Monday, November 18, 2019

CAN THEY PROVE I HAD A GUN?

After a car accident, you and the other driver started argueing. You grabbed your cell phone, but the other driver told police you had a gun. You did have a gun in your glove compartment, but you never removed it. Now you are charged with unlawful use of a weapon.

Is the other driver’s testimony enough to convict you? An Illinois court says not necessarily.

In People v. McLaurin, an officer testified that she saw the defendant, a convicted felon, carrying what appeared to be a silver handgun when leaving an apartment building. The officer could not describe the gun or say whether it was a revolver or semi-automatic. A gun was later found under a nearby vehicle.

The court held that where the sole basis of an offense is possession of a firearm, possession of that gun cannot be inferred from circumstantial evidence. Rather, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant possessed a firearm as defined under Illinois law. The state failed to prove that the officer had in fact seen a firearm, and thus defendant’s conviction was overturned.

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 the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. An attorney can probe for weaknesses in the state’s evidence: Can the witness see well? How far away was the supposed weapon? Can the witness describe what they saw? 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, November 15, 2019

WHAT IS AGGRAVATED CRIMINAL SEXUAL ABUSE IN ILLINOIS?

In Illinois, a charge of criminal sexual abuse can be upgraded to a Class 2 felony if during the offense:
  1. You use a dangerous weapon or other object such that the victim reasonably believes you have a dangerous weapon;
  2. You cause the victim bodily harm;,/li>
  3. The victim is age 60 or older or has a physical disability or severe intellectual disability;
  4. You threaten or endanger the victim or some other person’s life;
  5. The sexual conduct is committed during the course of any other felony;
  6. You drugged the victim without their consent or by threat or deception;
  7. You committed a sex act with a family member under age 18;
  8. You are at least 17 and the victim is under age 13 or you used or threaten force on a victim who is at least 13 but under age 17;
  9. You are under age 17 and the victim is under age 9 or you use force or threaten force on a victim who is at least age 9 but under age 17;
  10. The victim is at least 13 but under age 18 and you are over age 17 and hold a position of trust or supervision such as a teacher or security guard.

See 720 ILCS 5/11-1.60 Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse.

If you have been charged with a sexual offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. As with most crimes, the state must prove all the elements of the underlying sexual offense as well as any aggravating factors beyond a reasonable doubt. Can the state accurately identify you? How reliable is the witness’s recollection of events? Is there any possibility you were falsely accused? Was the evidence against you properly handled? 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, 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.)