Thursday, December 28, 2017

COOK COUNTY DRUG SCHOOL FALLS TO BUDGET AXE

Cook County has been in financial trouble for quite some time. Whether the soda tax was really levied to discourage obesity or to raise money, the county was pressured to repeal it, costing the county some much-needed funds. As a result, certain programs—including the Cook County Drug Court Treatment program—were cut.

Drug school was offered as an alternative if you were charged with a drug-related offense. After attending four weekends of classes, the charges against you would be dismissed. But with the program’s closure, this is no longer an option.

Instead, you may still be offered a deferred prosecution for a drug offense. This means if you comply with certain conditions for a set time, the charges may still be dropped. However, obtaining a deferred prosecution is not as clear-cut as being sentenced to drug school. It may be harder to qualify and more difficult to negotiate the terms. In this regard, an experienced criminal law attorney can help.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Perhaps the police lacked probable cause to stop you Even if the police acted properly and 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, December 22, 2017

DID I CONSENT TO A SEARCH? THE VOLUNTARY CONSENT EXCEPTION TO THE WARRANT REQUIREMENT IN ILLINOIS

When the police knocked at your door, your roommate opened the door. The police walked in, spotted some contraband and now you are under arrest. Did your roommate consent to the search?

The Fourth Amendment requires that police obtain a warrant before searching your home unless an exception to the warrant requirement exists. One exception involves the need to give emergency aid, for example, if someone inside the home is injured. The police may enter if they have a reasonable basis to connect the emergency with your home.

The police may also search if they obtain voluntary consent. The consent must be given without any coercion, expressed or implied, and must not be the result of any intimidation or deception. The court may determine whether you gave consent on the totality of the circumstances and on a case by case basis. If you open the door and say, “Check it out,” the police likely have consent for the search. If you instead slam the door shut and the officer kicks it open, then no consent was voluntarily given.

In People v Swanson. police arrived at a DUI defendant’s home when investigating a report about a disoriented person. Defendant’s wife opened the interior door but only briefly opened the storm door in order to better communicate with police. The officer then pushed open the door and entered. The wife repeatedly told officers that she and her husband did not need help. The court held that this was not voluntary consent, and thus the evidence from the search could not be used.

If you are arrested for a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney will review your case for its best possible defense. If the police acted illegally, an attorney may petition the court to throw out the evidence obtained from the illegal behavior. Even if the police acted lawfully 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.)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

WHAT IS AGGRAVATED IDENTITY THEFT IN ILLINOIS?

In Illinois, you can be charged with identity theft if you knowingly use another’s personal identifying information to fraudulently obtain credit, money, goods, services or other property. If that person is over the age of 60, your charge can be upgraded to aggravated identity theft. (See Illinois Identity Theft statute.) Aggravated identity theft also includes using another’s identity to further an organized gang’s activities.

Identity theft is also classified according to the amount of money involved. The classes range from a Class 4 felony for less than $300 to a Class X felony where more than $100,000 is involved.

As with most crimes, the state must prove all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. A recent Illinois case looked at the definition of “another person.” In People v Bensen, the defendant served as a secretary for an 80-year old man, who had given her a credit card for company expenses. Defendant then charged thousands of dollars for personal expenses which the employer unwittingly paid. Defendant was convicted of aggravated identity theft. On appeal, she argued that she did not use the personal identifying information of “another person” since the company card was in her name. The court agreed. Because defendant did not represent herself as someone else, her conviction was reversed.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Does the state have the evidence they need to prove your offense? 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.)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

CAN THE POLICE LIE TO GET YOUR CONSENT TO A SEARCH?

Under the Fourth Amendment, police may only search your home if they have a warrant. However, there are exceptions to this requirement. One exception is that you consented to the search. But what if your consent was based on an officer’s lie?

The Illinois Appellate Court held that the end does not justify the means where an officer told a defendant that he would go to jail unless he agreed to a search. Consent to a search must be voluntary. To determine if your consent was voluntary, the court looks at all the circumstances. Important factors can include if you initially refused the consent and if the officer lied.

In People v Wall, the officer induced the defendant to return home from work by saying he was investigating a possible break-in. Once home, the defendant asked if the officer had a search warrant, which the court interpreted as refusing consent. The officer then told defendant he would go to jail if he did not consent to the search, but if he consented, he would not go to jail. All statements were false. Therefore, the court suppressed the results of the search.

