Saturday, December 31, 2016

EXPERT DISCREDITS EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY IN MURDER TRIAL

In March, 2016, we blogged on an Illinois Supreme Court case that opened the door to allowing experts to dispute the reliability of eyewitness testimony. (See How Reliable is Eyewitness Testimony?). Because of that case, People v Lerma, such an expert was permitted to testify in a Palatine murder trial, which resulted in a verdict of not guilty.

According to the Chicago Tribune (High court opens door to experts who say eyewitness IDs are unreliable), defendant Marco Lopez was accused of the 2014 shooting deaths of a man and his son. The state’s case relied primarily on eyewitness testimony. The state did not have a murder weapon, DNA or other physical evidence against the defendant.

One witness said they saw the defendant through a glass door about 10 feet away after midnight. Expert Geoffrey Loftus testified that conditions such as lighting, the length of an event and pre-event information could affect an eyewitness in recognizing someone they know. (Loftus conducts experiments on memory and sensory perception at University of Washington-Seattle). As a result, the jury acquitted the defendant.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced crminal law attorney immediately. As with most crimes, the state has the burden to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt on all the elements of the offense. An attorney can review your case and determine which experts, if any, could help your defense. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in 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.

(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, December 5, 2016

A FORMER SCHOOL CAN STILL BE A SCHOOL UNDER ILLINOIS DRUG LAW

(Update: Effective January 1, 2018, the Illinois legislature reduced the distance required from the school to 500 feet. The amended law further requires that at the time of the violation, persons under 18 are present or reasonably expected to be present or that school is in session.)

Under Illinois law, the penalties are increased if you knowingly manufacture, deliver or possess with intent to deliver a controlled substance such as heroin or cocaine when you are within 1,000 feet of a school building. For example, a Class 1 felony can be upgraded to a Class X.

These penalties can be raised even if school is not in session, and no children are present. Now, a new Illinois Appellate case has held that a school is still a school under this law even if the building no longer operates as a school.

In People v Tolliver, the defendant argued that his drug charges should not be upgraded because the Chicago Public Schools had closed the school in question. The Court disagreed, stating that the building still had the identity of a school and would still draw neighborhood children to its premises.

The court considered the following factors: (i) ownership and maintenance by Chicago Public Schools, (ii) purpose, (iii) design, (iv) site characteristics (including school grounds), and (iv) its recognized place within the surrounding neighborhood. After weighing these factors, the court upheld defendant's conviction of the aggravated offense.

If you are charged with a drug-related 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 a 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.

Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in 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 criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

See our related school law blog: North Shore School 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.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

CAN YOU BE CONVICTED OF BOTH AGGRAVATED UNLAWFUL USE OF A WEAPON AND NOT HAVING A FOID CARD?

The answer is yes.

You may be convicted of both charges even though your Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon (AUUW) is based on not having a valid Firearm’s Owner Identification card (FOID). The elements of the two crimes are somewhat different and therefore, they create separate offenses. (See People v Schweihs).

Under the Illinois AAUW law, you can be charged if you knowingly carry a firearm on your person or vehicle except if you are on your own land, home or fixed place of business or someone else permits you to carry the weapon on their property. (See Aggravated Unlawful Use of Weapon).

The FOID law requires that you have a FOID Card previously issued by the Illinois State Police in your name in order to acquire or possess any firearm, stun gun, or taser within Illinois. (See FOID Card Act).

The difference between the two laws involves your location, which is an additional element required under the AAUW law. For example, if you possess the firearm in your own home without a FOID card, you may be charged with failing to have a valid ID but not AUUW. Once you leave your own premises, the AUUW may now come into play.

If you are charged with a weapons offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not talk to the police or try to “explain” your way out of your offense. You could give the state the evidence it needs to prosecute you. An experienced attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the court house 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.

(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.)

Friday, October 28, 2016

GETTING YOUR CAR BACK: THE ILLINOIS LAW ON FORFEITURE

After you were arrested for a drug or another offense, the state took a look at your expensive car. Or maybe police found drugs in your boat or plane. Maybe that car, boat or plane really belonged to an innocent third party. In any case, the state wants to keep it.

