Friday, November 1, 2019

CAN POLICE USE A DOG TO SEARCH OUTSIDE MY MOTEL ROOM WITHOUT A WARRANT?

You are staying at a motel. You heard some people with a dog outside your room, but you thought nothing of it. A little while later, the police were at your door with a warrant. The dog you heard earlier was part of the canine unit, and now police want to search your room.

Can they do that? What can you do?

The Fourth Amendment of the constitution guarantees you the right to be free of unreasonable searches or seizures. The police need probable cause or a warrant to perform a search although there are some exceptions. When you are in a hotel or motel, you have the same expectation of privacy in your room as you would have in your own home. Therefore, the police must obtain a warrant in order to search. While you have less expectation of privacy in the hallway outside your hotel room than you would outside your apartment or home, police may still need to obtain a warrant.

For example, in People v. Lindsey, police used a dog to sniff the door handle and seams of defendant’s motel room. The dog alerted police to the presence of heroin, and the police returned with a warrant. The court found the dog sniff violated the Fourth Amendment and overturned defendant’s conviction.

If you are the subject of an unlawful search, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the evidence found in the search. The results of an illegal search are known as “fruit of the poisoned tree.” If police have no other basis for your arrest, your case could be dismissed.

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. Do the police have probable cause to arrest you? Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? 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 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 25, 2019

THE CRIME OF IDENTITY THEFT IN ILLINOIS

Illinois law prohibits several types of identity theft. Perhaps the most basic definition is where you knowingly used the personal identifying information or documents of another person to fraudulently obtain credit, money, goods, services or other property or to commit a felony. (See 720 ILCS 5/16-30).

A key element to the offense is the word “knowingly.” To convict you, the state must prove that you actually knew the information or documents you used belonged to another person.

For example, in People v. Fort, the defendant used a credit profile number (CPN) that he had purchased from a website. CPNs can be used to establish alternative credit. This CPN, however, was the social security number of an actual person. As a result, defendant was convicted of identity theft. The court, however, reversed defendant’s conviction because the state had failed to prove that defendant actually knew the CPN belonged to someone else.

Other identity theft offenses under Illinois law include: 1) possessing, selling, buying or manufacturing personal identification while knowing the documents were stolen or with intent to commit a felony; 2) possessing or dealing in document-making implements knowing they will be used to commit a felony; 3) using documents to falsely impersonate another or gain access to their information without their permission; or 4) using a radio frequency identification device capable of obtaining personal identifying information from a radio frequency identification tag or transponder with the knowledge that the device will be used to commit a felony.

If you are applying for a building permit, you may not provide the license number for a roofing or fire sprinkler contractor who you do not intend to use unless you promptly inform the municipality of the change in contractor.

You commit aggravated identity theft if your victim is above age 59 or is disabled or if your actions are intended to further the activities of an organized gang.

If you have been charged with identity theft or a similar 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 all the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Can they prove you knew the documents belonged to someone else or that you knew they would be used to commit a felony?

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 11, 2019

CAN EVIDENCE THAT AN OFFICER SAID “FELL OUT OF MY POCKET” BE USED AGAINST ME?

You were walking through a back alley when the police officer stopped you. In the police report, the officer claims that a packet of drugs or an illegal weapon simply fell out of your pocket. That simply didn’t happen, but this is still the basis for your arrest.

Can the officer get away with that?

The answer depends on how the court views the phenomena known as “dropsy” testimony.

“Dropsy” cases are those where an officer falsely testifies that a defendant dropped contraband in plain view “to avoid the exclusion of evidence on fourth-amendment grounds.” In New York, the problem became known as “testilying.” In these cases, it can be the officer’s word against the defendant’s.

When dealing with “dropsy” testimony, some courts refuse to admit it is a problem while others reject all “dropsy” testimony as a matter of law. Most courts, however, evaluate the credibility of the officer’s testimony in each case. Would the officer’s stop or search of the defendant violate the Fourth Amendment if the defendant hadn’t “dropped” the evidence in plain sight? If not, the officer’s testimony is more credible because the officer has nothing to gain by lying. If, yes, the officer’s incentive to lie to avoid suppression of the evidence is higher.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. The outcome of your case can become very fact- and judge-specific. An attorney who is familiar with the courthouse may be in a better position to present the facts of your case in their most favorable 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.

Source: People v Campbell

(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 27, 2019

CAN I BE CHARGED WITH AGGRAVATED BATTERY IF THE OFFICER IS OFF DUTY?

You picked a fight with the wrong guy--an off duty police officer who was moonlighting as a bouncer at your favorite bar. The charge would have been simple battery if the bouncer hadn’t been a cop, but instead you are charged with aggravated battery. Since the officer was off duty, can you still be convicted?

