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.)