Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"CAN I HELP HIM?:" WHEN YOU ARE ASKED TO CONCEAL EVIDENCE

Your boyfriend just called. He didn’t want to get into the details over the phone, but the police are after him. He wants to know if he can come over and give you something to hold. Or maybe he wants you to go to the trunk of his car and throw something out. You want to help him, but you’re afraid for yourself.

And with good reason. In Illinois, you can be charged with a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 3 years in jail and a $25,000 fine for obstructing justice. (720 Illinois Compiled Statutes 5/31-4.) A person obstructs justice when he or she “destroys, alters, conceals or disguises physical evidence, plants false evidence, furnishes false information….” Obstructing justice also means hiding or leaving the state if you have material knowledge about a crime or causing a witness who has material knowledge to hide or leave the state.

If your loved one does call for help, think carefully. Throwing out the drugs or hiding the money from a crime could land you in just about as much trouble as he or she is. The best way to help your loved one is through immediately consulting attorney. An experienced criminal law attorney can evaluate your loved one’s options. At times, it may be better to turn oneself in under an attorney’s guidance than to wait for the police to make an arrest. In that way, your loved one may time an arrest to avoid spending a weekend in jail waiting for bond court. An attorney can also best advise your loved one how to protect his or her rights during a police investigation.

If you are charged with obstructing justice or think you might be, you should immediately contact an attorney on your own behalf to obtain guidance on how to proceed. Do not speak with anyone other than an attorney about your situation. Any statements made to police or a third party can be used against you. Do not discuss your situation on any electronic media such as Facebook or email. If you are in custody, tell the police “I wish to remain silent. I wish to have an attorney,” in order to trigger your Miranda rights.

If you have questions about a criminal offense, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

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

Monday, March 7, 2011

THE NEW ILLINOIS ORGANIZED RETAIL THEFT LAW

Starting June 1, 2011, Illinois will have tougher laws against organized retail theft rings. In addition to criminal penalties such as fines and jail time, the new law allows a judge to seize a defendant’s money or property.

The new law targets organized crime rings by expanding the definition of a “financial crimes enterprise” to include reselling or trading stolen merchandise.

To be guilty of a “continuing financial crimes enterprise,” you must knowingly commit three or more separate crimes against property (including computer, retail, wire or identity theft) within an 18 month period. (720 Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS) 5/16H-50.) For an organizer, you can be charged when you agree with another person to the commission of 3 or more such crimes within 18 months. (720 ILCS 5/16H-55.) The three separate offenses need not be committed with the same person.

If you are charged with organizing or committing a financial crimes enterprise offense, do not speak with anyone other than an attorney about your situation. Any statements made to police or a third party can be used against you. Do not discuss your situation on any electronic media such as Facebook or email. If you are in custody, tell the police “I wish to remain silent. I wish to have an attorney,” in order to trigger your Miranda rights.

As with any offense, the state must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. An experienced attorney can help evaluate your situation to present a defense. Even if the evidence is overwhelmingly against you, an attorney may assist you in obtaining a more favorable plea bargain.

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