Thursday, December 31, 2020

WHAT IS CONCEALMENT OF HOMICIDAL DEATH IN ILLINOIS?

In the 1944 comedy, Arsenic and Old Lace, Cary Grant’s character, Mortimer, finds a body in the window seat. It turns out that Mortimer’s elderly aunts have been murdering lonely, old bachelors “to end their suffering” by serving them arsenic-spiked elderberry wine. Mortimer’s brother, Teddy, assists the aunts by burying the bodies in the basement. Teddy and the aunts eventually end up in an asylum.

In real life, however, Teddy (and possibly Mortimer) could be charged with concealment of homicidal death, a Class 3 felony punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison. Furthermore, nothing in that law prevents Teddy from being charged with first or second degree murder or involuntary manslaughter if the facts so warrant.

Under 720 ILCS 5/9-3.4, you commit concealment of homicidal death when you knowingly conceal the death of any other person with knowledge that such other person has died by homicidal means. “Conceal” means that you performed some act to prevent or delay discovery of the murder, but this act must be something more than simply failing to disclose information. The concealment can occur where the body is found, but also where a body is transported from a murder site to delay discovery of the homicide.

If a body is moved out of state, there might be some issue as to which state may prosecute the crime. In People v. McVay, the court stated that Illinois may prosecute the crime if an offense is committed either wholly or partly within the state.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Did your actions meet the definition of “conceal” or were you merely refusing to give information? For example, if someone asked you to dump a barrel into a river, did you know what it contained? Did you know a homicide had even occurred?

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, December 18, 2020

WHAT IS OBSTRUCTING A PEACE OFFICER UNDER ILLINOIS LAW?

If the police give you an order, are you obstructing a peace officer if you refuse? The answer may depend on whether your actions “materially” obstructed the officer in his or her official duties.

Under 720 ILCS 5/31-1(a) you commit a Class A misdemeanor when you knowingly resist or obstruct the performance of a police officer, firefighter, or correctional institution employee in any authorized act within their official capacity. To determine if your obstruction is material, a court looks at the length of the delay caused by your refusal, the nature of your obstruction and the nature of the officer’s authorized act.

In People v. Mehta, officers were investigating a report of a man threatening someone in a parking lot with a gun when a black SUV arrived on the scene. Officers then asked the SUV passenger to exit with his hands up and turn around. The passenger refused several times but eventually complied. The court found that passenger’s refusal caused up to a 3-minute delay which materially impeded the officers’ gun investigation. While the length of the delay was relatively minor, the obstruction occurred during a high-tension for police situation at night in a gang area where there was a suspicion of gun activity.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, 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? Did you know the officer was an official? Did the officer act in his or her official capacity? Was your obstruction minimal rather than “material?”

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, December 4, 2020

WHAT IS THE CRIME OF ASSAULT IN ILLINOIS?

You commit assault when, without lawful authority, you knowingly engage in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery. Assault is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail. (See 720 ILCS 5/12-1).

In defining assault, Illinois courts have held that words alone are usually not enough without some action accompanying those words. Further, a victim must be in fear of immediate battery, not of undetermined future harm. (Note that certain factors such as the victim’s age can upgrade an assault charge into aggravated assault which can be a Class A misdemeanor or Class 4 felony. See 720 ILCS 5/12-2).

Examples of threatening conduct that meet the definition of assault include cases where a defendant has his or her hand on a gun or a tire iron while threatening physical harm. In one case, the defendant drove his car within a few feet of the victim, who was confined to a wheelchair, shouted at her, exited his vehicle, and then came within a foot of her and threatened to “beat her head in.”

However, in People. v. VanHoose, the court did not find sufficient evidence to convict another defendant of assault. There was no evidence of conduct that would place a reasonable person in fear of imminent harm given that he was 15 or 20 feet away from the alleged victim when he made the threats and there were obstacles between them.

If you have been charged with assault or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. 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.)