Monday, December 16, 2019

WHAT IS OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE IN ILLINOIS?

Two officers were chasing a suspect down an alley. The suspect happens to be your cousin. The officers asked you which way you he ran and you pointed them in the opposite direction.

Can you be charged with a crime? The answer is yes.

In Illinois, you can be charged with Obstructing Justice if you intend to prevent the apprehension or obstruct the prosecution or defense of any person (including yourself), and you knowingly:

  1. Destroy, alter, conceal or disguise physical evidence, plant false evidence, furnish false information;
  2. Induce a witness having knowledge material to the subject at issue to leave the State or conceal him or herself;
  3. Leave the State or conceal yourself when you possess knowledge material to the subject at issue;
  4. or
  5. Provide false information to officials during the investigation of the death or disappearance of a child and you are a parent, legal guardian, or caretaker of that child who is under 13 years of age.

Illinois appellate courts are divided on whether the law requires that providing false information result in a material impediment to the administration of justice. The Fifth District Court of Appeals says it does not, but the Second District says that it does. See People v. Casler, People v. Gordon and People V. Taylor. The defendants in all three cases gave false names to police.

Obstructing justice is a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 4 years in prison. If the obstruction is intended to further street gang-related activity, you may be instead charged with a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years in prison.

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.)

Monday, December 9, 2019

VIOLATING AN ORDER OF PROTECTION IN ILLINOIS

Your ex-spouse has an order of protection against you. You thought it was still okay to call her best friend, but now the police have arrested you for violating the order.

What is the law? What can you do?

You can be charged with violating an order of protection if you 1) knowingly commit an act prohibited by the order or fail to commit an act ordered by the order, and 2) you have been served notice or have actual knowledge of the contents of the order. To avoid trouble, you should read any order carefully and err widely on the side of caution before doing anything that could possibly fall within its terms.

For example in People v. Nelson, an order of protection barred the defendant from sending mail to his infant daughter’s mother. The defendant attempted to evade the order by addressing letters to his daughter. The letters, however, discussed subjects such as the couple’s sex life and the mother’s drug use. The court found the letters were intended for the mother so that the defendant had violated the order. For one thing, the infant daughter could not read. As a result, the defendant was sentenced to six years in prison.

In People v. Mortensen, the defendant violated an order by placing flowers and cupcakes on his estranged wife’s doorstep. The order had required defendant to stay 1000 feet from her residence. The court rejected defendant’s argument that this provision only applied when his wife was at home.

If you have been charged with violating an order of protection or similar crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Were you properly served with the order? If not, did you know about it? Did you knowingly commit the act that violated it? Through a careful reading of the order, an attorney may be able to make a good faith argument that your actions fell outside the order’s terms.

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 Violation of an Order of Protection.

(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.)