Can they do that? What can you do?

Illinois criminal law allows the state to seize a vehicle, such as a car, boat or airplane, involved in a crime. The state files a civil forfeiture action against the vehicle itself, and thus the property would be listed as the defendant.

Under the Illinois Seizure Law, the state may seize any vehicle used with the owner’s knowledge and consent in the commission of a crime. Such crime may include arson, robbery, predatory sex offenses, murder, kidnapping, drug offenses, gambling, DUI and stalking. The property must have helped facilitate the offense in some way.

Within 14 days of a seizure, the state must request a preliminary hearing for the court to determine if there is probable cause to seize the property. The owner need not be notified at this stage. Once the court determines there is probable cause, the state must file the forfeiture action and notify the owner. The vehicle is held until the court’s final decision.

In a forfeiture, the state must prove that the vehicle was used in the commission of the offense by a preponderance of the evidence. The owner may then show that he or she had no reason to know the vehicle would be used in that way. The state may then disprove the owner’s claims. If the state wins, you lose your property.

If you have a vehicle subject to a forfeiture, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can guide you through the procedure and help present the best possible defense to get your property back.

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.

Source: People ex rel Brendon F. Kelly vs One 2008 Chevy Trailblazer.

(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, October 10, 2016

STUN GUNS FALL WITHIN SECOND AMENDMENT PROTECTIONS

A recent U.S. Supreme Court case overturned a Massachusetts law banning stun guns.

In Caetano v Massachusetts, the defendant obtained a stun gun in order to defend herself against an abusive boyfriend. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the state’s arguments that 1) stun guns were not common when the Second Amendment was enacted, 2) they are thoroughly modern and 3) they are not readily adaptable for military use. The court had previously ruled that the Second Amendment extends to the states and to weapons that had not existed when the Bill of Rights was written. Therefore, the Massachusetts’ ban on stun guns was unconstitutional.

If you are charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can determine your best possible defense. If the police lacked probable cause to search you or your premises, an attorney may be able to petition the court to throw out the evidence against you. Even if the police acted properly and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to obtain 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.

(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, September 19, 2016

CAN POLICE PROVE THE WEAPONS ARE MINE?

Updated October 4, 2017:

You were visiting a friend when a police raided his home. In the raid, police found some ammunition or other weapons. You have a criminal record and are not allowed to possess these items. Can the police charge you with illegal possession? Can they prove the contraband was yours?

Under Illinois law, the state may prove either actual or constructive possession of contraband in order to show it belonged to you rather than someone else.

Actual knowledge may be proven if the illegal weapons are found on your person or in your immediate possession or control.

The State can prove constructive possession through circumstantial evidence. Here, the State must show that you knew about the illegal items and exercised immediate and exclusive control over the area where they were found. Constructive possession can be demonstrated when you once had physical control over the items and you intended to exercise control again, you did not abandon the items, and no other person obtained possession.

In one Illinois case, People v Moore, police were executing a search warrant when they saw defendant jump out a bathroom window. While police found some of defendant’s clothing and one piece of his mail inside the house, a defense witness testified that defendant did not live there. The court held that defendant’s flight did not prove constructive possession of the ammunition. The mail and clothing were also not enough to prove possession, since they were found in another part of the home from the bullets and drugs.

In People v Terrell, the defendant was convicted based on contraband found in a hidden compartment in the hall closet. Although some of defendant's personal items were found inside the home, the state could not prove that defendant knew about the secret compartment or had even entered the home. Therefore, the state could not prove actual or constructive possession, and the defendant's conviction was reversed.

If you are charged with illegal possession of contraband, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. As with most crimes, the state must prove each element of an offense. Can they prove that you had exclusive control over the premises where the contraband was found?

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.

(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 29, 2016

WHO IS A HOUSEHOLD MEMBER UNDER ILLINOIS DOMESTIC BATTERY LAW

In Illinois, the offense of domestic battery requires that you have caused bodily harm or made insulting or provoking contact with any family or household member. But what is a family or household member?

