Monday, February 18, 2013

THE NEW COOK COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT CELL PHONE BAN

Cook County Circuit Court has a new security rule at the courthouse.

As of April 15, 2013, visitors to any Cook County Courthouse other than the Richard J. Daley Center can no longer bring in cell phones or electronic communications devices. The ban prohibits cell phones, laptop computers, smart phones or any other device capable of connecting to the internet. Anyone found in violation of this rule can be held in contempt of court. For more information, see our related website page at Court Appearances and see the Cook County Circuit Court website at: Electronic Communication and Internet Devices Banned from All Circuit Court of Cook County Courthouses Except Daley Center.

There are exceptions. Attorneys, judges, persons with disabilities, news media, vendors, repair people and law enforcement are among those allowed to bring in such devices provided they can show proper identification. You may also bring in your phone if you are involved in a domestic violence situation.

The new rule goes into effect April 15, 2013. Judge Timothy Evans explained that the ban was in response to judges’ concerns that cell phones were used to improperly photograph witnesses, jurors and judges. Panic in the Court!. Cell phones were also used to transmit judge’s comments or witness testimony to those outside the courtroom. Potential witnesses are often excluded from the courtroom while others are testifying in order to prevent influencing their testimony.

DuPage County already bans cell phones or communication devices in the courthouse. Lake County allows you to bring in your phone but not to use it in the courtroom.

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, February 11, 2013

THE CRIME OF DISORDERLY CONDUCT IN ILLINOIS

When most people think of disorderly conduct, they think of some drunk flailing about, swearing on the sidewalk. Disorderly conduct is the kind of catch-all crime that enables the police to arrest you if they can’t exactly pin you down on some other charge.

But disorderly conduct can also mean peeping in windows, phoning in a false bomb threat or police report and can range in severity from a slap on the wrist to several years in prison.

The most common type of disorderly conduct is alarming or disturbing another or provoking a breach of the peace. (See: 720 Illinois Compiled Statutes 5/26-1.) A recent example is a November, 2012 brawl between several high school students in a Skokie park. (See: Chicago Tribune: 29 Students Involved in Skokie Brawl. Disorderly conduct may also include screaming or swearing loudly in public or throwing things in a store. This type of disorderly conduct is a Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine. If you are peeping into windows for an unlawful or lewd purpose, you can be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Disorderly conduct becomes a felony when you make threats or false reports. If you call in a false fire alarm, request for ambulance, crime report, 911 alert or false child abuse claim, you can be charged with a Class 4 Felony, punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison. Threats of violence against school or school personnel is also a Class 4 Felony. A false bomb threat escalates to a Class 3 Felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years.

Besides potential jail and fines, the court must order at least 30 hours of community service. If your offense involved a bomb threat, you can be ordered to pay back the costs of any emergency response.

If you are charged with disorderly conduct, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. As with most other crimes, the state must prove you guilty of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. The disorderly conduct law requires that you acted knowingly. Maybe you really believed someone was in trouble when you phoned in that 911 report or looked through their window.

Even if the evidence is overwhelmingly against you, an experienced attorney who is respected at 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.)