Sunday, March 29, 2020

ILLINOIS CYBERSTALKING LAW DOES NOT VIOLATE FIRST AMENDMENT

You texted some things you probably shouldn’t have to your ex-fiancĂ©. You knew the texts were nasty, but you were blowing off steam. And what about your right to free speech?

A recent Illinois court decision has held that certain comments, such as true threats, are not protected speech under the First Amendment.

Under one definition of cyberstalking, the state must prove that you knowingly and without lawful justification harassed another person at least twice through electronic communication, and you transmitted a threat of bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement, or restraint which was directed towards that person or their family; or you placed that person in reasonable fear of such harm or you solicited a third person to commit cyberstalking for you. (See 720 ILCS 5/12-7.5(a-3)).

In People v. Crawford, the court rejected the idea that the cyberstalking law violated due process or free speech. In that case, the defendant sent several text messages telling the victim she was “GONE DIE,” and “I WILL F*** MURDER U.” The defendant argued his statements were protected by the First Amendment. The court disagreed stating that the defendant’s messages were true threats, and thus not constitutionally-protected speech. True threats are statements where you intend to communicate a serious expression of your intent to commit an act of violence to a particular individual or group. You need not actually intend to carry out your threat.

If you have been charged with cyberstalking or a similar offense, 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. Were your texts true threats or were they misunderstood? Were you just kidding around? Was the victim’s fear of harm reasonable? 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, March 20, 2020

WHAT IS THE CRIME OF AGGRAVATED STALKING IN ILLINOIS?

Under Illinois law, you commit aggravated stalking when you stalk another and either 1) cause bodily harm; 2) confine or restrain that person; 3) violate a court order; or 4) stalk a victim or their family when you were required to register as a sex offender because of an offense against that victim. (See Aggravated Stalking.)

Stalking means that you knowingly engaged in conduct directed at a specific person, that you knew or should have known would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress or fear for their own or another’s safety.

Stalking is also defined as knowingly following another person and/or placing them under surveillance at least twice, and threatening them or placing them in reasonable fear of bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement or restraint. The threat must have been directed towards that person or their family member. Surveilling a person includes staying outside of their school, place of employment, vehicle, other place occupied by them or their residence unless it is your own.

Aggravated stalking is a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years in prison. A second or subsequent conviction is a Class 2 felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Would your conduct have caused a reasonable person to fear harm? Was your conduct even directed at the alleged victim? Did you violate the specific terms of any no-contact order? 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 case in hopes of winning a not guilty verdict.

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: People v. Taylor

(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, March 16, 2020

DO I STILL NEED TO COME TO COOK COUNTY COURT FOR MY CRIMINAL CASE DURING THE CORONAVIRUS QUARANTINE?

While the Cook County Circuit Court will be primarily closed from March 17, 2020 to April 15, 2020, you may still need to appear on certain criminal matters. Please be aware that the guidelines below may change. The best advice is to check with your attorney before your scheduled court date.

All adult criminal trials scheduled for the next 30 days are postponed and will be rescheduled. The court, however, will still conduct bail hearings, preliminary hearings and arraignments. Since these are the first three proceedings in a felony matter, you will likely need to appear if your felony is new.

The court will also enter plea agreements that conclude a case. A pretrial defendant may also request a bail review.

While high-risk adults on probation must still report to their probation officers, low and medium-risk adults need not meet in person, and a probation officer will contact them about a phone or video conference meeting.

Juvenile defendants in delinquency and criminal proceedings may still demand trial and the court shall still hold detention hearings to determine if a juvenile shall be held in custody while a case is open.

Most matters involving child abuse and neglect will move forward as well as orders of protection on domestic violence matters.

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: Cook County Circuit Court Information Regarding Coronavirus

(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 6, 2020

ARE STUN GUNS AND TASERS PROTECTED BY THE SECOND AMENDMENT?

According to the Illinois Supreme Court, the answer is yes.

The court struck down the portion of the Unlawful Use of a Weapon (UUW) law that banned carrying or possessing a stun gun or taser. See People v. Webb.

Under Illinois law, you can be charged with unlawful use of a weapon if you carry a concealed firearm in violation of the Firearm Concealed Carry Act. The Act allows you to carry a concealed firearm if certain conditions are met such as that you possess a valid Firearm Owners Identification card. Under the law, a concealed firearm is defined as “a loaded or unloaded handgun carried on or about a person completely or mostly concealed from view of the public or on or about a person within a vehicle.” A handgun is then defined as “any device which is designed to expel a projectile or projectiles by the action of an explosion, expansion of gas, or escape of gas that is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand.”

A handgun does not include 1) a stun gun or taser, 2) machine gun, 3) short-barreled rifle or shotgun or (4) any pneumatic gun, spring gun, paint ball gun, or B-B gun which expels a single globular projectile not exceeding .18 inch in diameter, or which has a maximum muzzle velocity of less than 700 feet per second, or which expels breakable paint balls containing washable marking colors.

The Illinois Supreme court held that a stun gun or taser cannot be licensed under the FCCA because it is excluded from the definition of handgun, and that such a categorical ban violates the Second Amendment.

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 you were charged or convicted under a law that was later ruled unconstitutional, an attorney may be able to bring a motion to have the charges dismissed or your conviction vacated.

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, March 3, 2020

CAN I BE CHARGED WITH ESCAPE FOR RUNNING FROM POLICE DURING AN ARREST?

You’ve seen the movies. The prisoner busts out of jail and makes a run for it complete with searchlights circling, dogs barking and sirens blaring. Obviously, that sort of escape is a criminal offense.

But what if you simply panicked and ran away from police during an arrest? Under Illinois law, you could be charged if you intentionally escape while in the lawful custody of a peace officer for an alleged offense. If your arrest is for a felony, you can be charged with a Class 2 Felony. If your arrest is for a misdemeanor, the charge can be Class A Escape. If armed with a dangerous weapon, your offense can be upgraded to a Class 1 Felony. (See 720 ILCS 5/31-6). If you are in a penal institution, escape can include failing to report back from a work furlough or day release. You can also be charged with escape for violating a condition of probation or supervision.

In determining whether you were in lawful custody, Illinois courts look at how much control the officer had over you and how much restriction was on your freedom of movement. Merely announcing you are under arrest might not be enough to establish lawful custody. In People v. Garza, however, the court held the defendant was in lawful custody where officers told defendant he was under arrest, stood within two feet of him and escorted him throughout the house after defendant was given permission to put on his clothing and say goodbye to his family, then escorted him down the stairs and through the door.

If you have been charged with escape or a similar 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? Were you in lawful custody at the time? 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.)