A blood relative or a spouse seems to obviously fit the definition. The law has further applied to significant others or live-in partners. But how much of a relationship is enough before the law applies?

Illinois courts have held that the law applies to persons who have or have had a dating or engagement relationship. This does not include a casual acquaintanceship or ordinary fraternization between two people in a business or social context. The dating relationship must have a romantic focus. A single date or a brief, nonexclusive relationship are also not enough to trigger the law.

And what if your relationship is over? How long must it be over? In Illinois, there does not seem to be a conclusive answer. However, a recent Illinois Appelalte Court decision held that a dating relationship that had ended 15 years previously did not fall within the statute because the romantic intimacy was clearly over. See People v Gray.

If you have been arrested for domestic battery or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal lawyer immediately. As with most crimes, the state must prove the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. If you are not a family or household member, then the stiffer penalties of the domestic battery law might not apply.

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.

(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 8, 2016

EXTRADITION TO ILLINOIS: THE UNFINISHED CRIMINAL CASE

With ever-expanding access to information, police in one state can easily learn about any criminal charges you have open in another state. And that can lead to extradition.

Extradition means you could be arrested in your current state and brought back to face charges in the original state. Whether you will be extradited is up to the county prosecutor, and it is impossible to predict their decision in any given case.

Sometimes extradition is the result of unfinished business. Perhaps in your younger days you got into trouble with the law. You missed your court date, so the judge issued a warrant for your arrest. Or maybe you did go to court but failed to finish the terms of your sentence. For example, you may have been required to pay a fine or perform community service. In either case, the county where your original charges occurred may choose to extradite you once police learn your whereabouts, such as through a routine traffic stop.

If you are at risk of extradition to Illinois, contact an experienced Illinois criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review the facts of your case for your best possible defense. For example, an attorney may help you through the court system to clear the underlying problem in your original case. At times, this can mean negotiating a more favorable plea agreement than you might be able to get 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.

(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, July 18, 2016

ILLINOIS STALKING AND CYBERSTALKING LAWS DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL

A recent Illinois appellate court has declared both Illinois’s stalking and cyberstalking laws unconstitutional because they lack the element of intent.

The Illinois stalking statute made it a crime to knowingly engage in conduct that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their or another’s safety or cause them emotional distress. The cyberstalking statute stated you could be charged if you knowingly and without lawful justification transmited a threat of immediate or future bodily harm, confinement or sexual assault against at person or their family or have caused them to reasonably fear immediate or future harm.

In People v Relerford, the appellate court objected to the “reasonable person” language used in the statutes. While that standard is sufficient to prove negligence in a civil case, it does not meet the higher burden of proof required by due process in a criminal case. Instead of merely knowing or what a reasonable person might feel, you must intend to cause the fear or emotional distress. Because the intent element was missing, the appellate court declared both statutes unconstitutional and overturned the defendant’s convictions.

The Illinois legislature is already attempting to rewrite the law.

If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced criminal law attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. If you were charged under an unconstitutional law, an attorney may be able to petition the court to dimiss your case.

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, May 31, 2016

MORE THAN WORDS REQUIRED: AGGRAVATED ASSAULT TO AN OFFICER IN ILLIOIS

In Illinois, you can be charged with aggravated assault if you knowingly and without authority cause someone that you knew was a police officer performing their official duties to reasonably fear that you were going to cause them bodily harm. To sustain this charge, however, the law generally requires more than words.

To determine whether the officer’s fear is reasonable, the court considers what a reasonable person would normally find frightening. Words alone are generally not enough to prove aggravated assault. There must be some sort of action, such as waiving a tire iron while yelling at an officer or threatening to shoot while holding a gun.

A recent Illinois case held that a defendant’s yelling obscenities and threatening “I’m going to get your ass” while leaving a courthouse was not enough to place an officer in reasonable fear of harm. The court acknowledged that deputies have a difficult job keeping the peace but stated “We cannot find any Illinois cases that would support a conviction because mere words alone without a gesture objectively does not place a person in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery.” (See People v Taylor.)

