Tuesday, August 17, 2010

'WHAT IF I DON'T SHOW UP FOR COURT?": BOND FORFEITURE WARRANTS

Recently you were arrested under Illinois criminal law. That was bad enough, but now you figure there is no point in going to court. After all, you would miss time at work, and since you’re guilty anyway, why should you bother? Or maybe you have been going to court, but something came up and you couldn’t make the last court date or you simply forgot about it.

What can happen to you and what can you do?

In most Cook County criminal cases such as at the Skokie, Rolling Meadows and Maywood courthouses, attendance at court dates is mandatory. Failing to show up for court is a serious matter with serious consequences. The judge can issue a “bond forfeiture warrant.” That means any bond you may have posted will now belong to the State. Additionally, the court has now issued a warrant for your arrest.

If you did miss court, however, there is still hope. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can bring a motion before the court to vacate the bond forfeiture/warrant so that the new arrest warrant will be quashed and you can continue to defend your case under the old warrant. Be warned, however, that judges only have so much patience. If you continually miss court dates, it may be difficult to vacate a warrant if it becomes a habit.

If you missed a court date for a speeding ticket or other traffic offense, the court can find you guilty in your absence. You may be able to get the judgment against you vacated and make an appearance on your ticket. An experienced attorney can greatly assist you.

If you have an outstanding warrant for a criminal offense or if you missed a traffic ticket date, please feel free to contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or matt@mattkeenanlaw.com for assistance.

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

Monday, August 9, 2010

YOUR RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT UNDER NEW SUPREME COURT LAW

If you have watched enough TV police shows, you have heard the Miranda warning given to suspects, time and time again. “You have a right to an attorney. You have a right to remain silent. Any statements you make can and will be used against you….” But now under new Supreme Court case law, if you wish to remain silent, you must say so as clearly as possible.

In Berghuis v Thompkins, the Defendant invoked his right to remain silent by simply not saying anything under questioning for a long period of time. When police continued to question him, he eventually made a statement to the police, which he tried to suppress based on the police violating his right to remain silent.

The Court held that the Defendant’s actions were not sufficient to invoke his right to remain silent. The statements the Defendant made were admitted against him. The Court said that any invocation of Miranda must be “unambiguous” so that the police will not have to guess regarding whether they should have cut off questioning. (A previous case ruled that if a Defendant wants an attorney, he or she must also do so clearly.)

So if you are arrested and taken into police custody, what should you do? After signing your Miranda warning form, you should tell the police “I want to remain silent,” and “I want an attorney.” Only by making these unambiguous statements will your Miranda rights be protected under the new case law. Whatever you do, do not give up your Miranda rights by signing a “Waiver” form.

Even if you assert these rights, the police could try to make you sufficiently uncomfortable to want to start talking even if they are not doing anything illegal. You might have to wait a long time in a relatively cold room. While statements made after a Defendant invokes his right to remain silent may not be admissible in Court, the best chance for your defense depends on your continued silence until you have an attorney present.

If you or a loved one have been arrested and are in police custody or if you have any questions, feel free to contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

Source: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-1470.pdf

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

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

“BUT I’LL LOSE MY JOB!:” TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS AND THE COMMERCIAL DRIVERS LICENSE

If you drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), then getting stopped for a DUI or even a simple traffic violation can cost you your livelihood.

In Illinois, you can lose your commercial driver’s license (CDL) for at least one year if you are stopped for certain driving-related offenses, even if you weren’t in a CMV at the time! You may be penalized for refusing a breath or blood test, having blood alcohol of at least .04 when driving a CMV or at least .08 when driving a non-CMV. Furthermore, your CDL can be suspended if you knowingly leave the scene of an accident, commit a felony when driving any vehicle or if you drive a CMV on a revoked or suspended license. If you were driving hazardous materials when any of the above happened, you can lose your CDL for at least 3 years.

If you are convicted a second time, you can say good bye to your CDL for life, although the Secretary of State can under certain circumstances reduce the suspension to a period of 10 years.

Even less severe traffic offenses can play havoc with your CDL. You can lose your CDL for at least two months if you receive convictions for two serious traffic violations (such as speeding) within three years, and for at least four months if you have three convictions in three years, even though you weren’t driving a CMV at the time

If you continue to drive a CMV after the Secretary of State has issued an “out of service” order suspending your CDL, you can receive additional suspension penalties.

If you are stopped for any traffic-related offense, you should not speak about the incident to the police or anyone else, and you should contact an attorney immediately to discuss your options. It is critical that you rigorously pursue any defense you might have if you wish to maintain your CDL. The State still has the burden of proof to show that you were guilty of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt. An attorney can help expose weaknesses in the state’s case. Even if your case seems hopeless, an experienced attorney may be able to work out a plea arrangement for a lesser offense, with a shorter suspension time.

If you are threatened with the loss of your CDL or have other questions, feel free to contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

See our related DUI blog at http://duilawyerskokie.com.

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