Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"BUT I JUST TEXTED!": THE LAW ON CYBERSTALKING IN ILLINOIS

UPDATE: The Illinois Appellate Court declared this law unconstitutional on June 24, 2016. See our related post Illinois Stalking and Cyberstalking Laws Declared Unconstitutional.

You broke up with your girlfriend. You still had something you wanted to say. But she wouldn’t talk to you so you kept instant messaging her. Finally, you IMed that she better talk to you “or else.” Now you are charged with cyberstalking.

What is cyberstalking? What can happen to you? What can you do?

In Illinois, you can be charged with cyberstalking if you use electronic media to harass someone else on at least two separate occasions. Electronic media includes texts, emails and voice mails. You must also have knowingly and without lawful justification transmitted a threat of immediate or future bodily harm, confinement or sexual assault against that person or their family or you must have caused that person or their family to reasonably fear immediate or future harm.

And your stalking need not be one on one. It is still cyberstalking if you solicit someone else to do the harassment for you. Additionally, you can be charged if you knowingly and without legal justification maintain an internet page accessible to more than one person for at least 24 hours that 1) threatens someone, 2) causes them or their family to fear immediate or future harm or 3) solicits others to harm that person or their family.

Cyberstalking on a first offense is a Class 4 felony punishable by 1 to 4 years in prison. Further offenses are a Class 3 felony punishable by 2 to 5 years in prison.

If you are charged with cyberstalking, consult an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not talk about your case with the police or third parties. Do not try to explain yourself. You may just end up digging yourself in deeper. What you think is justification might give the prosecution the evidence they need to convict you.

An experienced attorney can review your case to help you present the best possible defense. As with most criminal charges, the state must prove you guilty of all the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Did you act knowingly? Were your actions without legal justification? Did your statements go beyond harassment? Was the victim’s fear of bodily harm reasonable? Was the internet page posted without your knowledge?

Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an experienced attorney who is respected at the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

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

See: 720 ILCS 5/12-7.5: Cyberstalking.

(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, June 17, 2014

"I DIDN'T STEAL IT!": PROVING BURGLARY IN ILLINOIS

You bought a couple I-phones from an acquaintance. You thought they were his, but it turned out he had recently stolen them from a store and then he disappeared. Now the police have charged you with the burglary.

What can happen to you? What can you do?

The crime of burglary in Illinois involves stealing from a place. (720 ILCS 5/19-1.) If you knowingly enter or remain in a building without permission with the intent to commit a felony or theft, you may be charged with a Class 2 felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison. If the building was a day care, school or church, your charges can be upgraded to Aggravated Burglary, a Class 1 felony, punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison.

But you didn’t steal the phones and you were never in the store. Can they still convict you? As with most other crimes, the state must prove you guilty of every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. The fact you have the recently stolen I-phones may not be enough to convict you of their burglary unless 1) there is a rational connection between your possession of the stolen property and your participation in a burglary, 2) your guilt of the burglary more likely than not flowed from your recent, unexplained and exclusive possession of the proceeds, and 3) there was corroborating evidence of your guilt.

In a recent Illinois Appellate case, the court reversed the defendant’s conviction because the evidence was insufficient to infer that the defendant had committed the burglary based on his unexplained and exclusive possession of some auto parts. The prosecution could not prove that the items the defendant possessed were the same as the recently stolen parts or that he even entered the store where they had been taken. (See People v Terrance Smith.)

If you are charged with burglary or a related crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review the evidence for weaknesses in the state’s case and help you put on the best possible defense. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an experienced 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.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

THE ILLINOIS LAW ON HOT PURSUIT

When you saw the siren, you panicked. You knew you were near the city limits or the state border and you thought if you crossed it, the police would have to stop just like in the movies.

Can police follow you across jurisdictional lines? For the most part, they can although the rules for out of state and in-state police are somewhat different.

Police from outside Illinois have the same authority to arrest you inside Illinois as an Illinois officer if they are in hot pursuit. (725 ILCS 5/107-4). Hot pursuit is defined as the immediate pursuit of a suspect who is avoiding arrest. The officer need not have you in view the entire time, but must have uninterrupted knowledge of your whereabouts and must proceed without unreasonable delay. The officer’s jurisdiction must share a border with the place where you fled.

Once arrested, the officer must bring you before the circuit court in the county where you were arrested in order to determine whether the arrest was lawful.

Inside Illinois, police may arrest you anywhere in the state for a crime committed inside their jurisdiction. (725 ILCS 5/107-5). Illinois case law has held that police may make an arrest in an adjoining jurisdiction where the officer has probable cause to believe that the accused committed an offense in the officer’s jurisdiction. This is true even though the officer merely entered the adjoining jurisdiction because of some suspicious activity and was not then in fresh pursuit of the offender. People v Carraher.

Police, however, cannot arrest you for a crime committed outside their jurisdiction. A recent Illinois case held that Chicago police could not arrest a Maywood defendant where the criminal act, police surveillance, search and arrest all took place in Maywood. People v Harrell.

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, June 3, 2014

RESIDENTIAL BURGLARY IN ILLINOIS: WHEN A HOME IS NOT A DWELLING

A person commits residential burglary in Illinois when he or she knowingly without permission enters or stays within someone else's dwelling intending to commit a felony or theft. Residential burglary in Illinois is a Class 1 felony.

If your burglary is not within a dwelling, then you may be eligible for the lesser charge of simple burglary, a Class 2 felony. So how do you know whether the home you were in was really a dwelling?

The residential burglary statute defines a dwelling as "a house, apartment, mobile home, trailer, or other living quarters in which at the time of the alleged offense the owners or occupants actually reside or in their absence intend within a reasonable period of time to reside." (720 ILCS 5/2-6(b), 19-3(a).)

Under Illinois case law, a home is not a dwelling if the owners have moved away and do not intend to return, even if the property is up for sale and may be occupied at some later time. See People v Brett Roberts. Further, a building owned by a real estate developer was not a dwelling even though the developer visited the premises and planned on remodeling. See People v Marcello Moore. In either case, there were no specific individuals who lived there or intended to move in.

If you are charged with burglary, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case to help you present the best possible defense. As with most criminal charges, the state must prove every element of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. With residential burglary, the state must prove that the building is a dwelling. Otherwise, at the very least, your charges must be reduced.

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.

Also see: Illinois Burglary Statute.

(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.)