Wednesday, January 22, 2020

WHEN CAN A COURT DISMISS MY CRIMINAL CASE?

Criminal cases do not routinely get thrown out of court short of a plea agreement or trial. But the court can dismiss your case if it meets certain criteria.

A court may dismiss a case on any of the following bases:

  1. Your case did not go to trial within the time limits of the speedy trial act.
  2. Prosecution is barred by double jeopardy.
  3. You received immunity from prosecution.
  4. You were indicted by a grand jury that was not properly selected or certified, resulting in substantial injustice to you.
  5. The court does not have jurisdiction or the county is an improper place of trial.
  6. The charge against you does not state an offense. For example, the indictment omits an element of the offense charged.
  7. The indictment against you is based on testimony from an incompetent witness, for example, the witness is mentally ill.
  8. You are incorrectly named resulting in substantial injustice to you.
  9. Bail was not set or you were not indicted by a grand jury within certain time limits.

Apart from the above statutory grounds, the court may dismiss a case where there is a clear denial of due process which prejudices you. (See People v. Atchison and People v. Lopez.) Be aware, however, that whether a judge thinks your case meets the legal grounds for dismissal can be very fact specific and opinions can differ widely between judges. Therefore, an attorney who knows the courthouse may be better able to present your case in its most favorable light before your particular judge.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. If your case meets one of the above criteria, an attorney may be able bring a motion before the court seeking dismissal.

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 5/114-1.

(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, January 10, 2020

ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS “REVENGE PORN” STATUTE

The Illinois “Revenge Porn” statute does not require a vengeful intent, and the Illinois Supreme Court has said that is OK. In a recent decision, the court concluded the statute did not violate the First Amendment by unduly restricting free speech.

Under the law, it is a Class 4 felony to intentionally disseminate an identifiable image of another person over age 18 involved in a sex act or whose intimate parts are exposed where the image was obtained under circumstances in which a reasonable person would understand the image was to remain private and should know that the person in the image did not consent to the dissemination. See 720 ILCS 5/11-23.5.

An “image” includes photographs, films, videotape, digital recordings or other depictions of an object, including a human body. “Intimate parts” is defined as “the fully unclothed, partially unclothed or transparently clothed genitals, pubic area, anus, or if the person is female, a partially or fully exposed nipple including exposure through transparent clothing.” Under the law, sharing a nude drawing could potentially become a Class 4 felony.

The law contains certain exceptions such as if the image was disseminated: 1) for purposes of a criminal investigation, 2) for reporting unlawful conduct, 3) where the images involve voluntary exposure for commercial purposes or 4) for some other lawful purpose.

In People v. Austin, the defendant discovered the victim’s texts and nude photos on her fiancé’s phone. The defendant broke off her engagement. Her ex-fiancé then told friends and family that she was crazy. In response, the defendant wrote a letter explaining her side of the story and including four pictures of the naked victim. Because the Illinois law does not contain a mental intent element, it does not require a vengeful motive. In this case, the defendant was convicted for essentially defending herself against her fiancé’s statements. Nevertheless, the Court reasoned that the statute did not restrict speech of public concern, and thus did not violate the First Amendment nor due process.

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. Did you have reason to believe that the image was intended to remain private or that the victim had not consented to its dissemination? 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, January 2, 2020

THE CRIME OF DEFACING A WEAPON IN ILLINOIS

Defacing a firearm in Illinois is serious business.

If you knowingly or intentionally changed, removed or obliterated the name of the importer's or manufacturer's serial number from any firearm, you can be charged with a Class 2 felony.

Simply possessing a firearm where the serial number has been changed or removed is a Class 3 felony. See 720 ILC 5/24-5. To convict you for possession, the State need only prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly possessed a firearm which was defaced. The state need not show that you knew the weapon was defaced.

The law exempts people who repair or replace parts on guns if they remove marks other than the serial number. The state has six years to bring charges against you for defacing or possessing a defaced gun.

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 have probable cause to search the premises where they found the defaced weapon? Can the state prove that you knowingly possessed the gun? 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.

Source: People v Lee

(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.)