Thursday, January 28, 2010

“MY LOVED ONE HAS BEEN ARRESTED!”: POLICE CUSTODY AND THE BOND HEARING

You just got a phone call from your loved one. Somehow, they were picked up by police and are now in custody. Your loved one is scared and begging you for help. What happens next and what can you do?

In Illinois, if your loved one has been picked up for a relatively minor offense and has a clean record, they may be eligible for an I-Bond. That means they can leave the police station on their personal promise that they will appear in Court.

But what if the situation is more serious? In that case, your loved one may be held over for a bond hearing until the earliest possible court business date. At the hearing, a Judge will decide how much money a criminal defendant must post in order to be released from police custody. If your loved one had the bad fortune to be picked up on a Friday night, they may have to spend the weekend in jail.

If you receive that distressed call, you are best advised to contact an attorney immediately. An attorney can visit your loved one in the police station, advise them not to talk to police and notify the police that they are represented by an attorney and will not answer questions. Timely intervention can help prevent your loved one from caving into police pressure and providing the evidence needed for a conviction.

An attorney can also play an important role at the bond hearing. At the hearing, the State will likely argue that a high bond or bail should be set. In Illinois courts, such as the Circuit Courts at Skokie, Rolling Meadows and Maywood, your loved one will have to post 10% of any bond that the Judge sets in order to be released. The bond may be set so high that your loved one has no hope of making it and must then remain in jail. An experienced attorney may be able to assess which arguments are most likely to sway a particular Judge to lower bail.

If you have questions or need immediate assistance, feel free to contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com for advice.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"THE POLICE ARE LOOKING FOR ME": WHEN YOU ARE A SUSPECT OR FEAR ARREST

You just got a phone call from your roommate. Some police officer showed up looking for you. As it happens, you actually do know why they want to talk. Maybe you were involved in a crime like a robbery, hit and run, shoplifting or drug deal. Maybe you sexted someone or downloaded other inappropriate sexual materials. Or maybe you didn’t actually commit a crime but are afraid the police might view you as an accessory. You can’t skip town and you can’t hide out forever. What can you do?

For starters, you should probably contact an attorney immediately. A competent attorney may provide invaluable guidance that helps prevent you from incriminating yourself, while staying within the bounds of the law. In limited cases, this advice can help prevent charges from ever being brought.

Now maybe you’ve made that appointment to get legal advice, but fear you may be arrested before you can step into the attorney’s office. Whatever you do, don’t talk to the police or anyone else about your situation. When confronted with an accusation, most people feel the need to explain or justify themselves. What may seem like a perfectly reasonable explanation to you, however, may be exactly the grounds needed by police to charge you with the crime. Even comments made to friends can be used against you later. Witness statements that you admitted a crime are not necessarily hearsay and can dig you in deeply.

If you are picked up and held for questioning or charged with a crime, tell the police that you do not wish to answer any questions without an attorney present. It is even more imperative that you not discuss the circumstances of the crime with police before you have seen an attorney. This, at times, may be difficult. The police can legally leave you sitting for hours in a cold room after you have refused to talk. Or they might make promises of leniency if you will only open up. It is in your best interest, however, not to start talking. The state has to prove you guilty of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Once you start talking, you may unwittingly remove any doubts about your guilt and severely limit the options your attorney has in defending you. And as to the promises of leniency, the police do not always have the final control over how you are charged or sentenced.

Due to the latest technology such as email, textng and Facebook, it is equally important that you not “talk” electronically. The state may be able to get copies of your text messages, email or Facebook account to see what you have posted. Likewise, they can get cell phone records and in some cases voicemail recordings. Any statements you make in these forums can come back to haunt you.

If you have questions about your situation, feel free to contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com