Friday, October 23, 2020

CAN I CLAIM PTSD AS A DIMINISHED CAPACITY DEFENSE IN ILLINIOS?

The answer is no. Diminished capacity is not recognized as a defense in Illinois. However, you might instead consider whether you were not guilty by reason of insanity or guilty but mentally ill.

In the that recognize diminished capacity, a legally sane defendant may present evidence of mental illness to negate the specific intent required to commit a particular crime. Diminished capacity may be caused by intoxication, trauma or disease.

For example in People v. Frazier, the defendant, an Iraq military veteran, claimed his PTSD prevented him from forming the intent necessary to commit aggravated discharge of a firearm. In that case, the court rejected this defense.

In contrast, under the insanity defense, you may not be criminally responsible for your offense as a result of mental disease or defect where you lack the substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of your conduct. The terms "mental disease or mental defect" do not include abnormalities manifested only by repeated criminal or otherwise antisocial conduct. In other words, you would not likely have an insanity defense if you were a serial killer without some other form of mental illness.

If you are mentally ill, but not insane, you may still be held criminally responsible for your conduct. This is known as guilty but mentally ill. In this sense, “mentally ill” means you had a substantial disorder of thought, mood or behavior which impaired your judgment, but not to the extent that you were unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of your behavior.

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 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.)

Friday, October 16, 2020

CAN I BE ARRESTED FOR SOMETHING FOUND UNDER THE PASSENGER SEAT OF MY CAR?

You were driving around town with your friend. You stepped a little too heavy on the gas, so the police stopped you for speeding. At first, you weren’t too concerned, but then the officer pulled a plastic baggie out from under your friend’s seat. Can you be arrested for that?

The answer depends on whether the state can prove the contraband was yours. Possession can be actual or constructive. Actual possession means you basically had the item on your person. Constructive possession means you knew the drugs or weapons were present, and you exercised immediate and exclusive control over the area in which they were found.

If the baggie was under your seat or you were the only person with access to the car, the state may prove constructive possession. If instead the baggie was hidden from you and out of your reach but not your friend’s, you may be able to raise a reasonable doubt that the item was yours.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. As with most criminal offenses, the state must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. An experienced attorney can probe for weaknesses in the state’s case.

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. Thomas.

(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, October 8, 2020

WHAT IS “LEGAL INSANITY” UNDER ILLINOIS CRIMINAL LAW?

Under Illinois law, you may be legally insane if, at the time you committed a crime, you suffered from a mental disease or defect such that you lacked the substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of your conduct. (See 720 ILCS 5/6-2(a)). Generally that means you didn’t understand you were doing something wrong. As such, efforts to cover up your crime may undermine an insanity defense.

If you raise the defense, you have the burden of proving insanity by clear and convincing evidence. The state need not put on expert testimony to prove you are sane, but may rely on existing evidence to counter your case. The state must still prove you guilty of the crime itself beyond a reasonable doubt.

Mental illness, bizarre behavior or delusional behavior do not necessarily mean legal insanity but may be factors to consider in determining your capacity to appreciate the criminality of your conduct.

For example, in People v. Plackowska, the defendant stabbed two children and two dogs to death. The court found that while defendant had a mental illness, her efforts to put the knife down the garbage disposal, discard her cell phone and make up a story about an intruder proved that she knew she was committing a crime.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. If your sanity may be at issue, an attorney can help select and prepare any mental health experts on your behalf.

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.)