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case to assist you in presenting your best possible defense.

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.

(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 9, 2016

HOW LONG CAN I BE PROSECUTED FOR A CRIME IN ILLINOIS?

Years ago, you did something illegal. Maybe you sold some drugs or you stole a designer dress. Now you wonder if your past could catch up with you.

How long does the prosecution have to bring charges?

The answer depends on the offense. Naturally, a crime like murder is treated differently from stealing a dress.

Most crimes have a time limit on when charges may be brought referred to as the statute of limitations. In general, in Illinois, the time limit is three years for a felony and 18 months for a misdemeanor unless the criminal code says otherwise. Many identity theft-related crimes have a seven year limit.

The following offenses have no time limit: first or second degree murder, attempt to commit first degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, leaving the scene or failling to give information and render aid in a motor vehicle accident involving death or personal injuries, concealment of homicidal death, treason, arson, forgery or child pornography. There is also no time limit for any offense involving sexual conduct in which the DNA profile of the offender is obtained and entered into a DNA database within 10 years after the commission of the offense where either: (i) the victim reported the offense to law enforcement authorities within 3 years unless a longer period for reporting the offense to law enforcement authorities is provided or (ii) the victim is murdered during the course of the offense or within 2 years after the commission of the offense.

The statute of limitations may be further extended under certain circumstances such as where the victim is a minor or is legally disabled or there is a delay in discovering the offense.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. If your offense is outside the statute of limitations, an attorney may be able to petition the court to dismiss the charges.

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.

Source: 720 ILCS 5/3-5 General limitations statute and 720 ILCS 5/3-6 Extended limitations 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.)

Monday, April 25, 2016

FIGHTING THE POLICE SEARCH OF YOUR COMPUTER

Under the Fourth Amendment, police must generally obtain a warrant before they can search your property. However, there are exceptions such as where you consent to the search.

But let’s say, the police tell you they are looking for one thing on your computer but actually look for something else. For example, in one Illinois case, the defendant consented to a search for viruses relating to compromised credit card information, but the officers instead looked for images and found child pornography. (See People v Prinzing.)

What can you do? Is the search valid?

The answer depends on the scope of your consent. If an officer asks to search your computer and you agree, your consent may be open ended and allow just about anything. But what if the circumstances are not so cut and dried?

Under U.S. Supreme Court case law, the scope of a suspect’s consent is measured by ‘objective reasonableness.’ What would the typical, reasonable person understand by the exchange between the officer and the suspect? The court looks at the expressed object of the search. (See Florida v. Jimeno.)

In the example above, the court said that the defendant had consented to a search for viruses and not images. Thus, the search was illegal and the child pornography evidence was suppressed.

In another case, (U.S. v Price, 12-1630 & 12-1880), a police woman asked to search defendant’s computer but said she was not an expert at computer forensics and another officer would need to conduct the search. The defendant consented, but later said he was only consenting to a search at that moment and not later. The court said the defendant’s understanding of a time limit was not reasonable since the officer had told him she couldn’t do the search herself.

Once you have given consent, you still have a right to limit it or withdraw it.

If you are charged with a computer-related or other offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case to help present the best possible defense. If the search if illegal, an attorney may be able to bring a motion to have the evidence against you suppressed.

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.

(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, April 12, 2016

2016 UPDATE ON COURTHOUSE CELL PHONE RULES

After some confusion resulting from the recent removal of cell phone lockers at the George N. Leighton Criminal Courthouse, it seems like a good time to review the rules.

Cook County first implemented its courthouse cell phone ban in 2013. The ban is currently limited to the George N. Leighton Criminal Courthouse, 2600 N. California, Chicago. The ban was in response to security concerns that cell phones were improperly used to photograph witnesses, jurors and judges who would then be intimidated.

The ban prohibits cell phones, laptop computers, tablet computers, smartphones and all other devices capable of connecting to the internet or making audio or video recordings. Anyone violating this rule can be held in contempt of court, face a fine or jail time and have their device confiscated.