If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. If the police acted illegally, an attorney may petition the court to throw out the results of any improper police conduct.

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 27, 2017

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MURDER AND MANSLAUGHTER IN ILLINOIS?

The answer is in your state of mind. Murder may be committed intentionally or knowingly, whereas manslaughter involves unintentional, if reckless, behavior.

In Illinois, first degree murder means you intended to kill or do great bodily harm to someone, or you knew that your actions would cause or were highly likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another. 720 ILCS 5/9-1. First degree murder also includes a killing that occurs while commiting a forcible felony other than second degree murder. First degree murder has its own set of sentencing rules including the potential for the death penalty.

Second degree murder is like first degree murder with mitigation. Either you were acting under a sudden and intense passion because you were seriously provoked by the person you intended to kill, or you unreasonably believed you were defending yourself or another. 720 ILCS 5/9-2. Second degree murder is a Class 1 felony, punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison.

Involuntary manslaughter involves unintentional killing where your actons, even if lawful, were reckless and likely to cause death. 720 ILCS 5/9-3. If your actions involved a vehicle such as a car, snowmobile or boat, you may then be charged with reckless homicide. Both offenses are a Class 3 felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison.

In certain circumstances, reckless homicide can be upgraded to a Class 2 felony, such as if you went speeding through a school zone and killed two or more people.

If you have been charged with murder or manslaughter, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. In many cases, the state charges a higher offense than is warranted by the evidence. In a best case scenario, an attorney can present your case in hopes of winning your acquittal. But even if the evidence is overwhelmingly against you, an experienced attorney may help obtain a verdict or negotiate a plea agreement for a lesser offense.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its possible defense. If police did not have a valid reason to stop you, an attorney may be able to ask the court to suppress the evidence from your arrest. Even if the police acted properly and 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 13, 2017

CAN ILLINOIS POLICE STOP ME JUST BECAUSE I HAVE A GUN?

The answer is probably not.

On September 12, 2013, the Illinois Supreme Cort in People v. Aguilar partially struck down the law that barred possession of a handgun for self-defense outside the home. Thus, the mere fact you have a gun in your possession, without more, is not enough cause for police to stop you.

In a recent appellate case, People v Thomas, police received a tip that the defendant had a gun. The tip did not inform police whether defendant was involved in other criminal activity or whether defendant lacked a valid Firearms Owners Identification card. The gun ban was in effect at the time of defendant’s arrest. However, the law had since been declared unconsitutional and could no longer serve as a basis for the defendant’s arrest. Therefore, defendant’s stop by police was unconstitutional.

Likewise in People v Horton, officers thought they saw a metallic object that could have been a gun. The court held that this fact alone did not serve as probable cause for an arrest.

If you have a prior conviction based on a law that has since been declared unconstitutional, you will need to petition the court to vacate your prior conviction. Otherwise, your prior conviction can be used against you in a later offense. For more information, see our related post: If a Gun Law is Unconstitutional, Can My Conviction Under That Law Be Set Aside.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its possible defense. If police did not have a valid reason to stop you, an attorney may be able to ask the court to suppress the evidence from your arrest. Even if the police acted properly and 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.)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

HELP FOR THE DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED OR MENTALLY-ILL DEFENDANT

Most criminal offenses require the state to prove that the defendant knowingly or intended to commit the crime. But what if the crime is committed by someone who is mentally ill or developmentally disabled?

For example, in the recent Illinois case People v Mayo, the defendant was charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse. The defendant, however, had suffered a brain injury in infancy and presently had the mental capacity of a 3-year-old and an IQ of 48. Therefore, could the defendant truly form the required intent to commit the crime?

In such cases, Illinois law provides certain procedures. First, the court must determine whether the defendant is mentally fit to stand trial. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the court will determine that the defendant is fit, and the case moves to trial. If the defendant is not fit, the court holds a discharge hearing.

A discharge hearing determines whether a defendant should be acquitted, but not whether a defendant is guilty. If the defendant cannot be acquitted because there is enough evidence of guilt, the court may find the defendant “not not guilty.” The defendant is then subject to one to five years of treatment, depending on the offense. If the defendant is still unfit after the treatment ends, the court may involuntarily commit the defendant for further treatment. The commitment, however, cannot exceed the maximum sentence prescribed under the original criminal charge.

