Monday, August 20, 2012

NEW ILLINOIS LAW CRACKS DOWN ON SPEEDERS ONCE AGAIN

A new Illinois law has cracked down on speeders even more.

Speeding first became criminalized as a misdemeanor in 2011. Driving more than 31 miles over the limit was upgraded to a Class B Misdemeanor, while speeding 40 and over became a Class A. While a Class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in jail, a Class A is punishable by up to one year. Both carry maximum fines of $2,500.

In a bid to crack down on lead-footed drivers further, the new law bars you from receiving supervision if you speed over 25 miles in an urban district and more than 30 miles over on a highway. Supervision is essentially a warning to stay out of trouble and is not considered a conviction for criminal law or insurance purposes. Now, if you plead or are found guilty of speeding over 25 miles in an urban area, the judge must convict you.

If you are charged with a speeding or other traffic or criminal offense, you should contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review the facts of your case to see if you have a defense. Even if you do not, an attorney who enjoys a good reputation in the court house may be able to obtain a better plea arrangement than you can 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.)

Monday, August 13, 2012

HOW LITTLE PROBLEMS BECOME BIG PROBLEMS: WHEN A PETTY OFFENSE TURNS INTO A MISDEMEANOR OR FELONY

A man was walking down the middle of a road instead of the sidewalk or shoulder. In Illinois, you must use a sidewalk where provided or at least walk on the shoulder. The man was arrested for a petty offense, comparable to a minor traffic violation. Back at the police station, the man was searched, and the police found cocaine in his sock.

The Illinois Supreme Court recently upheld the arrest and search of the man in this case, even though the arrest was for a mere petty offense, punishable only by a fine. The Court denied Defendant’s motion to suppress the results of the search, that is the cocaine, and the man went to jail on felony charges for 3 years. People v Fitzpatrick.

More commonly, you could be stopped for blowing a stop sign or failing to signal. In one Illinois Supreme Court case, a driver was stopped because she did not have a rear registration light. The officer brought a drug-sniffing dog to the scene, and drugs were found. Under a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court decision, police are allowed to change the nature of a traffic stop as long as it does not unduly delay the length of the traffic stop. In other words, police can stop you for going through a red light and then question you about drugs or weapons as long as the stop doesn’t last too long.

In the Illinois case, the Court held that the 15 minutes it took to get the drug sniffing dog did not unreasonably prolong the traffic stop. That means in 15 minutes, your blown-out tail light could turn into serious felony charges if officers find the wrong kind of drugs.

After being charged with a DUI or other crime, many clients believe they will be extra careful and will avoid trouble. But the above cases show how easy it is to get trapped by law enforcement on a minor offense that leads to big trouble for you. Besides being charged with the new crime, you can also be violated on your existing offense, giving you a triple whammy.

If the new offense aggravates any of your old offenses, your misdemeanor could turn into a felony with more severe jail time.

If you are charged with a criminal, traffic or DUI offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can evaluate the facts of your situation to look for weaknesses in the state’s case and help you present the best defense possible. The state must still prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able 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.)

Monday, August 6, 2012

THEY'RE WATCHING!: HOW STORES COMBAT RETAIL THEFT

Retail theft can cost U.S. retailers about $10 billion a year. Because of that, stores use a variety of methods to stop you from swiping their merchandise.

Stores such as Whole Foods may use plain clothes security. You don’t realize that shopper down the aisle is really keeping an eye on your behavior. Are you watching the cashier more than you are shopping? Do you seem nervous? Are you wearing unusually warm or bulky clothes on a hot day?

Other stores, such as Macy’s, use security cameras. These cameras are not stationery. Store personnel zoom in on you if you seem suspicious, and they can pick up a surprising amount of detail.

Stores also rely on security tags to set off alarms if you leave the premises, two-way mirrors to prevent theft in the dressing room, and security alert codes to let store personnel know of a suspicious shopper.

No matter how you are caught, an arrest for retail theft can be embarrassing and scary. Illinois law takes retail theft very seriously. Stealing more than $300 in merchandise bumps you up to a Class 3 felony, punishable by two to five years in jail. Less than $300 is still a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year for a first offense, and a Class 4 Felony, punishable by 1 to 3 years for subsequent offenses. You can also get sued in civil court for the cost of the merchandise plus attorney fees.

If you are arrested for retail theft, call an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not attempt to explain yourself to store security or police. What you think sounds like a reasonable explanation may become a confession to the crime. Do not discuss your case with third parties, or they could be called in as witnesses against you.

An experienced criminal law attorney will review your case to determine the best strategy for your defense. Even if the evidence is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected at the courthouse may be able to get you 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.)

Source: http://retail.about.com.