The Criminal Courthouse does provide a limited number of free storage lockers. But these lockers became difficult to oversee and were possibly used to store contraband, so the county removed them in early April. That lasted about one week and the lockers are now back. The county still recommends leaving your devices at home. The courthouse does provide public phones.

There are several exceptions to the ban. These include: jurors, attorneys and their employees, judges, persons with disabilities, news media, government employees, vendors, repair people and law enforcement. You may also bring your device if you are seeking an order of protection, you are participating in domestic violence counseling or if you are required to wear an electronic home monitoring device. If you fall into one of these categories, you must have proper identification and official business at the courthouse. For more information in Cook County, see Cell Phone and Electronic Communication Device Ban.

DuPage County also bans cell phones or communication devices in the courthouse. See Du Page County Security Information. Lake County allows you to bring in electronic devices, but they must be turned off. See Lake County Courthouse Security Brief.

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, April 4, 2016

FRUIT OF THE POISON TREE: STATEMENTS FROM AN ILLEGAL ARREST

Under the Constitution, police have to operate by law before they can deprive you of liberty or property. If your initial stop or arrest is illegal, then the poison fruits of that stop or arrest cannot be used against you subject to certain exceptions.

For example, police must read your Miranda rights when they take you into custody. If they do not, any statements made in custody can be suppressed. However, your statements may be used in court if they are sufficiently removed from the illegal way in which the police obtained them.

To determine if your statements are far enough removed from the “illegal taint,” the court looks at four factors: (1) the flagrancy of police misconduct; (2) whether there were intervening circumstances; (3) the proximity of time between defendant's arrest and statement; and (4) whether Miranda warnings were given to the defendant.

In a recent Illinois case, (People v Gempel), the court suppressed statements that defendant made after an arrest based on these four factors. The court found: 1) police misconduct was flagrant in that officers ignored defendant’s requests for an attorney, saying he did not need one; 2) the results of a DNA test did not create a sufficient intervening circumstance; 3) the 37 hours between the arrest and defendant’s statements may have coerced defendant into confession; 4) while officers repeatedly read defendant his Miranda rights, their continuous disregard of those rights in reality coerced his confession. Therefore, the state failed to “purge the taint of an illegal arrest,” and defendant’s statements could not be used.

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.

(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.)

Friday, March 11, 2016

YOUR MIRANDA RIGHTS APPLY TO MORE THAN WORDS

We all know from TV that police are supposed to read you your rights—also known as Miranda warnings—after they take you into custody but before questioning begins. According to a recent Illinois appellate court decision, the term “questioning” can mean something besides verbally asking questions. It can take the form of police action.

In People v Wright, a police officer handcuffed the defendant, conversed with him about the crime, then took defendant to where he could see police questioning the mother of his children. After seeing the woman get into a police car, presumably arrested for a crime she did not commit, defendant began talking. The court held that the officer’s conduct was an attempt to get the defendant to confess. While Miranda generally applies to questioning, it can also apply to police practices. Therefore, the officer should have read defendant’s Miranda rights and defendant’s incriminating statements should be suppressed.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case to help present your best possible defense. If the police acted illegally, an attorney can bring a motion to try to get the evidence against you dismissed. Even if the police acted property and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in 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.

(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, March 1, 2016

HOW RELIABLE IS EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY?

HOW RELIABLE IS EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY? Illinois Courts were originally cautious about allowing experts to testify about the reliability of eyewitness testimony. But as a recent Illinois Supreme Court case noted “advances in DNA testing have confirmed that ‘eyewitness misidentification is now the single greatest source of wrongful convictions in the United States, and responsible for more wrongful convictions than all other causes combined.’”

In People v Lerma, the defendant was convicted of murder solely on the basis of eyewitness testimony. The trial court rejected defense requests to allow experts to testify about the reliability of that testimony. The trial court believed that since the eyewitnesses already knew defendant, they were less likely to misidentify someone they already knew.