If a defendant is fit to stand trial, the defendant may seek a verdict of “not guilty by reason of insanity.” Under these circumstances, a defendant must show that as a result of mental disease or defect, he or she lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his or her conduct. The court must first enter a verdict of guilty, then find the defendant not guilty by reason of insanity. (See our related post The Insanity Defense in Illinois.

If you have a friend or relative charged with a crime who suffers from a mental disability or illness, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can help present evidence of your loved one’s difficulties in their most favorable light. Often, a mental capacity defense will require expert testimony. An attorney can help select and prepare these experts.

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, September 22, 2017

CAN YOU VACATE YOUR CONVICTION UNDER THE ILLINOIS STATUTE BARRING SEX OFFENDERS FROM PUBLIC PARKS?

In a recent decision, an Illinois Appellate court struck down a law that barred convicted sex offenders from public parks. When a statute is declared unconstitutional, it is unconstitutional from the beginning. Therefore, if you have been convicted under such a statute, you may be able to ask the court to vacate your conviction.

Vacating your conviction becomes particularly important if you have an immigration status and could be deported or lose your green card. Even if you are a citizen, a prior conviction can be used to upgrade a charge or sentence for a later offense unless you vacate the conviction before that time.

In People v Pepitone, the defendant, who had been previously convicted of a child sex offense, was arrested for walking his dog in a public park. The prior law made it a crime “for a sexual predator or a child sex offender to knowingly be present in any public park building or on real property comprising any public park.” A public park is defined as “a park, forest preserve, bikeway, trail, or conservation area under the jurisdiction of the State or a unit of local government.”

While the legislature has an interest in protecting children, the court held the statute was too broad and criminalized “substantial amounts of innocent conduct.” The statute was “an outright ban on all individuals with certain sex offense convictions from public park buildings and public park property without any requirement that anyone—particularly a child—be actually, or even probably, present.” Furthermore, the statute criminalized innocent conduct such as attending a concert, a Chicago Bears’ game at Soldier Field, or even a trip to the Museum of Science and Industry.

If you have been convicted under a statute that has later been held unconstitutional, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney may petition the court to vacate your conviction. If you do not, your conviction can be used against you for sentencing purposes should you later be charged with a crime.

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, September 12, 2017

THE ILLINOIS LAW ON SELF DEFENSE

You got into a fight at a bar or a party or even in your own home. While you are now charged with a crime, you weren’t the one who started making trouble. Can you claim self defense?

The answer depends on a number of factors. Who started the fight? Were you afraid the other person was about to hurt you? Was your fear reasonable?

In Illinois, the elements of self-defense include that (1) unlawful force was threatened against a person, (2) the person threatened was not the aggressor, (3) the danger of harm was imminent, (4) the use of force was necessary, (5) the person threatened actually and subjectively believed a danger existed that required the use of force, and (6) the beliefs of the person threatened were objectively reasonable.

Whether these elements equal self defense depends on the specific facts of your situation and the whether the judge or jury believes you.

In People v Williams, the court held that the defendant’s fear of imminent bodily harm was unreasonable when the victim was unarmed and injured.

On the other hand in In re Vuk, a defendant’s self defense claim was upheld where the court did not believe any of the witnesses. Once self defense has been raised, the state has the burden of disproving the self defense claim beyond a reasonable doubt. Because the trial court believed all the state’s witnesses were lying, the state could not sustain its burden of proof.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Self defense is just one of several defenses that can be raised to fight a criminal charge.

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.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

RECKLESS DISCHARGE OF A FIREARM IN ILLINOIS

To be convicted of reckless discharge of a firearm, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you 1) recklessly discharged a firearm 2) endangering the bodily safety of an individual. If either of those elements is missing, the state cannot prove its case.

In a recent Illinois appellate case, the court held that that an endangered individual must be someone other than yourself. In People v Grant, the defendant was charged with recklessly discharging a firearm by accidentally shooting himself in an empty room. The court rejected the state’s argument that the defendant was an individual and thus he could be charged because he endangered himself.

Reckless discharge of a firearm is a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison. If the shooting is from a car, the driver of the car may also be charged for the shooter’s actions.

If you are charged with an Illinois offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case to determine your best defense. Can the state prove all the elements of the offense? Did the police act lawfully when they made your arrest? Was any search for a weapon legal? If not, an attorney can petition the court to suppress any evidence that was illegally taken.

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 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 also: Reckless Discharge of a Firearm 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.)

