Friday, April 9, 2021

HOW IS A COMMUTATION DIFFERENT FROM A PARDON?

You have a loved one in prison. He hung out with some people who were not his friends and got involved in a robbery. You want to shorten what seems like an unfair sentence. Are you looking for a commutation or a pardon?

It depends on whether your loved one has completed his or her sentence. If you want to get someone out of prison, a commutation could shorten their sentence. If your loved one has completed their sentence and cannot seal or expunge their record, they can petition for a pardon.

A commutation can be granted for health reasons or if it appears your loved one has learned from their mistakes and deserves a second chance. Note that a commutation is not an appeal. Rather than asserting your loved one is innocent or that mistakes were made at trial, a petition for commutation typically involves accepting responsibility for the underlying offense and showing how he or she has changed.

In contrast, a pardon enables the governor to nullify a conviction, one for which a sentence (in or out of prison) has already been satisfied. A pardon typically allows a defendant to expunge their criminal record, though the final order to do so will be at the discretion of a judge in the county where the case originated.

Either petition for commutation or pardon generally includes character references along with other exhibits, which are then sent to the Illinois Board of Prison Review. The Board makes a recommendation to the governor who then makes the final decision. Your loved one may ask for a public hearing before the Board. For a commutation, your loved one will not be allowed to appear in person at the hearing, but you can still testify on their behalf.

If you have questions about petitioning for a pardon or commutation, 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 23, 2021

CAN MY FLIGHT BE USED AS EVIDENCE OF GUILT?

The answer is yes. If you fled from a crime, your flight can be one of the circumstances considered to establish your guilt.

Whether an inference of guilt may be drawn from your flight depends on if you knew (1) that an offense had been committed, and (2) that you may be suspected. While evidence that you knew you were a suspect is essential, actual knowledge of a possible arrest is not.

In People v. Aljohani, a neighbor heard screaming and knocked on the door. The defendant answered and said the victim was in the bathroom. The neighbor asked to see the victim after which the defendant became angry and shut the door. The neighbor called police. The defendant told them everything was OK. The police left but then returned, at which point, they found the door to the garage and apartment wide open and the defendant gone. Entering the apartment, they found the defendant’s roommate had been stabbed to death. These facts indicated that defendant knew an offense had been committed, and that he would be a suspect. Thus, the defendant’s flight could be used as evidence of guilt.

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. Did you know you about the crime or that you would be a suspect? Is there a reasonable explanation for your behavior? If so, an attorney can try to present the facts of your case in their 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.)

Sunday, March 7, 2021

CAN YOU TAKE YOUR OWN CHILD TO THE PARK IF YOU ARE A CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER?

The answer depends on the charges brought against you. If you are a convicted sexual predator or child sex offender, you cannot knowingly be present in any public park or loiter in a public way within 500 feet of a public park. This is true even if you are with your own child. A first offense is a Class A misdemeanor, and further offenses are Class 4 felonies. See 720 ILCS 5/11-9.4-1.

However, an offense under 720 ILCS 5/11-9.3(a-10) allows you to be present with your own child. Under that law, a child sex offender may not knowingly be present in any public park when persons under age 18 are present and may not approach, any minor child, unless their own minor child is also present.

In People v. Legoo, the defendant, who was charged under 720 ILCS 5/11-9.4-1(b), picked up his his son from a baseball game at the park. The defendant claimed necessity in that no one else was available to do so. The court rejected this defense, noting that the defendant could have then asked police for assistance. Defendant also argued that the same exception which allows an offender under 720 ILCS 5/11-9.3 to be in a park with their own child should apply to his charges. The court disagreed, stating that the two laws applied to different offenders and different conduct.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced 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? The court did not rule out a necessity defense under all circumstances. Did you have a compelling reason to be in the park? 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.)

Monday, February 22, 2021

WHAT IS THE OFFENSE OF TRAVELING TO MEET A CHILD IN ILLINOIS?

You commit the offense of traveling to meet a child (under age 17) when you travel any distance by any means, or attempt to do so, in order to engage in sexual conduct with that child after using an online service to seduce or solicit the child. (See 720 ILCS 5/11-26.)

You can be convicted for engaging in such conduct with someone you believed to be a child, even if they turned out to be an adult. In that event, you might raise a defense of entrapment. However, it is not entrapment if you were predisposed to commit the crime and police merely afforded you the opportunity to do so. Your predisposition is established by proof that you were ready and willing to commit the crime without persuasion and before your initial exposure to government agents.

Traveling to meet a child is a Class 3 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 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 attempting to lure or solicit a child? Were you predisposed to do so before police initiated contact? Even if the police acted legally 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.

Source: People v. Lewis.

(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, February 5, 2021

WHAT IS THE NECESSITY DEFENSE UNDER ILLINOIS LAW?

Under Illinois law, you may be able to plead necessity as a defense if you did not cause the situation and you reasonably believed your actions were necessary to avoid a greater harm than the injury which might reasonably result from your own conduct. See 720 ILCS 5/7-13.

