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.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

RECKLESS DISCHARGE OF A FIREARM IN ILLINOIS

To be convicted of reckless discharge of a firearm, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you 1) recklessly discharged a firearm 2) endangering the bodily safety of an individual. If either of those elements is missing, the state cannot prove its case.

In a recent Illinois appellate case, the court held that that an endangered individual must be someone other than yourself. In People v Grant, the defendant was charged with recklessly discharging a firearm by accidentally shooting himself in an empty room. The court rejected the state’s argument that the defendant was an individual and thus he could be charged because he endangered himself.

Reckless discharge of a firearm is a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison. If the shooting is from a car, the driver of the car may also be charged for the shooter’s actions.

If you are charged with an Illinois offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case to determine your best defense. Can the state prove all the elements of the offense? Did the police act lawfully when they made your arrest? Was any search for a weapon legal? If not, an attorney can petition the court to suppress any evidence that was illegally taken.

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

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

See also: Reckless Discharge of a Firearm 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, August 4, 2017

DID YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO BE THERE? BURGLARY IN ILLINOIS

Suppose you were visiting a public building. You had business in the building and had every right to be there. But while there, you entered an office marked “private,” and stole some cash off a desk. Does that make you a burglar?

In Illinois, the answer is yes. You commit burglary when you enter a building or any part of that building without authority and with the intent to commit a felony or theft. According to Illinois case law, you still entered the office without authority even though you had a right to enter the building itself. The private area need not have a door so long as the space is off limits.

The fact you didn’t know part of the building was off limits may not matter. Illinois courts have held that when a person enters part of a building “with the intent to commit a theft or felony, that person enters that part without authority, regardless of whether that part of the building is normally held open to the public and regardless of whether that person entered the building as a whole with authority.” (See People v Gharrett).

If you have been charged with burglary or another crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. As with most criminal offenses, the state must prove you guilty of each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Can the state prove that you lacked authority to be in a building or that you intended to commit a crime? Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

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

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

Friday, July 14, 2017

DO I NEED AN ILLINOIS FIREARM ID IF I AM LICENSED OUT OF STATE?

The answer depends on what you mean by “licensed.”

Illinois law requires gun owners to possess a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card issued by the state. There is an exception, however, for non-Illinois residents. In that case, you do not need an Illinois FOID if you are licensed to carry a firearm in your home state. An Illinois appellate court has interpreted this to mean that you must actually have a valid license from a regulatory body in your home state. The mere fact that your state allows citizens to possess firearms is not enough.

In People v Wiggins, the defendant was charged with Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon. A Texas resident, he did not have a valid Illinois FOID. Defendant argued that since his home state of Texas does not require a license to own firearms, he was thus licensed in Texas for purposes of Illinois law. The court disagreed. The court reasoned that the non-resident exception only applies to non-residents who have complied with an official state process for licensing in their home state.

Illinois law does make an exception for non-resident hunters when their home state does not require licensing.

If you have been charged with a firearms or similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Perhaps you are covered by one of the FOID law’s exceptions. Perhaps the police lacked probable cause to stop you or make an arrest. If so, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the results of any illegal search or 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.)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

POLICE MUST VIDEOTAPE MURDER INTERROGATIONS IN ILLINOIS

Illinois law requires that police videotape anytime they question you about murder charges provided that you are in custody. If police fail to record the entire interrogation, a judge may throw out any statements you made even after the tape began rolling

Under 725 ILCS 5/103-2.1, your oral, written, or sign language statements made as a result of a custodial interrogation conducted at a police station or other place of detention are presumed inadmissible as evidence unless: (1) an electronic recording is made of the custodial interrogation, and (2) the recording is substantially accurate and not intentionally altered. The statute defines custodial interrogation to mean “any interrogation during which (i) a reasonable person in the subject’s position would consider himself or herself to be in custody and (ii) during which a question is asked that is reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response.”

In a recent Illinois decision, People v Little, the Appellate Court suppressed a murder suspect’s statements where the police failed to record the first part of his interrogation. When the interrogation began, Defendant was in custody as he had been taken to the police station in handcuffs and was not free to leave. Although the defendant may not have been a murder suspect when the interview began, the state later sought to use his statements against him in a murder proceeding. Therefore, the court held that police were required to video the start of his questioning. Because the first part of the interview was not taped, defendant’s later statements which were on video were inadmissible.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately to review your best options. If police acted improperly in conducting a search, making an arrest or questioning you, the attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the results of illegal police conduct. In some limited cases, this could result in the charges against you being dismissed.