The answer is yes, provided the officer was performing his official duties. A recent Illinois case has held that preventing a crime, even to himself, falls within an officer’s official duties even if the officer is off work at the time.

In People v. Brewer, the defendant was convicted of first degree murder based on killing an officer in the course of his official duties. In this case, the state sought a higher sentence based on the victim’s status as an officer rather than asking for increased charges. The defendant argued that the officer was merely trying to defend himself as a crime victim and was not acting in the course of his official duties. The court disagreed.

The court held that any action taken by an officer to prevent a crime, including a crime against himself, was taken in the performance of official duties. An officer has the duty to maintain public order wherever he or she may be. The officer’s duties are not limited to a specific time and place. The defendant’s actions toward the officer was the crime which the officer had a duty to prevent.

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 your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? 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, September 20, 2019

THE CRIME OF UNAUTHORIZED VIDEO RECORDING IN ILLINOIS

In these days of ready access to webcams, cell phones and live video streaming, Illinois law has laid down some limits. Ignoring those limits can cost you criminal charges.

Under 720 ILCS 5/26-4, you may be charged with a misdemeanor or felony if you knowingly make a video or transmit live video of another person without that person’s consent in any of the following places:

(a) In a restroom, tanning bed, tanning salon, locker room, changing room, or hotel bedroom. (It is also illegal to place or cause to be placed a video recording or transmitting device in any of those places. Note that the definition of restroom is not limited to public facilities but includes restrooms in a person’s home).

(b) In another person’s residence without that person’s consent. (The definition of residence includes a rental dwelling but does not include areas to which the general public has access such as halls or stairways. Again, placing a video device in such an area is illegal. In People v. Maillet, the court held that the law applied where defendant recorded another resident in defendant’s own home).

(c) Outside the other person’s residence through use of an audio or video device that records or transmits from a remote location.

(d) Under or through clothing worn by the other person in order to view their body or undergarments.

You may also be charged if you knowingly disseminated or allowed such a video to be disseminated if you knew the video was made in violation of the law.

The law does exempt law enforcement officers, correctional officers and news reporters in certain situations such as where an officer pursues a criminal investigation or a news reporter covers a sports event from the locker room.

If you have been charged with a unauthorized video recording or other offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Do the police have probable cause to arrest you? Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? 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 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, September 10, 2019

WHAT ARE YOUR CHILD’S RIGHTS WHEN QUESTIONED BY POLICE?

After getting in trouble at school, your minor child was questioned by police. You were not present, and your child was scared and started talking.

What are your child’s rights?

Under 705 ILCS 405/5-401.5, your child’s statement is presumed inadmissible as evidence if an officer or other public official takes your child’s statement during a custodial interrogation without first reading your child his or Miranda rights. The officer must then ask: (A) “Do you want to have a lawyer?” and (B) “Do you want to talk to me?”

Further, any statement your minor child makes as a result of custodial interrogation conducted at a police station or other place of detention is presumed inadmissible as evidence unless the custodial interrogation is electronically recorded, and the recording is substantially accurate and not intentionally altered. Recording is only required for certain offenses such as felonies and misdemeanor sex offenses. An unrecorded statement may still be admitted under certain circumstances, such as when 1) electronic recording was not feasible, 2) your child spontaneously says something that wasn’t responding to a question, or 3) your child asks to talk without being recorded.

A statement made without the above safeguards may become admissible if the state can show by a preponderance of the evidence that the statement was voluntarily given and is reliable based on the totality of the circumstances.

Whether the above safeguards apply may depend on if your child is considered to be “in custody.” The above law defines “in custody” as “any interrogation (i) during which 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.”

If your child has been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your child’s case for its best possible defense. Was your child in custody? Did the police follow proper procedures? Can the state prove all the elements of your child’s offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Even if your child’s confession is admissible, an attorney can help protect his or her rights going forward and may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your child’s behalf.

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

See also In re Jose A.

(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 28, 2019

WHEN AM I CONSIDERED UNFIT TO STAND TRIAL IN ILLINOIS?

You must be fit to stand trial before you can be prosecuted. You must also be fit before sentencing or entering a plea agreement. Under Illinois law, you are not considered fit if you cannot assist in your defense or understand the nature and purposes of the proceedings against you because of your mental or physical condition.

If your fitness is in question, your attorney must raise the issue before a plea is entered or before, during or after trial. In other words, you cannot claim you are unfit after you have entered a plea agreement or been sentenced.

If there is bona fide doubt as to your fitness, the court must order a determination of that issue before moving forward with a plea agreement trial or sentencing.