Friday, August 4, 2017

DID YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO BE THERE? BURGLARY IN ILLINOIS

Suppose you were visiting a public building. You had business in the building and had every right to be there. But while there, you entered an office marked “private,” and stole some cash off a desk. Does that make you a burglar?

In Illinois, the answer is yes. You commit burglary when you enter a building or any part of that building without authority and with the intent to commit a felony or theft. According to Illinois case law, you still entered the office without authority even though you had a right to enter the building itself. The private area need not have a door so long as the space is off limits.

The fact you didn’t know part of the building was off limits may not matter. Illinois courts have held that when a person enters part of a building “with the intent to commit a theft or felony, that person enters that part without authority, regardless of whether that part of the building is normally held open to the public and regardless of whether that person entered the building as a whole with authority.” (See People v Gharrett).

If you have been charged with burglary or another crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. As with most criminal offenses, the state must prove you guilty of each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Can the state prove that you lacked authority to be in a building or that you intended to commit a crime? 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.)

Friday, July 14, 2017

DO I NEED AN ILLINOIS FIREARM ID IF I AM LICENSED OUT OF STATE?

The answer depends on what you mean by “licensed.”

Illinois law requires gun owners to possess a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card issued by the state. There is an exception, however, for non-Illinois residents. In that case, you do not need an Illinois FOID if you are licensed to carry a firearm in your home state. An Illinois appellate court has interpreted this to mean that you must actually have a valid license from a regulatory body in your home state. The mere fact that your state allows citizens to possess firearms is not enough.

In People v Wiggins, the defendant was charged with Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon. A Texas resident, he did not have a valid Illinois FOID. Defendant argued that since his home state of Texas does not require a license to own firearms, he was thus licensed in Texas for purposes of Illinois law. The court disagreed. The court reasoned that the non-resident exception only applies to non-residents who have complied with an official state process for licensing in their home state.

Illinois law does make an exception for non-resident hunters when their home state does not require licensing.

If you have been charged with a firearms or similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Perhaps you are covered by one of the FOID law’s exceptions. Perhaps the police lacked probable cause to stop you or make an arrest. If so, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the results of any illegal search or arrest.

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, July 4, 2017

POLICE MUST VIDEOTAPE MURDER INTERROGATIONS IN ILLINOIS

Illinois law requires that police videotape anytime they question you about murder charges provided that you are in custody. If police fail to record the entire interrogation, a judge may throw out any statements you made even after the tape began rolling

Under 725 ILCS 5/103-2.1, your oral, written, or sign language statements made as a result of a custodial interrogation conducted at a police station or other place of detention are presumed inadmissible as evidence unless: (1) an electronic recording is made of the custodial interrogation, and (2) the recording is substantially accurate and not intentionally altered. The statute defines custodial interrogation to mean “any interrogation during which (i) a reasonable person in the subject’s position would consider himself or herself to be in custody and (ii) during which a question is asked that is reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response.”

In a recent Illinois decision, People v Little, the Appellate Court suppressed a murder suspect’s statements where the police failed to record the first part of his interrogation. When the interrogation began, Defendant was in custody as he had been taken to the police station in handcuffs and was not free to leave. Although the defendant may not have been a murder suspect when the interview began, the state later sought to use his statements against him in a murder proceeding. Therefore, the court held that police were required to video the start of his questioning. Because the first part of the interview was not taped, defendant’s later statements which were on video were inadmissible.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately to review your best options. If police acted improperly in conducting a search, making an arrest or questioning you, the attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the results of illegal police conduct. In some limited cases, this could result in the charges against you being dismissed.

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, June 2, 2017

THE FELONY IN FELONY MURDER

In Illinois, you can be charged with felony murder if a death results while you are committing a forcible felony other than second degree murder. For example, if you are robbing a store and your accomplice shoots the store owner, you can be charged with felony murder even though you were nowhere near the gun. Felony murder is a form of first degree murder.

A recent Illinois court decision examined the felony in felony murder. Can you be charged with felony murder if the underlying felony is an element of the murder? The Court said no. In other words, if you walked up to the store clerk and fired a gun, you could not be charged with both types of murder.

In People v O'Neal, the defendant fired at a van that he believed contained rival gang members. Instead, he killed his friend who was sitting in a car across the street. The defendant was charged with felony murder based on his aggravated use of a weapon. Because discharging the gun was inherent in killing his friend, it could not serve as the basis for felony murder.