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 2, 2017

THE FELONY IN FELONY MURDER

In Illinois, you can be charged with felony murder if a death results while you are committing a forcible felony other than second degree murder. For example, if you are robbing a store and your accomplice shoots the store owner, you can be charged with felony murder even though you were nowhere near the gun. Felony murder is a form of first degree murder.

A recent Illinois court decision examined the felony in felony murder. Can you be charged with felony murder if the underlying felony is an element of the murder? The Court said no. In other words, if you walked up to the store clerk and fired a gun, you could not be charged with both types of murder.

In People v O'Neal, the defendant fired at a van that he believed contained rival gang members. Instead, he killed his friend who was sitting in a car across the street. The defendant was charged with felony murder based on his aggravated use of a weapon. Because discharging the gun was inherent in killing his friend, it could not serve as the basis for felony murder.

Felony murder does not require the state to prove that you intended to kill. The state need only prove that a death occurred during a felony. Without the element of intent, however, a defendant cannot raise state of mind as a defense. In the above case, the defendant believed he was shooting in self-defense. This belief could have reduced the offense from first to second degree murder. By charging the defendant with felony murder based on firing a gun, the court reasoned that the state would be entitled to a first degree murder conviction it could not otherwise get.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Did the police act properly in searching your premises, arresting you or taking your confession? Does the state have the evidence it needs to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt? The answers to those questions can help determine the strategy for your case.

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

See 720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(3) First Degree Murder statute.

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

Monday, May 15, 2017

I WAS CAUGHT SWITCHING SAMPLES IN MY DRUG TEST. WHAT CAN HAPPEN?

You were convicted for possession of a controlled substance. The court gave you supervision, or if you had a felony, you may have received probation. As a result, you must submit to random drug testing. You knew you couldn’t pass, so you switched your urine sample with a friend’s.

Somehow, the probation officer figured it out. Now, you are facing a violation on your original case as well as a new felony. The violation alone means you can be resentenced on the original case, and in certain circumstances, you may be charged with a Class 2 felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison.

What can you do?

First, it is imperative that you hire an experienced attorney who is respected at the court house and familiar with the court officials involved. It is usually difficult to defend these cases on the facts alone, which are usually pretty clear. A good working relationship between your attorney and the court can be essential in negotiating a more favorable plea agreement. Furthermore, an attorney can help you present evidence of your otherwise good character.

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 4, 2017

CAN I BE DEPORTED FOR A DRUG OFFENSE?

The answer is probably yes, unless your crime involved a small amount of marijuana for your own personal use.

Under the The Immigration and Nationality Act, you may be deported if at any time after admission, you have been convicted of violating, conspiring or attempting to violate any law or regulation of a State, the United States, or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance as defined under federal law, other than a single offense involving possession for your own use of 30 grams or less of marijuana. Furthermore, the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services may deport drug abusers or addicts.

If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your options to determine your best possible defense. Because immigration laws are rapidly changing, you should also work with an immigration attorney to help insure that any action you take does not have unintended consequences. If you have a prior conviction in Chicago, you may be able to expunge or seal your case more quickly than you could in a suburban court district. However, the state may object.

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, April 17, 2017

IF A GUN LAW IS UNCONSTIUTIONAL, CAN MY CONVICTION UNDER THAT LAW BE SET ASIDE?

A few years ago, you were convicted under an Illinois gun law that banned carrying a firearm outside the home. In 2013, the law was set aside. Is there anything you can do about your prior offense?

If you have been convicted under an Illinois gun or other law that was later declared unconstitutional, you may be able to ask the court to set your conviction aside. This is particularly important if your immigration status is at risk. Even if you are a citizen, your prior conviction may still be used to upgrade a future offense unless you act first.

In 2013, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down parts of the Illinois Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon statute, stating that it was a flat ban on ready to use guns outside the home. (See People v Aguilar.) The affected parts said that a person commits aggravated unlawful use of a weapon when he or she knowingly carries an uncased, loaded and immediately accessible firearm on his or her person or in any vehicle except when on his or her land, home or place of business. Such an offense was a Class 4 felony.

Once a law is declared unconstitutional, it is considered unconstitutional from the beginning. But that doesn’t mean that your conviction disappears automatically. You must take action to clear your record. If you don’t, Illinois courts have held that the prior offense can be used to upgrade sentencing on a future offense.