Before trial and at your request, a qualified expert may be appointed to examine you in order to determine whether a bona fide doubt as to your fitness to stand trial may be raised. If there is such a doubt, then the court may order an appropriate examination. However, the order for an examination will not prevent further proceedings in the case from taking place.

When a bonafide doubt as to your fitness has been raised, the state must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that you actually are fit or else the case cannot move forward. The court may also call its own witnesses and conduct its own inquiry.

If you are deemed unfit, the court may rule on any motions where your presence is not essential to fairly determine the issues.

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 there are questions about your fitness, an attorney can help present them to the judge.

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 725 ILCS 5/104-11 and People v. Westfall.

(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 16, 2019

CAN I BE CONVICTED OF DISORDERLY CONDUCT FOR ASKING A QUESTION?

You were just curious, so you called a government office and started asking questions. You wanted to know how they handle threats involving guns or bombs. Something in the nature of your questions spooked the office manager, and now you have been charged with disorderly conduct.

Were your questions enough to get you convicted? What about freedom of speech? What can you do now?

In Illinois, depending on what you said and how you said it, you could be convicted of disorderly conduct. (See 720 ILCS 5/26-1(a)(1)). To do so, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you “knowingly” committed an act in an unreasonable manner that you knew or should have known would tend to alarm or disturb another so as to cause a breach of the peace. The court looks at the unreasonableness of your conduct and its tendency to disturb. You need not have made overt threats or used abusive language.

In People v. Swenson, the defendant asked a school what would happen if he showed up on campus with a gun, whether the school had bulletproof windows, and how long it would take for police to arrive. Amidst other bizarre comments, the defendant asked the school principal if she was prepared to have the “sacrificial blood of lambs” on her hands. The court held that under the circumstances, defendant clearly exceeded the bounds of reasonableness and that he should have known his conduct would be disturbing. The court also held that the First Amendment did not protect the manner in which defendant expressed himself.

If you have been charged with disorderly conduct or a similar crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? A determination of disorderly conduct is very fact specific. An experienced attorney, who knows the courthouse, may be able to present your facts to a judge in their most favorable 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.)

Friday, August 9, 2019

WILL MY OUTSTANDING COURT FINES KEEP ME FROM EXPUNGING OR SEALING MY CRIMINAL RECORD IN ILLINOIS?

The answer, in most cases, is no.

A change in Illinois law permits you to expunge or seal your criminal record notwithstanding any fines or fees you may owe.

Before you can clear your criminal record, your case must have been terminated. As of August 10, 2018, the definition of termination does not include any outstanding financial obligations. Therefore, the court cannot deny your petition because you owe a court or government imposed debt. Once your record is sealed, the court may still permit access to any records necessary to collect the debt from you.

The court may still deny your petition if you haven’t paid legal restitution to a victim unless that restitution has been converted to a civil judgment.

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. Reference: Public Act 100-0776

(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 2, 2019

ILLINOIS COURT FINDS ARREST BASED ON CHICAGO POLICE INVESTIGATIVE ALERT UNCONSTITUTIONAL

Chicago police regulations allow officers to arrest people on the basis of an investigative alert where there is probable cause to believe a suspect has committed a crime. But a recent Illinois court has now ruled this practice unconstitutional.

In People v. Bass, the defendant allegedly molested a minor. Chicago police issued an investigative alert but did not apply for an arrest warrant. Three weeks later, police pulled defendant over, ran a name check then arrested him based on the alert.

The court held the arrest illegal because an investigative alert allows a police supervisor—rather than a judge--to determine probable cause. The court reasoned that the Illinois constitution goes “a step beyond” the U.S. Constitution in requiring a warrant in these circumstances before a valid arrest can be made.

Although the arrest was illegal, the court sent the case back for a new trial because there was sufficient other evidence to convict defendant.

The court noted that only the Chicago Police Department appears to use investigative alerts (also called "stop orders”). By striking the practice, Chicago Police would be put on an equal footing with other police departments, the court said.

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. Did the police follow proper procedure to arrest you? 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 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.)

Thursday, July 18, 2019

CAN POLICE SEARCH THE HALLWAY OF YOUR APARTMENT BUILDING?

The Fourth Amendment guarantees citizens the right to be free from unlawful searches. Therefore, an officer cannot enter your home without a warrant unless some exception to the warrant requirement—such as consent—exists.

Court have also recognized that a certain area around your home, known as the curtilage, is protected from police intrusion. Your front porch would be one example but what about the hallway of an unlocked apartment building? An Illinois court says yes.

In People v Bonilla, an officer used a narcotics dog to sniff the hallway outside defendant’s apartment. The court held that the police officer’s actions constituted a search under the fourth amendment even though defendant’s apartment building was unlocked and unsecured. The court reasoned that a person who lived in an unlocked apartment building was not entitled to less protection than a person who lived in a locked apartment building. At the heart of the fourth amendment is a person’s right to retreat into his or her own home and be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion. The fourth amendment does not differentiate as to the type of home involved.

