Friday, April 17, 2020

CAN I APPEAL A CHILD ABUSE FINDING FROM DCFS?

You agreed to take care of your sister's children while she recovered from surgery. You knew your one nephew was a bit of a handful who doesn’t like the word, “No.” That same child sprained his ankle on the basement steps, and now he says you pushed him down the stairs. The Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) investigated and has indicated you for child neglect or abuse.

Can you appeal?

An indicated finding by DCFS can have a dramatic impact on your entire life. Your name may be placed on a statewide registry of offenders, which could limit your ability to gain employment in some businesses as well as your ability to be around children. You may even have difficulty visiting grandchildren who live out of state.

Overturning such a finding may be tough but not impossible.

If DCFS does indicate you, you must request an appeal within 60 days from the date on the letter notifying you of that finding. If you miss this deadline, you are out of luck. However, once an appeal is timely requested, you may have a hearing.

If you do wish to appeal, an experienced attorney can be essential. An attorney can help raise doubts about the finding as well as help you put your best foot forward. How did the offense get reported? Did a doctor examine the child? Was a forensic interview with the child done in a fair and professional manner? Are there other witnesses? Is there an alternative explanation for any injuries that are observed? How are you coming across? Do you seem too angry and defensive?

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.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

CAN I GET MY LOVED ONE OUT OF PRISON BECAUSE OF COVID-19?

If you have a loved one in an Illinois state prison right now, there may be hope for early release.

The current coronavirus pandemic across the world is unprecedented in many ways. There is a general agreement that Illinois should try to control the spread by reducing the number of prisoners in custody. Governor J.B. Pritzker has indicated that his staff will be evaluating cases on an individual basis.

If your loved one has a history of respiratory or lung issues, he or she may be an excellent candidate for a medical release. Bear in mind that while such a release is unlikely to be granted to convicted murderers and rapists, among others, thousands of current inmates in state prison may qualify.

While you may be able to fill out the request form yourself, an experienced attorney can help present your loved one’s case in its most persuasive light. Among the many questions to be addressed: Will the inmate have a place to live? Do minor children live there? What is their criminal record? Is there medical documentation for their condition?

Even if your loved one does not qualify for a medical release, an experienced attorney may still be able to help. Under the right circumstances, your loved one could qualify for a commutation of their sentence. While this procedure is lengthier and more complicated, there may still be hope.

If you would like to petition for a medical release or other form of executive clemency such as pardon or commutationa, 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, April 3, 2020

THE CRIME OF THREATENING A PUBLIC OFFICIAL IN ILLINOIS

Frustrated by a traffic stop, you let the officer know exactly how you felt. Or maybe you took your frustration out on a judge who ruled against you. Either way, you are now charged with threatening a public official.

Can you be convicted? The answer depends on what you said and the context in which you said it.

In Illinois, you can be charged with threatening a public official or human service provider when you knowingly communicate a threat that would place the official or their immediate family in reasonable fear of bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement, restraint or damage to property. The threat may be communicated in any way. Further, the threat must be related to the official’s status or performance of their job.

For the state to convict, your statement must be a “true threat.” True threats are those where you intended to threaten violence, but not necessarily where you intended to act on the threat. To determine your intent, the court looks at the totality of the circumstances.

Threats to police, social workers, caseworkers, investigators or human service providers must contain specific facts indicating a unique threat to their person, family or property and not a generalized threat of harm.

One Illinois court held that the language “I’m gonna get you,” was not a true threat because the state did not show the context in which the threat was made. Illinois courts have also held that a defendant’s yelling at a prosecutor to “come back and say that to my face” and a defendant’s threat to a judge that he’ll “be hearing from someone” were also not true threats.

Threatening an official is a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years in prison, for a first offense and a Class 2 felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison for later offenses.

If you have been charged with a threatening an official or other crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. What exactly did you say? Can the state prove your intent? 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.

See 720 ILCS 5/12-9(a) and People v. Smith.

(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.)