In People v Smith, the defendant was convicted of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon based on his prior felony conviction under a gun statute that was later declared unconstitutional. The court held that because the defendant did not clear his felony status, his prior conviction could still be used as an element of the current offense.

If you were convicted under this or another unconstitutional statute, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can help you work through the court system to have your conviction vacated.

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

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

Thursday, April 6, 2017

MODERN TECHNOLOGY AND THE FOURTH AMENDMENT

The Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable police searches. The founding fathers, however, never imagined the modern computer era. Under current federal law, the police can obtain all kinds of information that you may have shared with third parties via your computer.

In People v Caira, the defendant had argued that his I.P. address should be private because it could reveal information about his physical location. The court, however, held that a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information that he or she “turns over to third parties even if the information is revealed on the assumption that it will be used only for a limited purpose and the confidence in the third party will not be betrayed.” The court held that police did not need a warrant because his I.P. address was shared with Microsoft whenever defendant checked his Hotmail inbox.

In prior decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court has stated that while the contents of your phone conversation might be private, the numbers that you dialed are not. Further, banking records were not private because they were shared with the bank.

If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case to help determine your best possible defense. Maybe the search went beyond the information you shared with third parties. If so, an attorney can petition the court to have the results of any illegal search thrown out.

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 27, 2017

EXTRADITION TO ILLINOIS: VIOLATION OF PROBATION

If you violate the terms of your out of state probation, you can be extradited to the state where you originally had the problem.

Extradition means you could be arrested in your current state and brought back to face charges in the original state. The county prosecutor in the original state often decides whether to extradite, and it is impossible to predict their decision in any given case.

If you are at risk of extradition to Illinois, you should contact an experienced Illinois criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review the facts of your case for your best possible defense. For example, an attorney may help clear a problem underlying your original case. Sometimes a violation of probation is the result of miscommunication between court agencies, and an attorney may help sort this out.

Even if you violated probation and there was no mistake, an attorney can still help. For instance, an attorney, who is respected in the courthouse, may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you might get on your own.

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

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

Thursday, March 16, 2017

POSSESSION OF BURGLARY TOOLS IN ILLINOIS

You need not commit a burglary to be charged with a crime. The mere possession of burglary tools may be enough.

Under Illinios law, you may be convicted of a Class 4 felony, punishable by one to three years in prison, if you possess any key, tool, instrument, device or explosive suitable for breaking into a building or motor vehicle or any place intended for safekeeping property. You must have entered the building or vehicle intending to commit the felony or theft. Your intent to commit such a crime may be inferred if you have a key designed for picking locks.

If you are charged in Illinois with possession of burglary tools or similar offense, contact a criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. As with most crimes, the state must prove you guilty of each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Can the state show you possess the necessary intent? If the police lacked probable cause to search you, an attorney may petition the court to suppress the evidence resulting from the search.

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

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

Source: Possession of Burglary Tools.

(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 6, 2017

CAN MY PAST SEXUAL OFFENSES BE USED TO PROVE A CURRENT CRIME IN ILLINOIS?

Past crimes generally cannot be used to prove a current offense except under certain circumstances. One major exception, however, is that Illinois law specifically allows the use of prior sex offenses to show a tendency to commit that type of crime.

With most crimes, your past offenses cannot be used to show bad character and thus a likelihood to commit crime. However, they can be used to show intent, modus operandi, identity, motive, absence of mistake and any material fact other than propensity that is relevant to the case. For example, a past crime can show you had a motive to murder a key witness, or that you knew how to hot wire cars because you’d done it before.

In Illinois, however, your past sexual misconduct can be used in crimes involving predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, criminal sexual abuse, child pornography, aggravated child pornography, criminal transmission of HIV or child abduction. (See 725 ILCS 115-7.3).

Even then the court must consider if the past crimes evidence is more likely to prejudice the jury than would be helpful as proof. To make that determination, the court considers: (1) closeness in time between the past sexual offense and the current crime, (2) the degree of factual similarity or (3) other relevant facts and circumstances.

In one recent Illinois case, People v Arze, the appellate court upheld the use of prior crimes against a family doctor who had sexually abused his patients. His past offenses took place around the same time. The crimes were factually similar because the defendant touched the victims on their private parts in the exam room while they were partially undressed. Because only two past crimes were admitted, the jury would not be overwhelmed or prejudiced by the number of past crimes.