The defendant may have lacked a reasonable expectation of complete privacy in the hallway or an absolute right to exclude all others from it. But this did not mean that police could use sensitive devices or a trained drug-detection dog directly in front of his apartment door.

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. Were police searching somewhere they had no right to be? 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.

(The Illinois Supreme Court upheld the above decision on appeal in People v. Bonilla).

(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 12, 2019

ILLINOIS ACCOMODATION FOR DEAF PRISONERS

For the deaf, imprisonment can be especially isolating and punitive. Inmates may literally have no one to talk to. As a result of a federal class action law suit, Illinois agreed to accommodate prisoners with hearing disabilities.

Among its terms, the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) will begin screen for hearing loss, create a centralized database on inmates with hearing disabilities and provide a specialist to assess an inmate’s need for services. IDOC must keep a ready supply of hearing aid batteries. IDOC must also make certain technologies available, such as amplified telephones and a teletypewriter.

IDOC audio-visual media such as televisions and movies must have open and closed captioning. Hearing impaired inmates may choose headphones that prevent them from disturbing other inmates.

IDOC must adopt visual and tactile alert notifications. Such notices may be used to inform inmates of mealtime, visitors, medical appointments, evacuations and emergencies.

Handcuffs may be removed to allow a prisoner to communicate through American Sign Language. Hearing impaired prisoners must have equal job opportunities.

The settlement may be viewed at uplc.chicagoorg

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 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.)

Monday, July 1, 2019

CAN YOU BE CHARGED WITH UNLAWFUL USE OF A WEAPON WHEN YOU ACTED IN SELF DEFENSE?

You were visiting family when things got crazy. One drunken relative started beating their spouse so you grabbed the family gun to put a stop to it. But since you didn’t have a gun license, the police arrested you on a weapons charge.

Can they do that if you were just trying to protect yourself? Depending on the facts, a recent Illinois court said no.

You may be charged with Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon if you (1) knowingly carried or concealed on your person an uncased and loaded pistol, (2) at a time when you were not on your own land, in your own abode, or in a fixed place of business, or you were on public land, (3) that pistol was immediately accessible when you carried it, and (4) you did not have a Firearm Owner’s Identification card or concealed carry license.

On the other hand, you may be acting in self defense or defense of another if (1) unlawful force is threatened against a person, (2) the person threatened was not the aggressor, (3) the danger of harm was imminent, (4) the use of force (by the threatened person) was necessary, (5) the person threatened actually and subjectively believed a danger existed that required the use of force applied, and (6) the beliefs of the person threatened were objectively reasonable.

In People v. Crowder, the court held that self defense could be a defense to a weapons charge: In that case, three men knocked down the defendant’s father and threatened to kill him. Defendant grabbed the gun from his father’s holster to protect both his father and himself. The court reversed his conviction based on necessity or self defense.

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. 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 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, June 3, 2019

CAN I SHOW MY TATTOOS AT TRIAL WITHOUT HAVING TO TESTIFY?

Let’s say you have been arrested based on an eye witness’s identification. The witness, however, is mistaken, and you can prove it by showing that you have physical characteristics missing from the witness’s description. For a number of reasons, your lawyer does not want you to testify on your own behalf. Can you show your physical characteristics without taking the stand?

A recent Illinois court decision says that you can—provided you can lay the foundation necessary to admit the characteristic into evidence.

In People v. Gonzalez, the defendant was linked to a murder based solely on eyewitness identification. The witnesses, however, did not mention the tattoos on defendant’s hands. The defendant wanted to show his tattoos at trial. The court denied his request reasoning that the state would be unable to cross-examine defendant as to when he had obtained the tattoos.

The appellate court disagreed. Physical characteristics are not testimonial and therefore do not raise the right to cross-examine. In fact, the state can force a defendant to show tattoos without violating the defendant’s right against self-incrimination. Foundation on the timing of the tattoos could instead be laid by a tattoo parlor receipt or by testimony from other witnesses who could then be cross-examined. Therefore, a defendant can show his tattoos without testifying.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can help present the facts of your case for your best possible defense. Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Can you present evidence in your defense without having to testify? 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 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, May 27, 2019

CAN YOU SUPPRESS INCRIMINATING STATEMENTS MADE AT AN ARREST?

When the police came after you, you said some foolish things that you wish you could take back. Is there a way?

The answer may turn on the exact moment you were legally under arrest.

Generally, you are under arrest if a reasonable person in your shoes would feel they were not free to leave. If you could have walked away but didn’t, your statements may be used against you. If a reasonable person would not feel free to leave and no Miranda warnings were given, an attorney may be able to ask the court to suppress your statements.

