Friday, May 18, 2012

WHY IS MY CHICAGO FELONY CASE IN SKOKIE?

You seldom set foot out of the city. You live in Chicago, the crime you allegedly committed took place in Chicago, Chicago police arrested you, and your bond hearing was held in Chicago. But now, you’re heading for your first court date at some place in Skokie or Bridgeview.

Why isn’t your felony case being handled in Chicago?

In Cook County, Chicago felony cases are generally assigned to the Criminal Courts Building at 2600 S. California. However, Chicago is the third largest city in the United States, and that means a comparably large number of felony cases that go through one relatively small building.

According to a 2007 study by the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice, Chicago’s criminal court system handles more than 28,000 felonies per year. Probation handles 23,000 cases per year and the neighboring jail harbors 10,000 inmates awaiting trial. (A Report on Chicago's Felony Courts.) All this falls on the shoulders of the 29 judges currently listed for that courthouse. (Cook County Court Directory.) The 2007 study found that each judge had an average of 275 cases pending at any one time, with little time available for trials.

As a result, something had to give. Any felony case overflow is directed to two suburban courthouses. If your offense took place south of Madison Street, then you could be assigned to the Bridgeview Courthouse at 10220 S. 76th Street. If your offense was north, you may be appearing at the Skokie Courthouse at 5600 Old Orchard Road.

No matter where your case may be heard, it is essential to have an experienced criminal law attorney who is familiar with the judges in that courthouse. Many a defense strategy is based on gauging how a judge might react to your individual situation.

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, May 10, 2012

INTERFERING WITH VISITATION IS A CRIME IN ILLINOIS

You don’t like how your ex-spouse is treating your kids. Or maybe your ex-spouse owes you child support. When they came to pick up the kids for visitation, you simply told them the children were out. Next thing you know, the police are at your door.

In Illinois, Unlawful Visitation or Parenting Time Interference is a petty offense, punishable by a fine. Interfere repeatedly, however, and you can be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Interfering is defined as detaining or concealing a child with the intent of depriving someone of their rights in violation of a court order or judgment. (720 Illinois Compiled Statutes 5/10-5.5) If police have probable cause to believe that you are interfering, they can give notice for you to appear in court. If you fail to appear, the Court can issue a warrant for your arrest.

You can lawfully withhold visitation, however, if you reasonably believe you must do so to protect your child from imminent physical harm. For example, the other parent arrives completely intoxicated and tries to drive off with the children.

The crime of interfering with visitation is closely related to visitation abuse in the family law arena. Under Illinois law, you can be held in contempt by a family law court, or you can be criminally charged. If you are convicted for the crime, the family law judge cannot also find you in contempt. Because of the overlap, you may need to consult a family law attorney as well.

If you are charged with the crime of interfering, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can evaluate your case to determine if you have a defense. Did you intentionally deprive the other parent of visitation? Maybe you had an emergency. Did you have grounds to believe your children were in physical danger? Do not discuss your case with the police or third parties. What you believe is justifiable conduct may not seem reasonable to the judge.

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 For a Child Custody Lawyer's perspective, visit: Can I Deny Visitation If My Spouse Hasn't Paid Child Support or For Other Reasons

(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, May 2, 2012

CAN I BE ARRESTED FOR A MARIJUANA PIPE? ILLINOIS LAW ON DRUG PARAPHERNALIA

The police stopped you for a routine traffic offense. When giving you the ticket, they noticed a marijuana bong on the seat of your car. Or maybe they frisked you and found a couple syringes in your pocket, and you don’t have a medical condition. Now you are under arrest.

Under Illinois law, a person who knowingly possesses drug paraphernalia with the intent of using or preparing drugs is guilty of a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a minimum $750 fine. (720 Illinois Compiled Statutes 600/3.5.) The law does not apply to hypodermic syringes if you are authorized to have them under the Hypodermic Syringes and Needles Act. (720 ILCS 635.) Drug paraphernalia is defined as all equipment, products and materials to be used in planting, growing, manufacturing, converting, testing, injecting, ingesting, packaging or using drugs, except for methamphetamines which is a separate offense.

If you sell your paraphernalia, you can be charged with a Class 4 Misdemeanor, punishable by 1 to 3 years in jail and a $25,000 fine. Sell to a minor and it’s a Class 3 Misdemeanor punishable by 2 to 5 years. If the buyer is pregnant, you can face 3 to 7 years on a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Since the state must prove that you intended to use the paraphernalia to take or make drugs, simply owning a collection of bong pipes may not be enough to convict you. However, any drugs found near or residue on the paraphernalia can be used to show that you had the necessary illegal intent.

If you are charged with possessing paraphernalia, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not discuss your case with third parties or the police. Any statements you make can restrict your options in presenting a defense.

As with other criminal offenses, the state must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. An attorney can examine the evidence for holes in the state’s case. Was the search that revealed the paraphernalia legal? Can the state show that the paraphernalia was yours or that you meant to use it? Even if the state has more than enough evidence to convict you, an attorney can help negotiate a better plea agreement than you might do 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

Source: Illinois Drug Paraphernalia 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.) \