Saturday, March 24, 2018

WHAT IS A BUILDING UNDER ILLINOIS BURGLARY LAW?

In Illinois, you commit burglary when you knowingly and without authority enter or remain within a building, housetrailer, watercraft, aircraft, motor vehicle railroad car, or any part thereof, with intent to commit a felony or theft. (See Illinois Burglary Statute).

Does a storage trailer fit the above categories? An Illinois Appellate Court says it does. In People v Harris, the defendant entered a 36-foot long enclosed trailer that the owner kept on a leased space in an open parking lot. Defendant argued that the trailer was not a building because it was not a permanent structure. The court rejected this argument stating that the law intended to protect the security of a wide variety of structures. The structure was not required to be permanent. Even a tent could fall under the law’s protection.

If you have been charged with burglary or another crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. As with most offenses, the state must prove you guilty on all elements beyond a reasonable doubt. While you may have entered a building within the meaning of the law, perhaps you did it unknowingly or you had authorization.

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 16, 2018

ILLINOIS AGGRAVATED UNLAWFUL USE OF A WEAPON BASED ON INVALID FOID CARD

If you are anywhere near a gun, possessing a valid Firearms Owner Identification Card can spell the difference between a clean record and big trouble.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down gun control in District of Columbia v. Heller. Since then, many a state’s gun laws have fallen by the wayside. Even so, you must still possess a valid Illinois FOID card. If you are caught near a gun without one, you could face serious charges.

In a recent Illinois decision, police were responding to an alert of “shots fired” when they spotted a speeding car in which defendant was a passenger. Police found a gun in plain sight near the defendant’s feet. Although the gun was not tested for fingerprints and the serial number was not linked to defendant, he was convicted of Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon and sentenced to three years in prison based on his failure to possess a valid FOID card. See People v Irwin.

If you are facing aggravated firearm charges, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. If the police search was illegal, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the resulting evidence even if you didn’t have a valid FOID card. Furthermore, the state still has the burden of proving you guilty of each element of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Does the state have the evidence they need? Even if the police acted lawfully and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected at the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

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

(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 5, 2018

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A FELONY AND A MISDEMEANOR?

The primary difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is the severity of the penalties as well as the impact a conviction may have on your future. The charging document should tell you which one you are facing.

Misdemeanors range from Class C to Class A. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in county jail. Class B and Class C carry much shorter potential jail terms.

Felonies, on the other hand, range in severity from Class 4 to Class X. While a Class 4 felony is punishable by 1 to 3 years in state prison, a Class X can receive 6 to 30 years.

If charged with a felony, you will almost certainly be held overnight for a bond hearing the next day. A judge will then set bond after hearing the state's evidence regarding your criminal history. An experienced criminal defense attorney can instead present reasons why the judge should reduce your bond. With a misdemeanor, the police will frequently allow you to leave the station on your own recognizance.

In terms of your future, a felony conviction may render you automatically ineligible for employment with many business or government employers. Employers are more likely to overlook a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is also more likely to qualify for expungement, which means you may get a clean slate. (Please note that many felonies may now be sealed, in which case your criminal record should only be available to police agencies).

When you are arrested, a police officer issues a ticket or ciminal complaint. While you may initially be charged with a misdemeanor, the state may elect to upgrade your offense to a felony. This will not necessarily happen on the day of your arrest. After reviewing the evidence, the state may determine it has the evidence needed to justify a felony. Or the state may upgrade your offense based on your past criminal history. In some cases, defendants with an extensive cminal history may even face a Class X felony even if the original crime was relatively trivial.

If you have been charged with a crime, it is essential to contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Perhaps the police acted improperly so that an attorney may petition the court to suppress the evidence of your crime. Even if the police acted improperly or the evidence against you is overwhelming, an experienced attorney who is respected at the courthouse may be able to negotiate an agreement to reduce your felony or misdemeanor to a lower offense.

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.)