To determine when you are under arrest, Illinois courts have weighed the following factors: 1) the threatening presence of several officers, 2) some physical touching of your person, 3) the use of language or tone of voice indicating that you may be compelled to comply with the officer’s request, 4) the time, place, length, mood, and mode of the encounter between you and police, 5) any indication of formal arrest or restraint such as the use of handcuffs or display of weapons, 6) the officers’ intent, 7) your subjective belief or understanding, 8) whether you were told you could refuse to accompany police or that you were free to leave, 9) whether you were transported in a police car, 10) whether you were told you were under arrest, and 11) the language officers used.

For example, in People v Gutierrez, the court found that the defendant’s actual arrest occurred in defendant’s home rather than at the police station. Six to ten armed officers had arrived at defendant’s home awakening him at 5 a.m. Officers searched defendant’s bedroom. Defendant was never told he was free to leave. Finally, defendant was handcuffed and transported in a police car, although this was not necessary to ensure the safety of the officers or investigation. Therefore, a reasonable person would not have felt free to leave. Because defendant’s arrest had been illegal, his statements could not be used unless the prosecution could otherwise show that the statements did not stem from the illegal arrest.

If you are charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can evaluate your case for its best possible defense. If officers lacked probable cause to arrest you or failed to read your Miranda warnings, an attorney may petition the court to dismiss the evidence against you. Even if officers acted legally 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, May 10, 2019

CAN YOUR SPOUSE BE FORCED TO TESTIFY AGAINST YOU IN ILLINOIS?

You’ve seen the movie. The leading man’s girl knows too much about the crime. The solution: Get married! Then, she can’t be forced to testify.

But is that how it works in real life? For the most part, the answer is yes. But there are exceptions.

Under 725 ILCS 5/115-16, spouses may testify against each other but not as to any communications made between them during their marriage. For the marital privilege to apply, the communicating spouse must intend to convey a confidential message made in reliance on the confidence of the marital relationship.

The marital privilege does have limits. The communication must be confidential. It is not confidential if the communication is made before a third party. The third party may testify about what you said even if the third party was eavesdropping. Likewise, the third party may testify about written marital communications that he or she got through interception, loss or mistaken delivery.

Spouses may be compelled to testify against each other when they are involved in a joint criminal enterprise. As such, Bonnie could be forced to testify against Clyde. Your spouse may also testify if he or she acted as your agent.

Naturally, the privilege does not apply if you commit an offense against your spouse, their property or a minor child in either spouse’s care.

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. Is your spouse a witness in your case? Under the right circumstances, an attorney may be able to petition the court to exclude their testimony.

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 People v. Gliniewicz.

(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, April 26, 2019

IS PROTECTING MY PROPERTY A DEFENSE TO DOMESTIC BATTERY?

During a break-up, your now ex-girlfriend refused to give you your I-phone. She taunted you by threatening to drop it into a sink full of water, so you grabbed her and yanked it out of her hand. Now you are charged with domestic battery.

You were just trying to save your phone. Is that a defense?

To convict you of domestic battery in Illinois, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly, without legal justification, made physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with a family or household member. 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2(a)(2). However, you may be justified in using force to defend your property if you reasonably believed that force was necessary to stop another from damaging or criminally interfering with personal property that is lawfully in your possession. 720 ILCS 5/7-3.

Determining whether you are justified in defending your property can be very fact specific and can greatly depend on how your particular judge views the evidence. Therefore, it is important to hire an experienced criminal law attorney who is familiar with the courthouse and can present the facts of your case in their best possible light. Do not try to talk your way out of your situation because you may instead give the state the evidence they need to convict you.

In People v Bausch, the court found a defendant’s use of force was not justified to defend his property where he grabbed his wife on the mere suspicion that the title and keys to his boat were in her purse.

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, April 19, 2019

ILLINOIS BATTERY TO A CHILD: WHEN DOES SPANKING GO TOO FAR?

At what point does a parent’s right to discipline his or her child turn into a felony?

Under Illinois law, parents who believe in corporal punishment may use it to discipline their children as long as such punishment is necessary and reasonable. Beyond that, you could be charged with domestic or aggravated battery.

So how do you know if you’ve crossed that line?

In Illinois, courts look at the following: (1) the degree of physical injury inflicted upon the child, (2) the likelihood of future punishment that may be more injurious, (3) the fact that any injury resulted from the discipline, (4) the psychological effects on the child, and (5) the circumstances surrounding the discipline, including whether the parent was calmly attempting to discipline the child or whether the parent was lashing out in anger.

