Tuesday, May 28, 2013

THE COOK COUNTY VETERANS TREATMENT COURT HELPS VETERANS WITH DRUG, DUI OR OTHER NONVIOLENT CRIMES

As a veteran of the United States Military, you may qualify for a special program to help deal with your criminal or DUI charges.

The Cook County Veterans Treatment Court program aims to prevent veterans from returning to the criminal justice system and to improve their quality of life. The program recognizes that those who have served their country may suffer from post-traumatic stress or other traumas. (The Lake County Circuit Court operates a similar program.)

In order to participate, you must obtain court approval. Your criminal defense attorney can help you navigate through this process.

As a veteran, you are eligible for the program provided you show willingness to participate, your crime is non-violent, you have no convictions for violent crime within the last ten years, and you haven’t been through the program in the last three years.

Once accepted, you must sign a contract with the court. You must participate in any treatment recommended by the Veterans Court Treatment Team. You must avoid alcohol and other illegal substances and submit to random drug testing. You cannot possess any weapon or commit another crime. You must report to your VA case manager and probation worker and appear at all court dates. You may also have community service. If you fail to comply with these requirements, the court may impose extra penalties.

While the program may seem tough, the program it is a real alternative to any criminal sentence you might otherwise receive. In some cases, completion of the program may result in a clean slate.

For more information, see Veterans Treatment Court. For an article on Lake County’s program, see Lake County Veterans Treatment Court Begins.

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, May 13, 2013

HELPING REPEAT DRUG POSSESSION OFFENDERS: THE COOK COUNTY DRUG COURT TREATMENT PROGRAM

You were sentenced to probation for possession of cocaine. One condition of your sentence was to provide urine drops for drug testing. But you dropped dirty, this time with heroin, and now you face charges of violating probation, as well as possible jail time.

What can happen to you? What can you do?

For starters, if found guilty, you can be resentenced on the original offense as well as on the violation. You should contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately to evaluate your options. (See our related post In Trouble Again: When You Have Violated Your Probation or Supervision.) Even if your options for fighting the violation are limited, however, you may be eligible for the Cook County Drug Court Treatment Program.

Enrollment in the Program is not automatic. It requires approval of the prosecutor and the judge. Your attorney can help you obtain the approval and negotiate the terms.

The Program is intended to help nonviolent felony drug possession offenders stay clean. If eligible, you could receive two years of probation instead of a trip to jail. You can only participate in the program if you admit you have a problem and show willingness to get treatment. Your offense cannot involve violence, and you may not have any convictions for violent crime within the last 10 years.

The Program’s requirements are rigorous and take place in four phases with different requirements for each phase. You must obtain treatment, submit to frequent urinalysis testing, participate in treatment, appear frequently in court and check in regularly with your probation officer. You may have to perform community service. Once successfully completed, you can participate in a graduation ceremony and your probation will be terminated as satisfactory. If you fail to complete the program, however, you can be penalized severely.

For more information on the program, see Drug Court Treatment Program.

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 9, 2013

FROM BAD TO WORSE: AGGRAVATING FACTORS FOR DRUG DEALING CRIMES IN ILLINOIS

In Illinois, the penalties for knowingly manufacturing, delivering or possessing with intent to deliver a controlled substance can be stiff enough. But selling drugs to the wrong person or in the wrong place can make a bad situation worse--in some cases even doubling your prison time.

Here are some factors that can affect the severity of the charges against you:

1) Selling to Minors: If you are an adult and you sell to a minor, you may be sentenced to twice the maximum prison term and twice the maximum fine. (720 ILCS 570/407.)

2) Using Minors to Sell: If you use your underage friend to make your deal, you can face three times the maximum prison term. (720 ILCS 570/407.1)

3) Pregnant Women: If you know she’s pregnant, you can get double the time depending on the type of drugs. (720 ILCS 570/407.2.)

4) Truck Stops or Rest Areas: Your prison time and fine can be doubled for dealing within 1,000 feet of a truck stop or rest area if you have a prior conviction for the same offense. (720 ILCS 570/407)

5) Public schools, parks, property owned by a public housing agency, nursing homes, churches, synagogues, senior centers: Delivering drugs within 1,000 feet of any of these facilities can upgrade your crime. For example, a Class 1 offense, for possessing less than 15 grams of heroin with intent to deliver, can become a Class X felony with increased prison time and double the fines. It does not matter if school was out and no kids were in sight. (720 ILCS 570/407.)

6) Subsequent offenses: A second or later conviction can double your prison term and fine. (720 ILCS 570/408.)

If you are charged with a drug crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not discuss your case with anyone, especially not the police. Trying to talk your way out of the situation might end up giving the prosecution the evidence they need to convict you.

