Monday, October 17, 2011

ILLINOIS AGGRAVATED BATTERY LAW

In Illinois, you commit simple battery if you knowingly, without legal justification, physically hurt another person or cause contact of an offensive nature, such as grabbing at them. Simple battery is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail.

But there is a whole host of ways in which simple battery can be upgraded to a more serious aggravated battery charge. Aggravation can be based on the type of injury, the type of victim or the place of the offense. Charges can range from a Class 3 to a Class X Felony with a penalty range of 3 to 60 years in prison. If guns are involved, you could face a minimum prison term of 20 years and have up to 25 years added to any sentence if you harmed a child under the age of 13.

You can be upgraded to aggravated battery if you knowingly strangle someone or cause great bodily harm, disfigurement or severe and permanent disability. This includes injury from a bomb, flammable gas, poison or throwing a caustic substance such as lye at someone.

Even if the injury was not severe, aggravation can be based on the victim’s status. It is aggravated battery to harm a child, mentally retarded or handicapped person, pregnant woman, senior citizen over age 60 or a teacher. The charge is also enhanced if you harm a State of Illinois or school district official, police officer, firefighter, community policing volunteer, prison official or security guard when they are performing their duties or if you are retaliating against them because of those duties. Persons protected also include taxi drivers while on duty or a merchant detaining you for retail theft. And as of January 1, 2014, the Illinois legislature added nurses in the performance of their duties to the list.

You can be charged with aggravated battery if the offense took place in a public place, a sports venue or a domestic violence shelter.

There are also enhanced penalties for shooting someone with a gun or machine gun.

If you are charged with battery or a similar offense, contact a criminal law attorney immediately. Do not speak to the police or anyone else about your situation either orally or by electronic media such as texting or Facebook. Just like in the cop shows, anything you say may be used against you. A criminal law attorney can carefully review the law and the evidence against you to help devise the best strategy for your defense. Maybe you were acting in self defense. Maybe the firefighter you hurt was off duty.

Even if the evidence is overwhelming, an experienced attorney may to negotiate a better plea agreement than you could on your own.

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.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

“I HIT A COP!:” AGGRAVATED ASSAULT OR AGGRAVATED BATTERY TO AN OFFICER IN ILLINOIS

You must have been really drunk because you don’t remember what happened. But apparently, you went berserk and hit a police officer. The officer even ended up in the emergency room. Now, you are charged with aggravated battery.

What is the law? What can you do?

In Illinois, you can be charged with aggravated assault if you knowingly cause a police officer to reasonably fear that you are going to cause bodily harm while the officer is performing their duties. For example, maybe you threatened to hit the officer or you pointed a gun at them. Aggravated assault is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. If you used a gun, blackjack, shotgun or other weapon in threatening the officer, you can be charged with a Class 4 Felony, punishable by 1 to 3 years in jail.

If you actually harm the officer or make contact of an insulting nature such as grabbing at them, you can be charged with aggravated battery. If you did not cause great bodily harm, disfigurement or permanent disability, the charge is a Class 2 Felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years. If the police officer was seriously harmed, you can face a Class 1 Felony, punishable by 4 to 15 years. If you hurt the officer while shooting a gun, you are now eligible for a Class X felony, with a mandatory minimum prison term of 15 years. If you used a machine gun, the minimum prison term increases to 20 years.

As you can imagine, prosecutors and judges take attacks on police officers very seriously, but your situation may not be hopeless.

If you are charged with aggravated assault or aggravated battery to an officer, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. As with other crimes, the State must still prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. An attorney can help review your options for a defense. For example, Illinois law requires that you knew the person was an officer and that they were engaged in their official duties. If the officer was off duty or in plain clothes, you may have a defense.

Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an experienced attorney, familiar with the judge and prosecutors, may be able to negotiate a more beneficial plea bargain than you could on your own.

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.)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

IMPERSONATING PUBLIC OFFICIALS: BIG TROUBLE

Pretending to be someone you are not may bring you applause on stage and screen, but in real life, impersonation can be a serious criminal offense.

Illinois prohibits impersonating a police officer, firefighter, emergency management worker, attorney, veteran, parent/legal guardian or airplane pilot. The State takes these offenses so seriously that some laws were toughened in 2006 with unanimous House legislative approval in response to a Chicago Sun-Times series reporting that more than 1,000 police impersonations had taken place in Illinois within a three year period.

In Illinois, falsely and knowingly impersonating a peace officer is a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 3 years in jail and a $25,000 fine. Besides police, a peace officer includes U.S. Marshals, Internal Revenue Service, postal service, drug enforcement and immigration employees. If you were using a vehicle with flashing or oscillating lights, the charge is upgraded to a Class 2 felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years and a $25,000 fine. If you were carrying a deadly weapon, the charge is a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years and a $25,000 fine. If you were engaged in a felony, you could be charged with Aggravated False Personation of a Peace Officer, a Class 1 or Class 2 felony, depending on the nature of the crime. The impersonation charge would be in addition to any charges brought for the underlying felony.

Even duplicating a law officer’s badge is illegal. You can be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year and $2,500 for making, selling or distributing false law enforcement badges, unless they are used for a memento or collection, exhibition, decoration or dramatic purpose such as for a play.

Impersonating a firefighter is also a Class 4 felony, upgraded to a Class 3 if you were carrying a deadly weapon and to a Class 2 for Aggravated Personation if you were committing a felony at the time.

Impersonating an emergency management or American Red Cross worker is a Class 4 felony, unless you were engaged in a felony, in which case it is Aggravated Personation and a Class 3 felony.

Anyone who pretends to be a pilot, airline employee or a contractor to gain access to restricted areas of the airport can be charged with a Class 4 felony. Impersonating an attorney is also a Class 4, while falsely presenting yourself as a parent or legal guardian to a public or school official is a Class A Misdemeanor.

If you were thinking that pretending you are a veteran will help you get a job, you could be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor.

If you are charged with impersonation, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately for help. Do not discuss your case with the police or anyone else. Any statements you make can be used against you and may complicate your defense. Remember, the state must prove you are guilty of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. An experienced criminal law attorney can review your situation for weaknesses in the state’s case and help devise the best possible strategy for your defense.
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.)