If you have been charged with a sex offense or other crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not discuss your crime with the police or third parties. Any attempt to explain yourself might give the prosecution the evidence they need to convict you. An experienced attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the 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, February 24, 2017

CAN I BE DEPORTED FOR A CRIMINAL OFFENSE?

The answer may depend on the type of offense, how long you have been in the country and whether your crime is considered one of moral turpitude.

Under current immigration law, you can be deported if you are convicted for cetain listed offenses or for a crime involving moral turpitude for which a sentence of more than one year could have been imposed. If you are here on a visa, you must have committed the crime within five years of entry. If you are a permanent resident, the crime must fall within ten years of entry. See Immigration and Nationality Act.

While the following list is not exhaustive, you may be deported for aggravated felony, high speed flight from an immigration checkpoint, failing to register as a sex offender, drug offenses, domestic violence, certain firearms offenses, terrorist activities and human trafficking or two or more crimes involving moral turpitude.

To determine whether your crime involves moral turpitude, the court may examine the elements of your state law offense. However, the court may instead look at the underlying facts of your case. For that reason, you must be careful before taking a plea agreement to insure that you are not inadvertently pleading to a crime of moral turpitude.

Furthermore, a sentence of supervision may be considered a conviction for purposes of deportation. Thus, it is important to consult an immigration attorney before you enter a guilty plea.

Bear in mind that this is a highly volatile area of the law which is subject to change. Therefore, it is essential to speak with a qualified attorney if you have any questions regarding your immigration status.

If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your options to determine your best possible defense. For most criminal offenses, the state must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. An attorney can look for weaknesses in the state’s case. If the police stopped or searched you illegally, an attorney may bring a motion to have the evidence against you suppressed. Even if the police acted lawfully and the evidence againt you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

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

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

Friday, February 17, 2017

CAN PAST ACTS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE BE USED AS EVIDENCE IN ILLINOIS?

The state cannot generally use your past bad acts to prove that you have bad character and thus are more likely to commit a crime. Illinois law, however, specifically allows evidence of past domestic violence to be used under certain conditions.

Under Illinois law, evidence of past domestic violence can be used for any relevant purpose to prove charges of domestic violence or first or second degree murder involving domestic violence. (See Evidence in Domestic Violence Cases).

Even so, the court must weigh whether past crimes evidence will bias the jury against you more than it helps prove the case. To make that determination, the court considers: (1) the closeness in time between the past acts and the present crime; (2) the degree of factual similarity between the offenses; or (3) other relevant facts and circumstances.

In People v Jenk, the Illinois Appellate court upheld the use of three prior domestic violence incidents against the defendant, because they were 1) supported by corroborative evidence; 2) relevant to showing defendant’s motive, intent or absence of mistake; 3) were close in time and 4) had a high degree of factual similarity to the current crime. The trial court excluded three other incidents that were uncorroborated and thus might have prejudiced the jury beyond their evidentiary value.

If you have been charged with domestic violence or another crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not discuss your crime with the police or third parties. Any attempt to explain yourself might give the prosecution the evidence they need to convict you. An experienced attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the 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, February 8, 2017

A LITTLE ROAD RAGE CAN LEAD TO BIG TROUBLE IN ILLINOIS

We’ve all been cut off or frustrated by other drivers. But no matter how hostile the other driver may be, it’s best to stay in your car, keep cool and if necessary, call the police.

A recent Illinois case illustrates the criminal charges that can result when two parties allow road rage to overwhelm their better judgment. In People v Yeoman, defendant was in a car behind the victim at a red light. Defendant honked his horn to let the other driver know the light had changed. The victim, a senior citizen named Frank Egas, then repeatedly gave defendant the finger, refused to let him pass and cut him off. Defendant’s wife and children were also in the car. Defendant and his wife left their car to confront Egas. After returning to their car, Egas got out and began to yell at them. Defendant punched Egas in the face. He then fell backward and later died.

The defendant was charged with two counts of second degree murder, aggravated battery on a public way, aggravated battery of a senior citizen and aggravated battery causing great bodily harm. On appeal, defendant argued the evidence was insufficient to convict him of second degree murder since he could not know that hitting Egas with his bare fist would cause a strong probability of death. The court agreed but upheld his conviction for aggravated battery to a senior citizen, a Class 2 felony punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison. The court denied defendant’s claim of self defense in that Egas had done no more than yell at him.

If you have been charged with road rage or another crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. As with most criminal chages, the state must prove the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt. An attorney can look for weaknesses in the state’s evidence. If the victim acted aggressively beyond simply yelling, you might be able to claim self defense.