In People v. Parrott, the court held that a parent’s discipline was not reasonable or necessary where the parent hit a six-year-old child several times with a belt for eating a biscuit, and the child had welts on his legs.

In People v. Royster, the defendant was the fiancĂ© of the child’s mother and had permission to discipline her two-year-old. After the child threw a tantrum at a doctor’s office, the defendant repeatedly struck the child until office workers intervened. A jury convicted the defendant for aggravated battery.

If you are charged with battery to a child, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not try to talk your way out of the situation because you could end up giving the state the evidence they need to convict you. While the state must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt, the parent has the burden of showing that any discipline was in fact reasonable and necessary. Because the determination of reasonable and necessary is so fact specific, an attorney can help you present your situation 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.)

Friday, April 12, 2019

THE CRIME OF FORGERY IN ILLINOIS

You altered a check made payable to your girlfriend, or you used her digital signature to get at her funds. Or maybe you used counterfeit money to pay for an expensive TV. Now you are charged with forgery. What is forgery? What can you do? In Illinois, you commit forgery when, you knowingly with intent to defraud:

(1) make a false document or alter any document to make it false and that document is apparently capable of defrauding another; or

(2) issue or deliver the knowingly false document; or

(3) possess, with intent to issue or deliver the false document; or

(4) unlawfully use the digital signature of another; or

(5) unlawfully use another’s signature device to create their electronic signature.

To convict you, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you acted knowingly and that you specifically intended to deceive someone in order to cause financial loss to another or financial gain to yourself. You need not actually defraud or deceive the other person. The court may infer your intent to deceive from all the facts surrounding your transaction

For most offenses, forgery is a Class 3 felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison. Forgery is a Class 4 felony (1 to 4 years) if only one Universal Price Code Label is forged, and a Class A misdemeanor (up to 1 year in jail) if a coin or academic degree or coin is forged unless the academic degree is explicitly marked "for novelty purposes only.”

If you have been charged with forgery or a similar crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Because proving intent is so fact-specific, an attorney can help present your fact situation in its most favorable light. Can the state prove that your use of the digital signature was unlawful or that you knew the money you used was counterfeit?

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 Johnson.

(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, April 5, 2019

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FELONY AND MISDEMEANOR DISORDERLY CONDUCT IN ILLINOIS?

In Illinois, some types of disorderly conduct are more serious than others. Disorderly conduct can mean creating a public disturbance or peeping in windows, but it can also mean filing a false police report as was charged in the recent Jussie Smolett case.

The most familiar definition of disorderly conduct is also the least serious. If you acted unreasonably so as to alarm or disturb others, you can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor. Your conduct must have provoked a breach of the peace. For example, you yelled threats to beat someone up in an alley.

If you peep in windows, the charges are stiffer. It is a Class A misdemeanor if you enter another’s property and deliberately look into their dwelling for a lewd or unlawful purpose.

If you made a false report, the severity of your offense depends on to whom you made the report. Disorderly conduct is a Class B misdemeanor if you made false reports to the Department of Public Health under certain statutes. But your offense becomes a Class A misdemeanor if you made the false report to a public safety agency without the reasonable belief the report was necessary.

A false report made without reasonable grounds to the police, emergency services, the fire department or the Department of Children and Family Services upgrades your offense to a Class 4 felony.

Transmitting threats of destruction to school property or violence or death against persons at school is also a Class 4 felony. But the most serious disorderly conduct is transmitting a false bomb scare when you had no reasonable grounds for believing such a threat exists. Doing so is a Class 3 felony.

If you are accused of disorderly conduct, 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 all the elements of the offense against you beyond a reasonable doubt. Perhaps you had reasonable grounds to believe the report you made was true. Or perhaps you were not deliberately looking into anyone’s windows, and the victim mistook the angle of your view.

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 Disorderly Conduct 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.)

Thursday, March 21, 2019

ILLINOIS EXPANDS ELIGIBILITY FOR PROTECTION UNDER DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAWS

As you may imagine, domestic violence laws were intended to apply to the domestic front—people close to your home such as a family member or significant other.

Parties eligible for an Illinois order of protection from domestic abuse include: 1) any person abused by a family or household member; 2) any minor child or dependent adult in the care of such person; and 3) any person residing or employed at a private home or public shelter which is housing an abused family or household member.

As of January, 2019, the Illinois legislature expanded the list of parties eligible for an order of protection to include the following: 1) foster parents of a child placed by a state agency, 2) legally appointed guardians or custodians, 3) adoptive parents or 4) prospective adoptive parents. Furthermore, the law applies to any individual who would have been considered a family or household member of a child before a parent’s rights have been terminated.

