.

If you have a friend or relative charged with a crime who suffers from a mental disability or illness, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can help present evidence of your loved one’s difficulties in their most favorable light. Often, a mental capacity defense will require expert testimony. An attorney can help select and prepare these experts.

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 22, 2017

CAN YOU VACATE YOUR CONVICTION UNDER THE ILLINOIS STATUTE BARRING SEX OFFENDERS FROM PUBLIC PARKS?

In a recent decision, an Illinois Appellate court struck down a law that barred convicted sex offenders from public parks. When a statute is declared unconstitutional, it is unconstitutional from the beginning. Therefore, if you have been convicted under such a statute, you may be able to ask the court to vacate your conviction.

Vacating your conviction becomes particularly important if you have an immigration status and could be deported or lose your green card. Even if you are a citizen, a prior conviction can be used to upgrade a charge or sentence for a later offense unless you vacate the conviction before that time.

In People v Pepitone, the defendant, who had been previously convicted of a child sex offense, was arrested for walking his dog in a public park. The prior law made it a crime “for a sexual predator or a child sex offender to knowingly be present in any public park building or on real property comprising any public park.” A public park is defined as “a park, forest preserve, bikeway, trail, or conservation area under the jurisdiction of the State or a unit of local government.”

While the legislature has an interest in protecting children, the court held the statute was too broad and criminalized “substantial amounts of innocent conduct.” The statute was “an outright ban on all individuals with certain sex offense convictions from public park buildings and public park property without any requirement that anyone—particularly a child—be actually, or even probably, present.” Furthermore, the statute criminalized innocent conduct such as attending a concert, a Chicago Bears’ game at Soldier Field, or even a trip to the Museum of Science and Industry.

If you have been convicted under a statute that has later been held unconstitutional, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney may petition the court to vacate your conviction. If you do not, your conviction can be used against you for sentencing purposes should you later be charged with a crime.

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 12, 2017

THE ILLINOIS LAW ON SELF DEFENSE

You got into a fight at a bar or a party or even in your own home. While you are now charged with a crime, you weren’t the one who started making trouble. Can you claim self defense?

The answer depends on a number of factors. Who started the fight? Were you afraid the other person was about to hurt you? Was your fear reasonable?

In Illinois, the elements of self-defense include that (1) unlawful force was threatened against a person, (2) the person threatened was not the aggressor, (3) the danger of harm was imminent, (4) the use of force was necessary, (5) the person threatened actually and subjectively believed a danger existed that required the use of force, and (6) the beliefs of the person threatened were objectively reasonable.

Whether these elements equal self defense depends on the specific facts of your situation and the whether the judge or jury believes you.

In People v Williams, the court held that the defendant’s fear of imminent bodily harm was unreasonable when the victim was unarmed and injured.

On the other hand in In re Vuk, a defendant’s self defense claim was upheld where the court did not believe any of the witnesses. Once self defense has been raised, the state has the burden of disproving the self defense claim beyond a reasonable doubt. Because the trial court believed all the state’s witnesses were lying, the state could not sustain its burden of proof.

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. Self defense is just one of several defenses that can be raised to fight a criminal charge.

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.)