Felony murder does not require the state to prove that you intended to kill. The state need only prove that a death occurred during a felony. Without the element of intent, however, a defendant cannot raise state of mind as a defense. In the above case, the defendant believed he was shooting in self-defense. This belief could have reduced the offense from first to second degree murder. By charging the defendant with felony murder based on firing a gun, the court reasoned that the state would be entitled to a first degree murder conviction it could not otherwise get.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Did the police act properly in searching your premises, arresting you or taking your confession? Does the state have the evidence it needs to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt? The answers to those questions can help determine the strategy for your case.

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 5/9-1(a)(3) First Degree Murder 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, May 15, 2017

I WAS CAUGHT SWITCHING SAMPLES IN MY DRUG TEST. WHAT CAN HAPPEN?

You were convicted for possession of a controlled substance. The court gave you supervision, or if you had a felony, you may have received probation. As a result, you must submit to random drug testing. You knew you couldn’t pass, so you switched your urine sample with a friend’s.

Somehow, the probation officer figured it out. Now, you are facing a violation on your original case as well as a new felony. The violation alone means you can be resentenced on the original case, and in certain circumstances, you may be charged with a Class 2 felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison.

What can you do?

First, it is imperative that you hire an experienced attorney who is respected at the court house and familiar with the court officials involved. It is usually difficult to defend these cases on the facts alone, which are usually pretty clear. A good working relationship between your attorney and the court can be essential in negotiating a more favorable plea agreement. Furthermore, an attorney can help you present evidence of your otherwise good character.

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.)

Thursday, May 4, 2017

CAN I BE DEPORTED FOR A DRUG OFFENSE?

The answer is probably yes, unless your crime involved a small amount of marijuana for your own personal use.

Under the The Immigration and Nationality Act, you may be deported if at any time after admission, you have been convicted of violating, conspiring or attempting to violate any law or regulation of a State, the United States, or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance as defined under federal law, other than a single offense involving possession for your own use of 30 grams or less of marijuana. Furthermore, the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services may deport drug abusers or addicts.

If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your options to determine your best possible defense. Because immigration laws are rapidly changing, you should also work with an immigration attorney to help insure that any action you take does not have unintended consequences. If you have a prior conviction in Chicago, you may be able to expunge or seal your case more quickly than you could in a suburban court district. However, the state may object.

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, April 17, 2017

IF A GUN LAW IS UNCONSTIUTIONAL, CAN MY CONVICTION UNDER THAT LAW BE SET ASIDE?

A few years ago, you were convicted under an Illinois gun law that banned carrying a firearm outside the home. In 2013, the law was set aside. Is there anything you can do about your prior offense?

If you have been convicted under an Illinois gun or other law that was later declared unconstitutional, you may be able to ask the court to set your conviction aside. This is particularly important if your immigration status is at risk. Even if you are a citizen, your prior conviction may still be used to upgrade a future offense unless you act first.

In 2013, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down parts of the Illinois Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon statute, stating that it was a flat ban on ready to use guns outside the home. (See People v Aguilar.) The affected parts said that a person commits aggravated unlawful use of a weapon when he or she knowingly carries an uncased, loaded and immediately accessible firearm on his or her person or in any vehicle except when on his or her land, home or place of business. Such an offense was a Class 4 felony.

Once a law is declared unconstitutional, it is considered unconstitutional from the beginning. But that doesn’t mean that your conviction disappears automatically. You must take action to clear your record. If you don’t, Illinois courts have held that the prior offense can be used to upgrade sentencing on a future offense.

In People v Smith, the defendant was convicted of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon based on his prior felony conviction under a gun statute that was later declared unconstitutional. The court held that because the defendant did not clear his felony status, his prior conviction could still be used as an element of the current offense.

If you were convicted under this or another unconstitutional statute, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can help you work through the court system to have your conviction vacated.

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.)

Thursday, April 6, 2017

MODERN TECHNOLOGY AND THE FOURTH AMENDMENT

The Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable police searches. The founding fathers, however, never imagined the modern computer era. Under current federal law, the police can obtain all kinds of information that you may have shared with third parties via your computer.

In People v Caira, the defendant had argued that his I.P. address should be private because it could reveal information about his physical location. The court, however, held that a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information that he or she “turns over to third parties even if the information is revealed on the assumption that it will be used only for a limited purpose and the confidence in the third party will not be betrayed.” The court held that police did not need a warrant because his I.P. address was shared with Microsoft whenever defendant checked his Hotmail inbox.