If someone is seeking an order of protection against you or you have been accused of violating an order of protection, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not try to talk your way out of your situation. What you may think is a reasonable explanation may give the state or other party the ammunition they need to enforce an order against you. An attorney can help present your situation to the court in its most favorable 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.

See: Amendment to Illinois Domestic Violence Act.

(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 8, 2019

WHEN DOES POLICE QUESTIONING MEAN I’M UNDER ARREST?

Something bad just happened in your neighborhood. Maybe it was an attack or a robbery. Since you were in the area, the police questioned you. You tried to cooperate, but then things started to get tense. The police seem to blame you. You want to walk away, but you are afraid the police will stop you.

When does police questioning become a seizure and cross the line into arrest?

The answer depends on whether you as a reasonable person would feel free to leave. Courts look at a variety of factors to determine when a seizure has occurred including: (1) the threatening presence of multiple officers, (2) the display of a weapon by an officer, (3) some physical touching of your person, and (4) the use of language or tone of voice indicating that your compliance might be compelled. The court may also look at other types of coercive police behavior.

In People v Sanchez, the defendant was convicted of murder. The court held that a police stop had become a seizure when police ordered the defendant to come to them in an authoritative tone of voice. Defendant was then handcuffed and ordered to sit on the curb. A reasonable person, the court said, would not have felt free to leave.

Establishing the exact point a seizure has occurred can be important in determining whether the police had the necessary probable cause to arrest you. If the officer lacked probable cause until after the seizure, the arrest itself might be illegal.

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 the police seized you without probable cause, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the evidence from the illegal 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.)

Thursday, February 28, 2019

WHAT CAN I EXPECT WHEN MY CHILD HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH STATUTORY RAPE IN ILLINOIS?

Your son has been dating a16-year-old girl from his high school for several months. Although you cautioned him about premarital sex, everything you said went in one ear and out the other. To make matters worse, her father found out right after your son turned 18. Now he is facing criminal charges for statutory rape.

What is statutory rape? What are the penalties? What can you do?

In Illinois, statutory rape means sexual penetration or conduct with someone at least 13 and less than 17 years old if you are no more than 5 years older than your partner. It is also statutory rape if you are under age 17 and have sex with someone at least 9 but under 17 years of age. Statutory rape is not the same as forcible rape. (See 720 ILCS 5/11-1.50(b) and (c)).

Statutory rape is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. Crazy though it may seem, your high school student could also end up on the sex offender registry, although a recent court decision indicated this punishment might be excessive.

In People v Kochevar, the defendant, then 16, met a girl, then 14, through high school track. The two had sex after he turned 18. The girl’s parents called the police. The defendant was convicted of one count of criminal sexual abuse. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail (all but 10 were suspended) and 24 months of probation. Further, he had to register as a sex offender, undergo sex offender treatment and aftercare, provide a DNA sample and pay various fines. Despite Illinois case law stating that the registry is not actually punishment, the Kochevar court held that the registry was disproportionately punitive to defendant. As a result, the court vacated that part of defendant’s sentence.

If you or your child has been charged with statutory rape or a similar crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not make statements to the police or third parties. What you think sounds like common sense may give the state evidence to convict you. An experienced criminal law attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Was police questioning proper? Can the state prove all the elements of your or your child’s offense beyond a reasonable doubt? How reliable is the complaining witness? Even if the evidence 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 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 15, 2019

WHAT IS A DEFENSE TO FELONY MURDER?

Under the Illinois felony murder law, you can be convicted of first degree murder if you kill another person without lawful justification while committing a forcible felony other than second degree murder. A forcible felony includes offenses such as aggravated battery or other crimes of violence. To convict you, the state must show that your felonious actions set in motion the chain of events that led to the victim’s death.

But what if the death came before the felony? One Illinois court overturned a defendant’s conviction on just those grounds. In People v Space, the defendant shot the victim to death before shooting at a third party. The defendant was convicted of felony murder based on the aggravated battery with a firearm to the third party. Under those circumstances, the court said that the act causing the death occurred before the underlying felony. Therefore, the state could not prove all the elements of felony murder, and the defendant’s conviction was overturned.

The distinction between felony murder and other types of first degree murder may seem largely academic. The above defendant was still convicted of the aggravated battery with a firearm. The difference lies in your state of mind. First degree murder requires the state to prove you intended to kill. Under felony murder, the state need only show that you caused the death. Thus, felony murder may be easier for the state to prove.

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. 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. See Illinois 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.)

Thursday, February 7, 2019

I WAS ARRESTED IN CHICAGO, BUT MY CASE IS IN SKOKIE

You live in Chicago, your offense was in Chicago, the police arrested you in Chicago, so you fully expected your court would be in Chicago. But to your surprise, your case is assigned to the Cook County Circuit Court in Skokie at 5600 Old Orchard Road.

