Wednesday, August 14, 2013

ILLINOIS CRACKS DOWN ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE OFFENDERS

As of January 1, 2014, those accused of domestic violence could face more severe penalties. A change in Illinois law stiffens the charges against repeat offenders.

Domestic battery is defined as knowingly and without legal justification causing bodily harm or making physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with a household or family member. A first offense is a Class A Misdmeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. Subsequent offenses were a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 3 years.

The change in the law, however, comes into play when you have more than two prior domestic battery convictions. If you have three prior convictions, your offense is now a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years in jail. Four or more convictions is a Class 2 felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years. Illinois law already provided a mandatory 72 hours of jail time on a second or subsequent conviction.

If you are charged with domestic battery, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not communicate with others or the police about your case. Any attempt to explain yourself may come across as though you are trying to blame the victim and may give the prosecution the evidence they need to convict you. You should also make every effort to avoid direct or third-party contact with the complaining witnesss, since it may well exacerbate an already difficult situation.

An experienced criminal law attorney can review your case to determine the best possible defense. Was the physical contact truly insulting? Did you have legal justification? Perhaps you really were acting in self defense. Was the person a member of your household? Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an experienced attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to work out 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.

For more information, see Revised Domestic Battery Law and Governor Quinn Signs Law to Crack down on Domesric Violence in Illinois.

(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 5, 2013

MEDICAL MARIJUANA LEGALIZED IN ILLINOIS

On August 2, 2013, Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn signed the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act. But this does not mean that home growers or casual users can inhale easily.

The law creates a four-year pilot program which goes into effect January 1, 2014. Under the law, patients with debilitating medical conditions may obtain marijuana from one of 60 licensed dispensaries. The law specifies 35 eligible medical conditions including cancer, Parkinson’s, glaucoma, lupus, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and AIDS.

Patients or doctors may not grow their own cannabis but may purchase up to 2.5 ounces every two weeks from a dispensary. Marijuana will be grown in licensed cultivation centers, one for each of Illinois’s 22 police districts. Centers must be at least 2,500 feet away from schools or daycare facilities and must have 24-hour surveillance and inventory controls.

Even if you quality for registrered use, you may not possess the pot in a school, school bus, day care, or correctional facility. Nor may you keep it in your car unless it is sealed and inaccessible to you while driving.

You may not smoke publicly or in a motor vehicle, school bus, school, correctional facility, day care, or knowingly near a minor. You may not operate a motor vehicle while under the influence or otherwise act negligently. The new law creates a bit of a dilemma since it is currently illegal to drive in Illinois with any traces of marijuana in your system, and if you were in an accident, it is unresolved how judges will treat you.

You may not give or sell your cannabis to others or fraudulently try to obtain a registration card or knowingly obtain more than your allotted amount.

A business, school or university may still bar the use of medical marijuana.

If you fail to comply with the law, you may be charged with any criminal penalties for unlawful possession or sale, along with fines and additional offenses.

If you are charged with violating the new law, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can review your case to help devise the best possible defense. Perhaps you had marijuana in the car, but the police lacked the probable cause to stop you. Or you did not know you were too close to a minor when you were smoking.

If you have questions about your particular case or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

For more information, see Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act.

(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.)