Friday, July 27, 2018

THE CRIME OF GROOMING IN ILLINOIS

In the internet era, stranger danger is not limited to the streets.

The act of using an electronic transmission device such as the internet to induce the trust of a child under age 17 for sexual purposes is known as “grooming.” Grooming is a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 4 years in prison.

Under Illinois law, a person commits grooming when he or she knowingly attempts to use or uses an on-line, internet or local bulletin board service or any other device with electronic data storage or transmission to solicit, lure or entice a child or their guardian into committing any unlawful sexual conduct.

According to People v Vara, “In the context of sex abuse of a child, grooming is commonly understood as a method of building trust with a child or an adult around the child in an effort to gain access to the child, make the child a cooperative participant in the abuse, and reduce the chance that the abuse is detected or disclosed.”

If you are charged with grooming or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review the options for your best possible defense. As with most other crimes, the state must prove you guilty of all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Can the state prove that you sent the electronic messages? Did the police have probable cause to search you or your computer? Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming and the police acted lawfully, 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.

See: Illinois Grooming 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, July 20, 2018

THE CRIME OF COUNTERFEIT TRADEMARKS IN ILLINOIS

Let’s say you want to sell 100 pairs of blue jeans. Your jeans are from a no-name brand, but if they had a fancy designer label, you know you’d make a lot more money. So you copy a high-end designer’s trademark and print it on your pants. Now you may be in the money, but you’re also in trouble with the law.

The Illinois Counterfeit Trademark Act makes it a Class A Misdemeanor to use, sell or circulate items with a counterfeit trademark or service mark. Even if you haven’t sold the items, you can be charged if you intended to sell and the items are in your possession. The Act also applies to services sold using a counterfeit mark.

Your charges may be upgraded to a felony if you sold more than 100 counterfeit items, had a prior conviction within five years or caused bodily harm as a result of your offense. Besides time in prison, the court may fine you a percentage of the retail value of the counterfeit items.

To convict you, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you (1) knowingly kept or had in your possession (2) with the intent to sell or dispose of (3) any goods or merchandise to which a counterfeit mark was attached, and (4) that you were not the rightful owner of such trademark. A counterfeit mark is one that is likely to cause confusion or mistake or to deceive.

For example, in People v Gueye, the defendant intended to sell handbags with fake Michael Kors, Burberry and Tory Burch trademarks. The State had to show that the marks were affixed to the handbags, and that they were identical to or substantially indistinguishable from the real ones. The court found that the false labels were in fact likely to cause confusion between defendant’s bags and the real thing, and thus upheld defendant’s conviction.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. The Trademark Counterfeit Act has a lot of moving parts. Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? 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, July 10, 2018

ILLINOIS STATE SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN LAW BARRING GUNS WITHIN 1000 FEET OF A PUBLIC PARK OR SCHOOL

Illinois residents cannot be barred from carrying a firearm within 1000 feet of a public park or school, although it is still illegal to carry a gun within a public park.

In People v Chairez, the court held that while the rest of the Illinois Unlawful Use of Weapons law remains constitutional, the section barring weapons within 1000 feet of a park did not pass muster. The court said the ends of protecting the public did not justify the means of banning the guns. Instead, the statue could punish potentially innocent conduct if a defendant unknowingly crossed into a prohibited zone near a park. Most troublesome was the lack of notice as to where the 1000-foot limit began or ended.

Following the above decision, the Appellate Court in People v. Green, struck down sections of the gun law barring possession of a firearm within 1000 feet of a school. In Green, a security guard with a valid FOID card was convicted of unlawful use of a weapon because he was standing with a loaded, accessible firearm across the street from a high school. The court said the state failed to show that limiting guns within 1,000 feet of a school mitigated violence. Again, a lack of notice as to where the 1,000 feet began and ended was problematic.

It is still illegal, however, to carry a gun inside a public park. In People v. Bell, the court said that a public park may be considered a sensitive place, warranting reasonable measures to protect the public especially since large numbers of people, including children, congregate there for recreation.

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 or perhaps the evidence against you was improperly seized. Even if the police acted legally 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.)

Monday, July 2, 2018

STALKING THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA IN ILLINOIS

No matter how tempting it may be to strike out at your ex- through seemingly anonymous social media, you could be charged with stalking. In Illinois, stalking through social media can be prosecuted as “monitoring.”

A recent Illinois case illustrates how manipulating social media such as Facebook can run afoul of the law. In People v Gauger, the defendant used Facebook to harass his ex-wife. The ex-wife discovered that defendant had reactivated her old Facebook account when a friend asked if she had sent a new friend request. The ex-wife also received invitations from a third party who had never sent them. Defendant instead had set up a fictitious account using the third party’s name.

The court convicted defendant finding the evidence “overwhelmingly establishes that the defendant directly or indirectly through third parties monitored and communicated to or about Ms. Carswell through his Internet activities.” Because defendant had violated an existing order of protection, his offense was upgraded to aggravated stalking.

The defendant appealed, arguing that the part of the stalking statute dealing with communicating to or about someone had been struck down. The appellate court, however, reasoned that the anti-stalking statute also prohibited monitoring. Monitoring meant watching, keeping track of or checking another, usually for a special purpose. The court said, “Even without the Facebook messages, the evidence showed that defendant created at least one fictitious Facebook account in the name of Carswell’s friend, downloaded pictures of her and her family, and apparently even obtained mail addressed to her.” Defendant’s course of conduct therefore satisfied the definition of monitoring.

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. To prove stalking, the state must show that you knowingly engaged in a course of conduct that you knew or should have known would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her or a third person’s safety or that you caused the victim to suffer other emotional distress. Can the state prove all these elements beyond a reasonable doubt?

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.)