To prove necessity, you must show a "specific and immediate threat.” For example in People v. Gullens, the defendant took a gun which a third party had stolen in order to return it. As a result, defendant, who was serving a term of conditional discharge, was violated for being a felon in possession of a weapon. The court, however, upheld defendant’s necessity defense. Defendant had not caused the situation involving a stolen firearm and had only taken the gun in order to return it to its rightful owner since he feared it might otherwise be sold and used in a crime.

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. Did the police have probable cause to stop you? Was the search legal? Can the state prove all the elements of your offense? Do you have legal justification for your actions such as necessity or self defense? 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.)

Sunday, January 31, 2021

WHAT IS CHILD ABANDONMENT IN ILLINOIS?

Under 720 ILCS 5/12C-10, you commit child abandonment when you leave a child under age 13 for 24 hours or more unsupervised by a responsible person over age 14, without regard for the child’s health or safety. The child must be someone under your custody or control.

The law provides a laundry list of factors to determine whether you left the child without regard for his or her welfare:

  1. the child’s age;
  2. the number of children left at the location;
  3. the child’s special needs including physical or mental disability or medical needs;
  4. the length of time the child was left;
  5. the condition and location of the place where the child was left;
  6. the time of day or night;
  7. weather conditions;
  8. your location;
  9. whether the child’s movement was restricted or the child was locked within a room or other structure;
  10. whether the child was given an emergency phone number and whether the child could make the call;
  11. whether food and other provisions were left for the child;
  12. whether your conduct is attributable to economic hardship or illness and you made a good faith effort to provide for the child’s health and safety;
  13. the age and physical and mental capabilities of the person who provided supervision for the child;
  14. any other factor that would endanger the health or safety of that particular child;
  15. whether the child was left under the supervision of another person.

If you are convicted of child abandonment, a judge can defer judgment of guilt by placing you on probation and requiring you to cooperate with the Department of Child and Family Services. If you successfully complete these terms, the case against you may then be dismissed. See 720 ILCS 5/12C-15.

If you have been charged with child abandonment or similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Whether you have committed child abandonment can be a very fact specific question. An attorney ho is familiar with your courthouse can best present the facts most likely to appeal to your particular judge.

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, January 27, 2021

DO I HAVE A RIGHT TO AN INTERPRETER IF I DON’T UNDERSTAND ENGLISH?

The answer is yes.

According to Illinois case law, fundamental due process requires that a defendant who does not fully understand English be permitted an interpreter. Otherwise, a defendant could be deprived of his or her right to a fair hearing. (See People v. Castellano).

Whenever you shall be tried for a crime, Illinois law requires the court to determine whether you can understand English and can express yourself so as to be understood directly by counsel, court or jury. If the court finds that you cannot, the court must appoint an interpreter that you can understand and who can understand you. This right extends to defendants who need interpreters for sign language. (See 725 ILCS 140/1).

Any interpreter must follow the Illinios Supreme Court Code of Interpreter Ethics which requires that they shall render a complete and accurate interpretation, without changing, adding or omitting anything.

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. Do 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.)

Monday, January 18, 2021

WHAT IS DOMESTIC BATTERY UNDER ILLINOIS LAW?

You commit domestic battery if you knowingly without legal justification by any means: (1) cause bodily harm to any family or household member; (2) makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with any family or household member. (See 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2.)

To be convicted of domestic battery, you must meet the definition of “family or household member.” Illinois courts have included dating relationships within the law. A dating relationship is a serious courtship, defined as a relationship with a significant romantic focus and a shared expectation of growth. This determination can be highly fact specific. In People v. Allen, a sexual on-again, off-again relationship that took place over eight months where the parties got together to watch movies was considered sufficient. (See our related blog at What is a dating relationship under Illinois domestic battery law?.)

Domestic battery is a class A misdemeanor for a first offense. Depending on if you have a criminal record and the nature of your past crimes, domestic battery can be upgraded to a felony. There are stiffer sentencing requirements if you committed such battery in front of a child, plus you may have to pay for the child’s counseling.

If you have been charged with domestic battery or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. It is critical not to try to talk yourself out of the situation with police. What you think is a reasonable explanation can sound like an excuse, or worse, evidence to convict you.

An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. As with most criminal offenses, the state must prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Were you a family or household member? Did you have legal justification for the battery? Was the physical contact really of an insulting or provoking nature?

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, January 13, 2021

WHAT IS FIRST DEGREE MURDER IN ILLINOIS?

Under Illinois law, there are three kinds of first degree murder.
  1. Intentional murder where you intend to kill or do great bodily harm to another knowing that your actions will cause death;
  2. Strong probability murder: Where you know your acts create a strong probability of death or great bodily harm;
  3. Felony murder: Where you kill someone while you are committing a forcible felony such as armed burglary (but not second degree murder).
See 720 ILCS 5/9-1.

To convict you, all three types of first degree murder require that you were acting without lawful justification. Therefore, if you can prove a defense such as necessity or self-defense, your conduct may be legally justified.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, an experienced attorney can review your case for your best defense. Did police obtain any required warrants before searching or arresting you? Did police properly record any confession? Was a confession coerced? Can the state prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Can they prove you were the culprit? Or that you acted with intent? Were you trying to save someone else or yourself from imminent physical danger? Even if the police acted lawfully and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the court house 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.)