Why is that? What does it mean for you?

Due to Cook County cost-saving measures, two district courthouses in Chicago are now closed. As a result, all felony cases from the court formerly located at Belmont and Western have now been sent to Skokie. The good news is there are many fine judges in Skokie who will give your case a fair hearing.

In Skokie, your preliminary hearing will likely be heard in Room 105. At that hearing, the court determines whether the state has enough probable cause to proceed on your case. If so, your case will be transferred to another Skokie courtroom. If not, your case could be dismissed.

As in most cases, it helps to have an attorney who is familiar with and respected by the judges and the states attorneys at the court where your case is being handled. Knowledge of the courthouse can be important in determining the best strategy for your case.

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. Was police questioning proper? 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 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, February 4, 2019

DRUG CRIMES WITHIN 500 FEET OF A CHURCH IN ILLINOIS

You were in an alley making a deal when the police arrived and charged you with delivering drugs. You thought you could cope with the misdemeanor, but it turns out you were within 500 feet of a church. Because of that, the charges are greater.

Can you fight the stiffer charge? Did that building near the alley even look like a church?

Under Illinois law, the penalty for a drug-related crime can be upgraded if you committed that offense on or 500 feet from any church, synagogue or other building, structure or place used primarily for religious worship. (See 720 ILCS 570/407). A church or synagogue are clearly places of worship within the meaning of the law. But what about other structures where it’s less than obvious?

To determine whether a "church,” is a place of worship, a building need not have the particular physical characteristics of a church. Instead the court looks at whether the structure is primarily used for religious purposes. Thus, a Salvation Army building was deemed a church because people came to its chapel solely for the purpose of attending religious services. (See People v. Sparks). Even where a building is a place of religious worship, it must be one on the date of the offense.

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. As with most crimes, the state must prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Were you within 500 feet of the alleged place of worship? Was it a place of worship?

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, January 15, 2019

CAN YOU SUPPRESS STATEMENTS MADE AFTER AN ILLEGAL ARREST?

The police stopped you for not doing much of anything. They took you into custody and because you were nervous, you couldn’t stop talking. If the original arrest was without probable cause, can your statements be used against you?

To answer that question, courts look at the connection between your statements and your arrest. If the connection is too close, an experienced criminal law attorney could petition the court to suppress anything you said after the arrest. However, your statements may still come into evidence if the court finds a separate basis from the illegal arrest for admitting them.

To use your statements, the state must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the challenged evidence was obtained by means sufficiently distinguishable to be purged of the primary taint of the illegal arrest. A court considers the following factors: (1) the nearness in time between the arrest and the statement; (2) the presence of intervening circumstances; (3) the provision of Miranda warnings; and (4) the flagrancy of the police misconduct. Intervening circumstances can mean either intervening probable cause or intervening events. Of these four factors, the presence of intervening circumstances and the flagrancy of police conduct are the most important. The court may consider other factors as appropriate.

In People v Hernandez, a defendant confessed after being confronted with a bogus gun residue test. The defendant’s arrest was considered illegal. The court weighed the following factors: 1) The six-hours between defendant’s arrest and confession were too close in time; 2) The bogus gun residue test was not an intervening circumstance; 3) Police read defendant his Miranda rights, but only once at the beginning; and 4) There was no evidence of how police behaved during the initial confrontation and arrest. Under these circumstances, the court held that the connection between defendant’s statements and his illegal arrest were too close and thus, the statements could not be used.

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. 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.

See our related post: Fruit of the Poison Tree: Statements from an Illegal Arrest.

(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 7, 2019

CAN THE POLICE TRACK MY MOVEMENTS THROUGH MY CELL PHONE WITHOUT A WARRANT?

A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision has held that police must obtain a warrant before tracking your movements through cell phone signals.

Each time your phone connects to a cell site, it leaves a trace in the form of a time-stamped record. Based on these records, police can track where you’ve been. Writing for the majority in Carpenter v. United States, Justice Roberts observed that such cell site location information (CSLI) is “detailed, encyclopedic and effortlessly compiled.”

The court analogized CSLIs to GPS monitoring which is also protected by the Fourth Amendment. The court rejected the argument that CSLIs are like telephone numbers and bank records which are held by third parties and thus do not require a warrant.

Justice Roberts wrote: “Given the unique nature of cell phone location records, the fact that the information is held by a third party does not by itself overcome the user’s claim to Fourth Amendment protection. Whether the Government employs its own surveillance technology … or leverages the technology of a wireless carrier, we hold that an individual maintains a legitimate expectation of privacy in the record of his physical movements as captured through CSLI.

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. Did the police collect evidence without a required search warrant? If so, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress any evidence that was improperly obtained.

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.)