In prior decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court has stated that while the contents of your phone conversation might be private, the numbers that you dialed are not. Further, banking records were not private because they were shared with the bank.

If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case to help determine your best possible defense. Maybe the search went beyond the information you shared with third parties. If so, an attorney can petition the court to have the results of any illegal search thrown out.

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, March 27, 2017

EXTRADITION TO ILLINOIS: VIOLATION OF PROBATION

If you violate the terms of your out of state probation, you can be extradited to the state where you originally had the problem.

Extradition means you could be arrested in your current state and brought back to face charges in the original state. The county prosecutor in the original state often decides whether to extradite, and it is impossible to predict their decision in any given case.

If you are at risk of extradition to Illinois, you should 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 clear a problem underlying your original case. Sometimes a violation of probation is the result of miscommunication between court agencies, and an attorney may help sort this out.

Even if you violated probation and there was no mistake, an attorney can still help. For instance, an attorney, who is respected in the courthouse, may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you might 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.).

Thursday, March 16, 2017

POSSESSION OF BURGLARY TOOLS IN ILLINOIS

You need not commit a burglary to be charged with a crime. The mere possession of burglary tools may be enough.

Under Illinios law, you may be convicted of a Class 4 felony, punishable by one to three years in prison, if you possess any key, tool, instrument, device or explosive suitable for breaking into a building or motor vehicle or any place intended for safekeeping property. You must have entered the building or vehicle intending to commit the felony or theft. Your intent to commit such a crime may be inferred if you have a key designed for picking locks.

If you are charged in Illinois with possession of burglary tools or similar offense, contact a criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. As with most crimes, the state must prove you guilty of each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Can the state show you possess the necessary intent? If the police lacked probable cause to search you, an attorney may petition the court to suppress the evidence resulting from the search.

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 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.

Source: Possession of Burglary Tools.

(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, March 6, 2017

CAN MY PAST SEXUAL OFFENSES BE USED TO PROVE A CURRENT CRIME IN ILLINOIS?

Past crimes generally cannot be used to prove a current offense except under certain circumstances. One major exception, however, is that Illinois law specifically allows the use of prior sex offenses to show a tendency to commit that type of crime.

With most crimes, your past offenses cannot be used to show bad character and thus a likelihood to commit crime. However, they can be used to show intent, modus operandi, identity, motive, absence of mistake and any material fact other than propensity that is relevant to the case. For example, a past crime can show you had a motive to murder a key witness, or that you knew how to hot wire cars because you’d done it before.

In Illinois, however, your past sexual misconduct can be used in crimes involving predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, criminal sexual abuse, child pornography, aggravated child pornography, criminal transmission of HIV or child abduction. (See 725 ILCS 115-7.3).

Even then the court must consider if the past crimes evidence is more likely to prejudice the jury than would be helpful as proof. To make that determination, the court considers: (1) closeness in time between the past sexual offense and the current crime, (2) the degree of factual similarity or (3) other relevant facts and circumstances.

In one recent Illinois case, People v Arze, the appellate court upheld the use of prior crimes against a family doctor who had sexually abused his patients. His past offenses took place around the same time. The crimes were factually similar because the defendant touched the victims on their private parts in the exam room while they were partially undressed. Because only two past crimes were admitted, the jury would not be overwhelmed or prejudiced by the number of past crimes.

If you have been charged with a sex offense or other crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not discuss your crime with the police or third parties. Any attempt to explain yourself might give the prosecution the evidence they need to convict 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, February 24, 2017

CAN I BE DEPORTED FOR A CRIMINAL OFFENSE?

The answer may depend on the type of offense, how long you have been in the country and whether your crime is considered one of moral turpitude.

Under current immigration law, you can be deported if you are convicted for cetain listed offenses or for a crime involving moral turpitude for which a sentence of more than one year could have been imposed. If you are here on a visa, you must have committed the crime within five years of entry. If you are a permanent resident, the crime must fall within ten years of entry. See Immigration and Nationality Act.

While the following list is not exhaustive, you may be deported for aggravated felony, high speed flight from an immigration checkpoint, failing to register as a sex offender, drug offenses, domestic violence, certain firearms offenses, terrorist activities and human trafficking or two or more crimes involving moral turpitude.

To determine whether your crime involves moral turpitude, the court may examine the elements of your state law offense. However, the court may instead look at the underlying facts of your case. For that reason, you must be careful before taking a plea agreement to insure that you are not inadvertently pleading to a crime of moral turpitude.