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

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

Friday, January 20, 2017

NEW ILLINOIS RULES FOR GUILTY PLEAS

As of January 1, 2017, changes to Illinois law require the court to give new warnings about the consequences of a guilty plea.

Before you plead guilty, a judge must first warn or “admonish” you about what your plea really means. The judge will ask if you understand the rights you are giving up, such as your right to a jury or to present evidence in your defense.

Under the new rules, the judge must clearly explain: 1) the maximum and minimum penalties for your crime; 2) that you are more likely to receive a higher sentence or consecutive sentences for any future conviction; 3) that your conviction may restrict where you can live, work or be present; and 4) that it may be more difficult to find a job or place to live, or to keep or obtain a license for a gun, car or occupation. The court can only accept your plea once you indicate that you understand these warnings and wish to move forward.

A guilty plea should be your last resort. Your attorney should review your case to determine if there is a better option. But if the evidence is overwhelming and the police acted lawfully, a guilty plea might be your only real choice. In that case, an attorney who is respected in the court house may help 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 Plea 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, December 31, 2016

EXPERT DISCREDITS EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY IN MURDER TRIAL

In March, 2016, we blogged on an Illinois Supreme Court case that opened the door to allowing experts to dispute the reliability of eyewitness testimony. (See How Reliable is Eyewitness Testimony?). Because of that case, People v Lerma, such an expert was permitted to testify in a Palatine murder trial, which resulted in a verdict of not guilty.

According to the Chicago Tribune (High court opens door to experts who say eyewitness IDs are unreliable), defendant Marco Lopez was accused of the 2014 shooting deaths of a man and his son. The state’s case relied primarily on eyewitness testimony. The state did not have a murder weapon, DNA or other physical evidence against the defendant.

One witness said they saw the defendant through a glass door about 10 feet away after midnight. Expert Geoffrey Loftus testified that conditions such as lighting, the length of an event and pre-event information could affect an eyewitness in recognizing someone they know. (Loftus conducts experiments on memory and sensory perception at University of Washington-Seattle). As a result, the jury acquitted the defendant.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced crminal law attorney immediately. As with most crimes, the state has the burden to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt on all the elements of the offense. An attorney can review your case and determine which experts, if any, could help your defense. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

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

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

Monday, December 5, 2016

A FORMER SCHOOL CAN STILL BE A SCHOOL UNDER ILLINOIS DRUG LAW

(Update: Effective January 1, 2018, the Illinois legislature reduced the distance required from the school to 500 feet. The amended law further requires that at the time of the violation, persons under 18 are present or reasonably expected to be present or that school is in session.)

Under Illinois law, the penalties are increased if you knowingly manufacture, deliver or possess with intent to deliver a controlled substance such as heroin or cocaine when you are within 1,000 feet of a school building. For example, a Class 1 felony can be upgraded to a Class X.

These penalties can be raised even if school is not in session, and no children are present. Now, a new Illinois Appellate case has held that a school is still a school under this law even if the building no longer operates as a school.

In People v Tolliver, the defendant argued that his drug charges should not be upgraded because the Chicago Public Schools had closed the school in question. The Court disagreed, stating that the building still had the identity of a school and would still draw neighborhood children to its premises.

The court considered the following factors: (i) ownership and maintenance by Chicago Public Schools, (ii) purpose, (iii) design, (iv) site characteristics (including school grounds), and (iv) its recognized place within the surrounding neighborhood. After weighing these factors, the court upheld defendant's conviction of the aggravated offense.

If you are charged with a drug-related crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not discuss your case with anyone, especially not the police. Trying to talk your way out of a situation might end up giving the prosecution the evidence they need to convict you.

An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Did the police have probable cause to stop you? Was the search that uncovered the drugs legal? If not, an attorney may have grounds to challenge your arrest and hopefully get the evidence against you suppressed.

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 criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

See our related school law blog: North Shore School 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, November 23, 2016

CAN YOU BE CONVICTED OF BOTH AGGRAVATED UNLAWFUL USE OF A WEAPON AND NOT HAVING A FOID CARD?

The answer is yes.

You may be convicted of both charges even though your Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon (AUUW) is based on not having a valid Firearm’s Owner Identification card (FOID). The elements of the two crimes are somewhat different and therefore, they create separate offenses. (See People v Schweihs).