An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Did the police have probable cause to stop you? Was the search that uncovered the drugs legal? If not, an attorney may have grounds to challenge your arrest and hopefully get the evidence against you suppressed. Did you knowingly intend to deliver the drugs? As with most crimes, the state has the burden of proving you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. You may have divided the drugs into separate parcels, but can the state prove you were preparing to sell? An attorney can look for holes in state’s evidence in the hope of winning an acquittal.

Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may help negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own. If you have questions about this or another 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, May 7, 2013

"IT'S JUST FOR ME.": THE CRIME OF POSSESSION OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE IN ILLINOIS

Illinois law is geared toward punishing the big-time drug trafficker more than the small-time user. Nevertheless, it is a crime to knowingly possess a controlled substance, and the penalties can be quite severe. What can happen to you? What can you do?

Illinois law bars you from knowingly possessing a controlled substance. The degree of the charges and the punishment depend on the type of drug and the amount. (720 Illinois Compiled Statutes 570/402).

If you possess less than 15 grams of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, morphine or LSD, you can be charged with a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 3 years in jail and fined up to $25,000. More than 15 grams of these substances or more than 200 grams of barbiturates, amphetamines or peyote is a Class 1 felony. Your sentence can increase according to the amount you possess. Up to 100 grams is punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison while more than 900 grams is punishable by 10 to 50 years. In addition, if you possess with intent to deliver more than 100 grams, you may be fined up to $200,000 or the full street value of the drugs.

If you are charged with a drug crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not discuss your case with anyone, especially not the police. What you think is a reasonable explanation might be used against you as an admission of guilt.

An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Did the police have probable cause to stop you? Was the search that uncovered the drugs legal? If not, an attorney may have grounds to challenge your arrest and hopefully get the evidence against you suppressed.

Did you knowingly possess the drugs? As with most crimes, the state has the burden of proving you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Maybe other people had regular access to the closet where the drugs were found. An attorney can look for holes in the state’s evidence in hope of winning an acquittal. For more information regarding the type of evidence needed for a conviction, see our blog at The Drugs Aren’t Mine: When You Are Charged With Possession of Narcotics.

Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may help negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own. If you have questions about this or another 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, May 6, 2013

JUST A LITTLE COCAINE: THE CRIME OF DRUG DEALING IN ILLINOIS

The police pulled you over for blowing a stop sign. Unfortunately, they saw some plastic baggies containing powder lying on the floor of your car. Now you are charged with possessing with intent to deliver a controlled substance. What can happen to you? What can you do?

Illinois law bars you from knowingly manufacturing, delivering or possessing with intent to deliver a controlled substance. The severity of the charges and the punishment depend on the type of drug and the amount. (720 ILCS 570/401). These penalties are also a step up from a charge of simple possession.

If you possess with intent to deliver less than 15 grams of heroin, fentanyl, or cocaine, 10-15 grams of morphine or 5-15 grams of LSD, you can be charged with a Class 1 felony, punishable by 4 to15 years in jail and fined up to $250,000. More than 15 grams of these substances or more than 200 grams of barbiturates, amphetamine or peyote is a Class X felony. Your sentence can increase according to the amount you possess. Up to 100 grams is punishable by 6 to 30 years in prison while more than 900 grams is punishable by 30 to 60 years. In addition, if you possess with intent to deliver more than 100 grams, you may be fined up to $500,000 or the full street value of the drugs.

Illinois law also classifies different drugs on “Schedules.” These schedules contain long list of pharmaceutical names and can be tricky. Where your drug fits on which schedule can determine whether you have a Class 2 or Class 3 Felony and the maximum amount you may be fined. For example, Schedule I-type opiates are a Class 2 felony punishable by 3 to 7 years and up to a $200,000 fine. A Schedule V drug can be a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years and up to $75,000.

The penalties against you can also be increased if you deal to the wrong person such as a minor or pregnant woman or you deal in the wrong place such as a school or rest area. For more information on factors that can affect your sentence, see our related post at From Bad To Worse: Aggravating Factors for Drug Dealing Crimes in Illinois.

If you are charged with a drug crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not discuss your case with anyone, especially not the police. Trying to explain the presence of the drugs might only dig you in deeper.

An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Did the police have probable cause to stop you? Was the search that uncovered the drugs legal? If not, an attorney may have grounds to challenge your arrest and hopefully get the evidence against you suppressed.

Did you knowingly intend to deliver the drugs? As with most crimes, the state has the burden of proving you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. You may have divided the drugs into separate parcels, but can the state prove you were preparing to sell? An attorney can look for holes in state’s evidence in the hopes of winning an acquittal.

Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may help negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another 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.)