Monday, September 28, 2020

CAN I BE ARRESTED WHEN GETTING HELP FOR A DRUG OVERDOSE?

With some exceptions, the answer is generally no.

Illinois law grants limited immunity from prosecution for drugs found where the evidence against you was discovered because you sought emergency help in good faith, and the amount of the substance was within certain limits (See 720 ILCS 570/414 for limits.) Police may not arrest you based on evidence obtained as a direct result of getting help. Therefore, if someone is having an overdose, you generally need not fear calling 911.

In People v. Markham, the defendant’s companion called 911 when defendant was having an overdose. Before leaving for the hospital, defendant asked for his wallet and house keys. A rolled up dollar bill containing heroin was sticking out of his wallet. Because the heroin was found as a result of the emergency help, the court said the defendant was immune from prosecution: “We hold that the Act provides broad and unconditional protection from the prying eyes of law enforcement present at the scene of an overdose, regardless of whether that location is a personal residence, a business, a vehicle, and so on.”

The police may still search or arrest you if they have a reasonable suspicion based on information that they obtained independently or prior to your call. For example, the state could prosecute a woman that officers found sleeping in a car as she had not called for help and the officers noticed drug paraphernalia before they realized she was suffering from an overdose.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Were you seeking emergency help? Do the police have a separate basis from the emergency for charging you with a crime? If not, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the evidence stemming from your emergency call.

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, September 11, 2020

WHAT IS ‘INTERFERING WITH PERSONAL LIBERTY’ UNDER ILLINOIS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAW?

You have just been charged with domestic violence based on interfering with your ex’s personal liberty. What does that mean? What can you do about it?

Under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act, "'interference with personal liberty' means committing or threatening physical abuse, harassment, intimidation or willful deprivation so as to compel another to engage in conduct from which she or he has a right to abstain or to refrain from conduct in which she or he has a right to engage."

In a 1994 Illinois case, In re Marriage of Healy, the court declined to find interference with personal liberty where the complainant believed the respondent had an alcohol problem, he had muttered swear words under his breath, and he had awakened the children early in the morning to go on a trip on which the complainant feared they might have an accident.

If someone is seeking an order of protection against you or you have been accused of violating an order of protection, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not try to talk your way out of your situation. What you may think is a reasonable explanation may give the state the ammunition they need to enforce an order against you. An attorney can help present your situation to the court in its most favorable light.

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, September 1, 2020

WILL I HAVE TO TESTIFY IN MY DCFS APPEAL?

You have been indicated for child abuse from the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS). You want to appeal but you recall from TV that criminal defendants usually don’t take the stand. You are afraid you could say the wrong thing out of sheer anxiety and confusion.

Do you have to testify before the DCFS? Under certain circumstances, the hearing officer could compel you.

Under DCFS rules, the agency has the burden of showing by a preponderance of evidence that you are guilty of the offense charged by a preponderance of the evidence. (This is a dramatically lighter burden than the one used in criminal cases, which is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”) In all cases, a hearing officer—-there is no right to a jury--will judge whether DCFS has met its burden of proof against you.

At the hearing, DCFS may call you to testify on the record. Your attorney may object, but there is a good chance the testimony will come in regardless. Testifying, however, can be a double-edged sword.

On one hand, you might inadvertently corroborate some of the evidence against you. But, you might also cast doubt on other aspects of the case. For example, are you able to offer an alternate explanation for any marks on the victim’s body? Can you explain any apparent inconsistencies in your statement to DCFS? Do you have an alibi? How did DCFS learn about the allegations? Through a vengeful ex-paramour? An experienced defense attorney can be critical in preparing you to testify.

If you have questions about a DCFS 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.)