Monday, August 25, 2014

"I CLICKED ON THE WRONG SITE!": THE ILLINOIS LAW ON CHILD CYBER-PORNOGRAPHY

You were browsing some adult content sites on your computer when you came across some links to other photos. You clicked on the links and to your horror, they were photos of children in suggestive poses. Somehow, the police found out and now you are charged with child pornography.

What can happen to you? What can you do?

The Illinois Child Pornography law prohibits the obscene use of children ranging from taking the photos to soliciting the models. But what if you came across the photos accidentally online?

Illinois law specifies that it is illegal to knowingly possess any “film, videotape, photograph or other similar reproduction or depiction by computer of any child” whom you reasonably should know was under age 18. (This offense also includes depictions of severely intellectually disabled adults.) Each separate photo or computer depiction can be charged as a separate offense.

You may have a defense if you reasonably believed the child in the image was over age 18 after you made diligent inquiry. Your possession of the images must also be voluntary. However, possession is considered voluntary if you had the image long enough that you could have terminated your possession.

If the computer image you possessed was a photo, you can be charged with a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years in prison. If the child was under age 13, the offense is upgraded to a Class 2 felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years. The offense is also a Class 2 felony if the images were a film or video.

Besides prison and fines, the Court may order you to register as a sex offender, which can bar you from many normal activities such as choosing where you live, who you visit or where you work.

If you are charged with child pornography, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not make any statements to a third party or the police. An attorney can review your options and help you determine the best possible defense.

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.

See: Illinois Child Pornography Law.

(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 11, 2014

SECOND CHANCE PROBATION IN ILLINOIS

You’ve never done anything wrong before, but when you did, the crime was a big one. Maybe the cost of the designer jeans you shoplifted upgraded you into felony territory. Or you had just a little too much pot or narcotics on your person to qualify for a misdemeanor.

Under certain circumstances, second chance probation might allow you to avoid the stigma of a criminal record following you for the rest of your life.

As of January 1, 2014, Illinois allows second chance probation to be offered for certain felony offenses. To qualify, you cannot have a past felony conviction or a criminal record involving a violent crime which includes domestic battery, possessing a firearm, sex offenses, stalking or DUI. If your current felony involves violence, a sex offense or DUI, you also would not be eligible. However, for certain Class 3 and Class 4 felonies involving drugs, retail theft or criminal damage to property, there may be light at the end of the tunnel.

Like coupons, you cannot combine these types of leniency programs. If you’ve had second chance probation or a similar program, you may not be eligible again.

Second chance probation is not given automatically. You should still consider retaining an attorney to help you qualify. An attorney can help present your situation in the best possible light to demonstrate that you deserve that second chance.

If you get second chance probation, the judge must sentence you to at least two years of probation. During that time, you cannot violate any criminal statutes or possess a firearm or dangerous weapon. You may also have to repay the victim, pay fines and court costs, perform at least 30 hours of community service, get a job, graduate from high school and submit to drug testing.

If you do complete the program, the case against you will be dismissed, which will enable you to avoid that felony conviction on your record.

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

See Illinois Second Chance Probation 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.)