Monday, July 30, 2012

NEW ILLINOIS LAW MAKES RECORDING DRUG CRIMES EASIER

Generally speaking, before undercover police can record their dealings with you, they must persuade a judge to issue a warrant. But a new Illinois law just made that process a little faster and easier. For certain crimes, police need only get an OK from the prosecutor.

Effective January 1, 2013, the new law only applies to the recording of drug crimes or felonies using force committed during a drug crime.

From the viewpoint of criminal defense attorneys, this change could make it much harder to protect the rights of clients. A judge is traditionally required to sign a warrant in order to ensure that an objective party has reviewed the facts and finds sufficient reason to intrude on your privacy. The new law removes that safeguard in favor of a prosecutor who values being tough on crime above all other interests.

On the other hand, recordings can at times help the defense. In numerous DUI cases, for example, the police videos of field sobriety tests may show a client speaking clearly and performing better than the officer reported. Extensive recordings may tend to raise doubts about the guilt of a client.

If you are charged with a drug crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case to see whether police violated your rights and to formulate the best 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.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"I STAYED TOO LONG!:" CRIMINAL TRESPASS TO PROPERTY IN ILLINOIS

You went to a meeting or a party. Things got a little out of hand, and you were asked to leave. Since you weren’t the one making trouble, you refused to go. Next thing you know, you were arrested for criminal trespass to property.

Criminal trespass to property is a Class B misdemeanor in Illinois, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. You commit criminal trespass if a) you illegally enter a building, such as by sneaking into an empty house, b) you go onto someone’s land after the owner warned you to stay away, such as with a no trespassing sign, or c) you stay on someone’s property after you were asked to leave.

If your trespass takes place inside a car, you can be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Farmers also have additional protection. Trespassing on fields with crops or potential crops, livestock areas, orchards or barns is also a Class A misdemeanor.

A recent well-publicized Skokie case (People v Gregory Koger) involved the Ethical Humanist Society Center. The defendant was asked to stop videotaping inside the Center. He continued taping and was asked to leave. Witnesses testified that he struggled with officers, and after warnings, was pepper sprayed. After hearing both state and defense witnesses, a jury found Defendant guilty on all counts. Neither party disputed that the Center was private property.

The Appeals Court dismissed defendant’s contention that he was not guilty because he intended to leave. A charge of Criminal Trespass only requires evidence that you remained on the premises after you were asked to go. Defendant also argued that another person was recording, and no signs warned against recording. The appellate court held that regardless, Defendant had been asked to go.

If you are charged with criminal trespass, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can evaluate your case for a defense. Were you in a public building that you reasonably believed was open? Were you attempting to clean up an abandoned property? Was there an emergency?

Do not discuss your case with police or a third party. What might sound like a reasonable explanation to you give the state evidence to convict you.

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.)

Monday, July 2, 2012

YOU SHOULDN'T TALK AND NEITHER SHOULD YOUR LAWYER!

A standard rule in criminal defense is that clients should not talk about their case to police or third parties. Anything they say can be used as evidence against them. But it’s surprising how many lawyers in high profile cases will ignore this rule to get a little extra publicity for themselves.

Whether you are as innocent as a baby or guilty as John Wayne Gacy, your lawyer has a duty to advocate for your best interests, not the lawyers’ own. Attorneys who make statements to the press could help seal their clients’ convictions.

Case in point: Jerry Sandusky. The Penn State coach was convicted of several counts of child sexual abuse. That might be the right verdict, but his attorney, Joseph Amendola, did not help his case. Amendola told the press he would be surprised if his client was acquitted of all charges: “I would die of a heart attack—shocked—if he was acquitted on all of the charges.” Sandusky’s Attorney Expects Him to Be Convicted on Some Counts. Even worse, Amendola allowed an unprepared Sandusky to appear on nationally televised Bob Costas, an interview that ended up as prosecution evidence.

George Zimmerman’s initial attorneys did him no favors. Before he was charged with the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, Zimmerman’s attorneys held a press conference announcing that they could no longer represent him because they did not know where their client was, thought he had left the state of Florida, and that he wasn’t emotionally in control. Jeffrey Toobin on Zimmerman lawyers.

Almost every experienced criminal defense attorney has inherited cases from another lawyer who did not respect his or her client’s privacy and incriminated their client. If your lawyer seems more interested in press coverage than your best interests, it might be time to hire someone else. 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.)