Monday, September 24, 2018

DID YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WERE DOING? THE DEFINITION OF INTENTIONAL CONDUCT IN ILLINOIS

If you are charged with a crime, the state must prove all the elements of that crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Most offenses require that you had the mental intent to commit the crime. In other words, you must have acted knowingly.

A recent Illinois case demonstrates how this works. In People v Jackson, the defendant was accused of battery and resisting a peace officer. Both offenses require the state to prove that the defendant acted knowingly. Battery occurs when you knowingly makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with another and without legal justification. (720 ILCS 5/12-3(a)(2).) Resisting a peace officer occurs when you knowingly resist the performance by someone that you know is a peace officer. (720 ILCS 5/31-1(a).)

Illinois law defines “knowingly” to mean that you are consciously aware that your conduct is practically certain to cause a particular result. (720 ILCS 5/4-5(b).) Knowing may be proven by circumstantial evidence and inferred from your actions and the conduct surrounding them.

The defendant in the above case claimed he was having an epileptic seizure. The state’s witnesses testified that the defendant was not behaving normally in that the defendant continued to call 911 even though paramedics and an ambulance were already on the scene.

The defendant did not present evidence as to his mental state at trial. But, the court noted that he did not need to do so. The state had the burden of proof and failed to show the defendant acted knowingly.

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. Can the state prove all the elements of the 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.)

Friday, September 14, 2018

CHAIN OF CUSTODY IN ILLINOIS

After a search of your home or car, the police find a bag of something illegal. How can you be sure that the bag from your arrest is the same bag produced at trial?

If you watch police shows, you have probably heard the expression “chain of custody.” In order to use evidence against you, the state must demonstrate the chain of custody between the police search and your trial.

For items with unique characteristics that are not easily changed, tampered with or contaminated, the State may simply present testimony that the item is in substantially the same condition as it was when taken. But for items such as narcotics or blood, the state must show that any tampering or accidental substitution was unlikely. Once the state does this, you may challenge the state by showing actual evidence of tampering, alteration, or substitution.

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. If the evidence in your case was mishandled, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress it. 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.

Source: People v Trice.

(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.)

Sunday, September 9, 2018

WHAT IS DISTURBING THE PEACE UNDER ILLINOIS DISORDERLY CONDUCT LAW?

You were standing on the street yelling obscenities when the police arrived. Is this disorderly conduct under Illinois law? Maybe yes, maybe no. The answer depends on all the facts.

To be convicted of disturbing the peace under the Illinois Disorderly Conduct statute, the State must prove that you knowingly acted in such an unreasonable manner as to alarm or disturb another and to provoke a breach of the peace.

To determine exactly what that all means, a court reviews all the surrounding facts and circumstances of your case. The disorderly conduct law’s main purpose is to guard against molesting or harassing another, either mentally or physically, without justification. Therefore, your conduct must generally threaten another or have an effect on others. There need not be overt threats or abusive language, and your conduct need not be made in public.

In People v Steger, the defendant merely stood for a few minutes outside of his ex-girlfriend’s house. The court found this was enough to convict defendant. The parties had a history of tension involving custody of their minor child. For that reason, custody exchanges took place at a neutral site. Under these circumstances, defendant’s standing across from the victim’s house provoked a breach of the peace.

However, the court did not find disorderly conduct in People v. Bradshaw, where the defendant stood outside a tavern yelling obscenities. Since no one had left the tavern, the court reasoned that defendant did not provoke a breach of the peace.

If you have been accused of disorderly conduct, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Because the definition of disturbing the peace can be so fact specific, it is imperative that you do not try to talk your way out of your situation. You will likely only dig yourself in deeper. An attorney can review the facts to present your defense in its best possible light.

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.)