The Illinois Supreme Court rejected the trial court’s reasoning, stating “This is the type of case for which expert eyewitness testimony is both relevant and appropriate.” The state had no physical evidence or confession.

In the past, Illinois courts were concerend about the overuse of expert testimony, However, the Lerma court noted there had been “a dramatic shift in the legal landscape, as expert testimony concerning the reliability of eyewitness testimony has moved from novel and uncertain to settled and widely accepted.” There is now a clear trend to allow eyewitness expert testimony to help the jury understand the characteristics of eyewitness identification.

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.

(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 15, 2016

CAN YOU REFUSE TO GIVE A DNA SAMPLE IN AN ILLINOIS CRIMINAL CASE?

Generally, the answer is yes.

Under Illinois case law, extracting your DNA is a search within the Fourth Amendment. Therefore, police must have either a warrant or probable cause before forcing you to submit it. Otherwise, you may voluntarily refuse to provide a sample. See People v Ealy.

Because your right to refuse to give a sample is constitutionally protected, the state may not use your refusal to show that you had consciousness of guilt at trial.

Once police have arrested you, they may take a cheek swab. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that such a swab is no more intrusive than taking fingerprints or mugshots and can be done as part of a booking procedure. See Marilyn v King.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case to help present the best possible defense. If police acted illegally, an attorney may be able to petition the court to have any illegally collected evidence dismissed. Even if police acted properly and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in 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.

(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.)

Friday, February 5, 2016

THEFT OF STOLEN PROPERTY IN ILLINOIS

In Illinois, you can be charged with theft of stolen property if you obtained control over stolen property knowing it to have been stolen, or under such circumstances as would reasonably induce you to believe that the property was stolen. (See 720 ILCS 5/16-1(a)(4), Illinois Theft Statute.)

As with most crimes, the state must prove you guilty of all the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. A recent Illinois appellate case overturned a defendant’s conviction because the state failed to do just that.

In People v Netisingha, undercover officers sold Target merchandise to the defendant. Although the defendant believed the merchandise was stolen, in fact, it was not. Thus, the state failed to prove the first element of the crime.

This does not mean that if you bought property from an undercover cop, you are in the clear. Another part of the theft statute deals with obtaining control over property that law enforcement represents or implies is stolen. In that case, the state must also prove that you meant to permanently deprive the owner of the property The penalties for theft range with the amount stolen. Theft of less than $500 is a Class A Misdemeanor while over $1 million is a Class X felony.

If you are charged with a crime, you should contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can evaluate the circumstances of your case to present the best possible defense. Even if the police handled your case by the book and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected at the court house may 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.)

Monday, January 18, 2016

CAN I BE CONVICTED ON MORE THAN ONE CHARGE FOR THE SAME OFFENSE? THE "ONE-ACT, ONE-CRIME" DOCTRINE IN ILLINOIS

When you were arrested, the prosecutor may have filed several charges against you. You didn’t know so many crimes could come out of the same set of circumstances. Can you be convicted on all of them?

Under Illinois law, you can only be convicted of one crime for each physical act. For example, if you killed a pedestrian while drunk driving, you may be charged with both reckless homicide and aggravated DUI, but you can only be convicted of one charge or the other. The charges must arise out of precisely the same physical conduct or must arise out of a series of incidental or closely related acts.

In the aggravated DUI/reckless homicide example, both charges are based on the same physical act—driving in such a manner that would cause death. Furthermore, causing the death of another is a necessary element of both charges. Therefore, a defendant should not be convicted of both. See People v Stutzman.

Even where charges are based on multiple acts, you may be charged with a lesser included offense, but you cannot be convicted of both the lesser and greater offenses. For example, if aggravated DUI is a lesser included offense of reckless homicide, you can only be convicted of one or the other.

If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case to determine your best possible defense. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you can on your own. Perhaps if the state has brought too many charges, an attorney can bargain for you to plea to a lesser offense. If you do go to trial, an attorney can petition the court to throw out any convictions that violate the one-act, one-crime doctrine.

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.

(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.)