Furthermore, a sentence of supervision may be considered a conviction for purposes of deportation. Thus, it is important to consult an immigration attorney before you enter a guilty plea.

Bear in mind that this is a highly volatile area of the law which is subject to change. Therefore, it is essential to speak with a qualified attorney if you have any questions regarding your immigration status.

If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your options to determine your best possible defense. For most criminal offenses, the state must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. An attorney can look for weaknesses in the state’s case. If the police stopped or searched you illegally, an attorney may bring a motion to have the evidence against you suppressed. Even if the police acted lawfully and the evidence againt 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 17, 2017

CAN PAST ACTS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE BE USED AS EVIDENCE IN ILLINOIS?

The state cannot generally use your past bad acts to prove that you have bad character and thus are more likely to commit a crime. Illinois law, however, specifically allows evidence of past domestic violence to be used under certain conditions.

Under Illinois law, evidence of past domestic violence can be used for any relevant purpose to prove charges of domestic violence or first or second degree murder involving domestic violence. (See Evidence in Domestic Violence Cases).

Even so, the court must weigh whether past crimes evidence will bias the jury against you more than it helps prove the case. To make that determination, the court considers: (1) the closeness in time between the past acts and the present crime; (2) the degree of factual similarity between the offenses; or (3) other relevant facts and circumstances.

In People v Jenk, the Illinois Appellate court upheld the use of three prior domestic violence incidents against the defendant, because they were 1) supported by corroborative evidence; 2) relevant to showing defendant’s motive, intent or absence of mistake; 3) were close in time and 4) had a high degree of factual similarity to the current crime. The trial court excluded three other incidents that were uncorroborated and thus might have prejudiced the jury beyond their evidentiary value.

If you have been charged with domestic violence or another crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not discuss your crime with the police or third parties. Any attempt to explain yourself might give the prosecution the evidence they need to convict 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.)

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A LITTLE ROAD RAGE CAN LEAD TO BIG TROUBLE IN ILLINOIS

We’ve all been cut off or frustrated by other drivers. But no matter how hostile the other driver may be, it’s best to stay in your car, keep cool and if necessary, call the police.

A recent Illinois case illustrates the criminal charges that can result when two parties allow road rage to overwhelm their better judgment. In People v Yeoman, defendant was in a car behind the victim at a red light. Defendant honked his horn to let the other driver know the light had changed. The victim, a senior citizen named Frank Egas, then repeatedly gave defendant the finger, refused to let him pass and cut him off. Defendant’s wife and children were also in the car. Defendant and his wife left their car to confront Egas. After returning to their car, Egas got out and began to yell at them. Defendant punched Egas in the face. He then fell backward and later died.

The defendant was charged with two counts of second degree murder, aggravated battery on a public way, aggravated battery of a senior citizen and aggravated battery causing great bodily harm. On appeal, defendant argued the evidence was insufficient to convict him of second degree murder since he could not know that hitting Egas with his bare fist would cause a strong probability of death. The court agreed but upheld his conviction for aggravated battery to a senior citizen, a Class 2 felony punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison. The court denied defendant’s claim of self defense in that Egas had done no more than yell at him.

If you have been charged with road rage or another crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. As with most criminal chages, the state must prove the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt. An attorney can look for weaknesses in the state’s evidence. If the victim acted aggressively beyond simply yelling, you might be able to claim self 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.)

Friday, January 20, 2017

NEW ILLINOIS RULES FOR GUILTY PLEAS

As of January 1, 2017, changes to Illinois law require the court to give new warnings about the consequences of a guilty plea.

Before you plead guilty, a judge must first warn or “admonish” you about what your plea really means. The judge will ask if you understand the rights you are giving up, such as your right to a jury or to present evidence in your defense.

Under the new rules, the judge must clearly explain: 1) the maximum and minimum penalties for your crime; 2) that you are more likely to receive a higher sentence or consecutive sentences for any future conviction; 3) that your conviction may restrict where you can live, work or be present; and 4) that it may be more difficult to find a job or place to live, or to keep or obtain a license for a gun, car or occupation. The court can only accept your plea once you indicate that you understand these warnings and wish to move forward.

A guilty plea should be your last resort. Your attorney should review your case to determine if there is a better option. But if the evidence is overwhelming and the police acted lawfully, a guilty plea might be your only real choice. In that case, an attorney who is respected in the court house may help 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.

Source: Illinois Plea 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.)