Under the Illinois AAUW law, you can be charged if you knowingly carry a firearm on your person or vehicle except if you are on your own land, home or fixed place of business or someone else permits you to carry the weapon on their property. (See Aggravated Unlawful Use of Weapon).

The FOID law requires that you have a FOID Card previously issued by the Illinois State Police in your name in order to acquire or possess any firearm, stun gun, or taser within Illinois. (See FOID Card Act).

The difference between the two laws involves your location, which is an additional element required under the AAUW law. For example, if you possess the firearm in your own home without a FOID card, you may be charged with failing to have a valid ID but not AUUW. Once you leave your own premises, the AUUW may now come into play.

If you are charged with a weapons offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not talk to the police or try to “explain” your way out of your offense. You could give the state the evidence it needs to prosecute you. An experienced attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the 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 28, 2016

GETTING YOUR CAR BACK: THE ILLINOIS LAW ON FORFEITURE

After you were arrested for a drug or another offense, the state took a look at your expensive car. Or maybe police found drugs in your boat or plane. Maybe that car, boat or plane really belonged to an innocent third party. In any case, the state wants to keep it.

Can they do that? What can you do?

Illinois criminal law allows the state to seize a vehicle, such as a car, boat or airplane, involved in a crime. The state files a civil forfeiture action against the vehicle itself, and thus the property would be listed as the defendant.

Under the Illinois Seizure Law, the state may seize any vehicle used with the owner’s knowledge and consent in the commission of a crime. Such crime may include arson, robbery, predatory sex offenses, murder, kidnapping, drug offenses, gambling, DUI and stalking. The property must have helped facilitate the offense in some way.

Within 14 days of a seizure, the state must request a preliminary hearing for the court to determine if there is probable cause to seize the property. The owner need not be notified at this stage. Once the court determines there is probable cause, the state must file the forfeiture action and notify the owner. The vehicle is held until the court’s final decision.

In a forfeiture, the state must prove that the vehicle was used in the commission of the offense by a preponderance of the evidence. The owner may then show that he or she had no reason to know the vehicle would be used in that way. The state may then disprove the owner’s claims. If the state wins, you lose your property.

If you have a vehicle subject to a forfeiture, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can guide you through the procedure and help present the best possible defense to get your property back.

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 ex rel Brendon F. Kelly vs One 2008 Chevy Trailblazer.

(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 10, 2016

STUN GUNS FALL WITHIN SECOND AMENDMENT PROTECTIONS

A recent U.S. Supreme Court case overturned a Massachusetts law banning stun guns.

In Caetano v Massachusetts, the defendant obtained a stun gun in order to defend herself against an abusive boyfriend. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the state’s arguments that 1) stun guns were not common when the Second Amendment was enacted, 2) they are thoroughly modern and 3) they are not readily adaptable for military use. The court had previously ruled that the Second Amendment extends to the states and to weapons that had not existed when the Bill of Rights was written. Therefore, the Massachusetts’ ban on stun guns was unconstitutional.

If you are charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can determine your best possible defense. If the police lacked probable cause to search you or your premises, an attorney may be able to petition the court to throw out the evidence against you. Even if the police acted properly 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.)

Monday, September 19, 2016

CAN POLICE PROVE THE WEAPONS ARE MINE?

Updated October 4, 2017:

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

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

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

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

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

In People v Terrell, the defendant was convicted based on contraband found in a hidden compartment in the hall closet. Although some of defendant's personal items were found inside the home, the state could not prove that defendant knew about the secret compartment or had even entered the home. Therefore, the state could not prove actual or constructive possession, and the defendant's conviction was reversed.

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

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

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

Monday, August 29, 2016

WHO IS A HOUSEHOLD MEMBER UNDER ILLINOIS DOMESTIC BATTERY LAW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 8, 2016

EXTRADITION TO ILLINOIS: THE UNFINISHED CRIMINAL CASE

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 18, 2016

ILLINOIS STALKING AND CYBERSTALKING LAWS DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL

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

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

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

The Illinois legislature is already attempting to rewrite the law.

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 9, 2016

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

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

How long does the prosecution have to bring charges?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 25, 2016

FIGHTING THE POLICE SEARCH OF YOUR COMPUTER

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

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

What can you do? Is the search valid?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

2016 UPDATE ON COURTHOUSE CELL PHONE RULES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 4, 2016

FRUIT OF THE POISON TREE: STATEMENTS FROM AN ILLEGAL ARREST

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

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

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

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

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

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